The Instigator
RationalMadman
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
MaestroEvans
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points

The Meaning of Life

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
MaestroEvans
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/3/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,779 times Debate No: 28873
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)

 

RationalMadman

Con

I am genuinely against the meaning of life altogether.

Whether to reproduce, to be happy or even to preserve one's own life I think all are extremely flawed and that to convince onself that there is such a thing as "the meaning of life" is to result in one being perpetually doubtful of themselves.
MaestroEvans

Pro

I gladly accept your challenge. Seeing as this is my first debate, I hope to learn a lot from this.

To be clear, I will argue that the lives of everybody and everything have meanings to them, though the meaning of life to one person may not necessarily be the same as the meaning of life to another. RationalMadman will argue that any meaning of life is flawed, if I am not mistaken.

To be clear of the layout of the debate, the second round may be used for opening statements; I will not offer rebuttals in the second round. Rounds three and four may be used for rebuttals; new arguments may be presented in these rounds. Round five may be used for rebuttals, summaries, and a conclusion to the debators' arguments. No new arguments may be presented in the last round.

The burdain of proof is shared between pro and con.

Good luck in advance. I wil allow my opponent to present his opening statement.
Debate Round No. 1
RationalMadman

Con

THERE IS NO SHARED BOP. YOU HAVE BOP TO PROVE THE MEANING OF LIFE.

My case is that by deluding yourself to a meaning you might choose a less beneficial option in a scenario because you think it better fits the meaning of life.
MaestroEvans

Pro

Thank you for your opening statement. I will then begin by arguing the existence of any meaning of life. Before I do, I would like to point out that I do not profess to know everything regarding this topic (hence the reason for why I want to learn from this debate), nor will I play the "Bible-thumper" to prove the existence of any meaning of life. I will also say that I will adhere to the formatting established before and refrain from offering a rebuttal to my opponent's claim in this round. Now, my opening statement:


The Existence of a meanig for life
One cannot doubt that people seek and have sought meanings for their existences. Consider the famous question posed by Shakespeare through Hamlet's' soliloquy in his work, "The Tragety of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark:" "to be or not to be? [1]" Hamlet questioned whether it is worthwhile "to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" or "to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them? To die: to sleep." Such is the question many people ask about their lives because pain and suffering is a reality. Elizabeth Bishop wrote of the fact that humans lose things and turned it into an art in her poem "One Art. [2]" World War 1, World War 2, the Inquisition, human and property damage from natural disaters and even the everyday lives of people and animals are all examples of pain and suffering. To name a few demographics of people that question the point of living on this planet, religious people ask "why," secular people ask "why," even the average joe asks "why."


Many people attempt to provide a reason for and give a meaning to living, though as I have said before, the answer may be unique to each person. Consider a child (I'll call the child Timmy) who perhaps stated that he wanted to be a fireman. Later on in his junior year in high school, Timmy decides to formulate a pragmatic plan with which he could use to pursue a living in the medical field. At both instances, Timmy sets a goal with which he can use to make something out of his life; goals, by default, make the processes of one's own life meaningful in climbing the ladder of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs [3]. After all, Maslow argues in his paper, "A Theory of Human Modivation," that humans must satisfy one's own basic needs before pursuing the next need. [4]

Lastly, I want you to consider the lasting impact one's own life has on the course of events and on the lives of others. Many people spoke of the power of what a person does with his or her life:

"Who doth right deeds is twice born, and who doeth ill deeds vile.” -Edwin Arnold

“To be nameless in worthy deeds, exceeds an infamous history.” -Sir Thomas Browne

“'Tis not what man Does which exalts him, but what man Would do.” -Robert Browning

“Little deeds of kindness, little words of love, Make our earth an Eden like the heaven above.” -Julia A. Fletcher Carney

“Men pass away, but their deeds abide.” -Augustin-Louis Cauchy

This alone proves my point that life has meaning.

A meaning for life as a psychologically beneficial mechanism

Providing a meaning for life provides a sense of direction and comfort knowing that life is not just the state of existing. Since a meaning to one's own life is generated in the process of setting goals, setting goals provides a motivation for improvement, a system with which one can measure progress and even a way to make decision-making easier. [5] After all, a pet cat (I'll use mine as an example) within the care of a good owner is content with its place as a pet and can thus easily conduct its daily life; it only has to concern itself with eating, sleeping and receiving attention.


