The Meaning of Life
This phrase, a parody of “The Meaning of Life,” first appeared in the English language in 1836, when Thomas Carlyle wrote a parody novel called Sartor Resartus. It was spoken by comic German philosopher Diogenes Teufelsdrockh, best known for his treatise on clothes. Though the phrase has become a cliché, the question of life’s meaning remains one that is easy to ridicule and paradigmatically opaque.
The meaning of life is the pursuit of a purpose, an aim, or a destiny. The pursuit of these objectives requires a sense-making framework. The resulting worldviews focus on origins, significance, value, and suffering. They are based on various ideas about the nature of humanity and its destiny. But all are inherently related. While there are differences between them, they all emphasize the need for purpose and direction in life.
Some philosophers have concluded that the answers to these questions are not merely materialistic, but also existential. This leads to pessimistic concerns about the meaning of life. Moreover, a more pessimistic perspective might also result from a broader view of cosmic meaning. So, in order to understand the meaning of life, one must look beyond materialistic concerns and look towards the horizon of a cosmic perspective.
Various religions emphasize the eschatological order of existence, defining it as the progressive evolution of the atman, which is the concept of the soul in the West. In addition, particular goals in life are subsumed within larger aims known as yogas and dharma. These are intended to achieve favorable reincarnations. In addition, traditional schools of Hinduism also worship the Devas, manifestations of the god Ishvara.