When the question "What is the meaning of life?" is asked, one of a variety of questions may be implied, such as: "Why are we here?" (or, "What is the origin of life?"), "What is the nature of life (and of the universe in which we live)?", "What is the significance of life?", "What is the purpose of, or in, (one's) life?", and "What is valuable in life?" Some answers have been given, deriving from scientific theories, or philosophical, theological, and spiritual explanations.
What is the origin of life?
The question "What is the origin of life?" is addressed in the sciences in the areas of abiogenesis (for the origins of biological life) and cosmogeny (for the origins of the universe). Both of these areas are quite hypothetical, cosmogeny because no existing physical model can accurately describe the very early universe (the instant of the Big Bang), and abiogenesis because the environment of the young earth is not known, and because the conditions and chemical processes that may have taken billions of years to produce life cannot (as of yet) be reproduced in a laboratory. Nevertheless, biologists think an early protein replicator was formed by the gradual build up of amino acids in the oceans, and then proceeded to dominate the primeval soup, occasionally mutating into a more (or less) successful form. Eventually a primitive cell was formed, and life continued to evolve by the mechanisms of mutation and natural selection. Based on these or similar theories, some philosophers[attribution needed] say that because life was entirely coincidental, one cannot expect life to have any meaning at all, other than its own self-perpetuation — reproduction.
What is the nature of life?
Scientists in the biological and medical fields have studied the human body to acquire an understanding of the nature of human life. Near the end of the 20th century, equipped with insights from the gene-centered view of evolution, some biologists suggested that insofar as there may be a primary function to life, it is the survival of genes; following this approach, success isn't measured in terms of the survival of species, but one level deeper, in terms of the successful replication of genes.
What is valuable in life?
Science may not be able to tell us what is most valuable in life in a philosophical sense, but some studies bear on related questions: Researchers in "positive psychology" study factors that lead to satisfaction in our lives. (and before them less rigorously in Humanistic Psychology), in Social psychology factors that lead to infants thriving or failing to thrive, and in other areas of psychology questions of motivation, preference, and what people value; Economists have learned a great deal about what is valued in the marketplace; and sociology examines value at a social level using theoretical constructs such as value theory, norms, anomie, etc.
What is the purpose of, or in, (one's) life?"
Natural scientists look for the purpose of life within the structure and function of life itself.
The real purpose of life is to be self-actualized and die knowing that you did everything you set out to do. Life is what you want it to be. To be self-actualized is something most don't achieve, dying in this condition is a state most wish they could, take every opportunity you can to seize the day and live life to the fullest in your eyes.
Analysis of teleology based on science
The "debunking" of teleology is said to have coincided with or resulted from advances in biological knowledge such as the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species (i.e. Natural selection).
It is not unlikely however, that it was thought long before that teleology (perceived meaning or purpose) is an illusion that has no bearing on reality and that ultimately there is no objective purpose to anything. Best-selling author and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins puts forward his explanation in his Discovery Science video 'The Big Question: Why are we here?'.
This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Purpose of Life. The Official Guide to Purpose of Life is Lynn Scheurell. Lynn is an authority on getting dramatic results quickly through intentional innovation, understanding natural rhythms and being personally accountable for the experience created. Primarily working with entrepreneurs, small business owners and budding global revolutionaries who want to enjoy personal success by their own definition and to change the world through conscious connections, she has helped people break their inertia to step into their true purpose through clarity and focused action.
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