Is There Meaning To Life?

by Luke Nix

Introduction
An interesting TED Talk came across my Facebook feed a few weeks ago. The talk focused on finding meaning in life. More and more people are discovering that pursuing happiness is leading them nowhere. They discover that every time they think that something obtainable or achievable will make them happy, once that has been obtained or achieved, that happiness lasts only for a short time. Then a discovery is made of something else that is greater than what they originally thought would make them happy, and they pursue that.

This process repeats numerous times until they reach the top, then they realize that there is nothing left, yet they still feel unfulfilled. This TED Talk attempts to address that problem by positing that instead of pursuing happiness, people should pursue meaning. Here is a link to the talk, and I highly recommend that you watch it in full before continuing with this post: There’s more to life than being happy- Emily Esfahani Smith.

On The Surface
The speaker recognizes the problems that the pursuit of happiness brings: unhappiness, unfulfillment, depression, and suicidal tendencies. The offered solution gives hope to those who are depressed and tired of the pursuit of happiness. From a pragmatic perspective of survival, this talk was quite encouraging and invigorating. However, regardless of the survival advantage that it provides if one believes the claims, if the claims in the talk do not reflect reality (are not true), then the person who believes them has traded the truth for a lie in the name of mere survival- a delusion that is evolutionarily necessary to believe if we wish to win the survival game. If the speaker is presenting a delusion, then, for those who value truth and knowledge as well as survival, the talk is truly as useless as the solution it wishes to supplant. So, for the sake of truth, the claims need to be investigated and analyzed at a deeper level.

I would be curious to know the speaker’s philosophical foundations. Her worldview must be able to support her claims. Here are some questions that I’d like to ask of the speaker in the deeper analysis of the solution she offers…

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Is There Meaning To Life?