I will refrain from elaborating on how having a meaning for life is not distructive in the process of making decisions until my opponent offers a rebuttal.

Sources

1: http://www.nosweatshakespeare.com... (the soliloquy itself)
2: http://www.poets.org...
3: http://www.simplypsychology.org...
4: http://www.altruists.org...
5: http://www.livestrong.com...




Debate Round No. 2
RationalMadman

Con

My opponent gave some cute quotes and failed to justify them meaning they really do not assist his/her case whatsoever.

I easily can give this quotes and utterly destroy your entire case and since your petty tactics took to be as they were I SHALL!

Most were taken from here: http://www.goodreads.com...

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.”
Albert Camus http://www.goodreads.com...

The justification for this is simple, searching for a meaning of life (which I think doesn't exist) will mean you, up until your death, waste time and mental energy that could have been spent on actually doing something in ignorance of whether or not life has meaning. For example, instead of thinking 'oh is there a meaning of life?' one could think 'can I find the sequence to prime numbers?' or 'how would I go about finding the cure to leukemia/leukaemia?'. You aren't doing anything with your life searching for a non existent concept (the meaning of life).

“In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in his cosmic loneliness.

And God said, "Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done." And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close to mud as man sat, looked around, and spoke. "What is the purpose of all this?" he asked politely.

"Everything must have a purpose?" asked God.

"Certainly," said man.

"Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this," said God.

And He went away.”
― Kurt Vonnegut http://www.goodreads.com..., Cat’s Cradle http://www.goodreads.com...

For the more agnostic/atheist of readers this makes a satirical humorous read, for the religious this probably explains the reasoning behind religion in the first place in a very true and philosophically intellectual sense. In essence, this is stating that the only meaning of life decipherable from a God-believer's standpoint is that he made a creature so intelligent that it would question the reason for its intelligence in the first place. However, this is a very stupid meaning of life which makes no sense because it is using circular logic in that the meaning of life is the search for it, which if reversed is exactly the same and circular logic is very stupid.

“Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.”
― Mark Haddon http://www.goodreads.com..., The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time http://www.goodreads.com... THE BEST CRIME-RELATED FICTIONAL WORK EVER!


Not only is this from, quite literally, the best work of crime-related fiction I have ever read (which probably is made more awesome in that the main character and I share the same mental disorder) but also comes the issue that this quote is very true. While it was hypocritical of me, in my justification of the first quote, to offer reasoning that suggested questioning the sequence behind prime numbers instead of the meaning of life, it is also a very true thing to say that while both are virtually impossible to find (I would like to say ABSOLUTELY impossible in regards to the meaning of life) the finding of prime numbers, which merely are an absence of any pattern whatsoever, would ultimately (as pointless as the search would be) result in far more useful information than a meaning of life, which quite frankly does nothing at all in assisting one's ability to live it.

“Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.”
― Joseph Campbell http://www.goodreads.com...

Pretty straightforward. The only purpose we have in life is what we do for other forms of life isn't it... Pointless to question the meaning when you are one form of it.

“Plato says that the unexamined life is not worth living. But what if the examined life turns out to be a clunker as well?”
― Kurt Vonnegut [same link as before], Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons http://www.goodreads.com...

I am a fan of Plato's ideas of non-economic communism and his republic where parental individual methods of upbringing should not be limitations to a child's success. However, he (as many philosophers have done) seems to adding some hidden value to the 'meaning of life' and seems to think people in areas of expertise other than philosophy are inferior in some sense. Needless to say that Plato never found any meaning of life whatsoever, just as his master Socrates failed to do. The reason is simple, there is no meaning of life and no matter how smart you are you just won't find it because that would be like Super Mario suddenly developing a consciousness of his own and understanding the game's script intellectually and fully understanding his purpose is to entertain those controlling him (which he can find no evidence to prove). We are all pawns in this chess-board named the Earth, in the grandmaster tournament named the universe. It is pretty pathetic to say "Oh but being happy or being in love matters and that is hwy we are alive" when in reality we are no more alive than a blob of bacteria, which willingly kill themselves instantaneously for the sake of making two copies of themselves (so essentially their 'meaning of life' is to destroy oneself to then multiply which is even more pointless than two being having sex to make a new unexpected one...).

A final quote that really sealed the deal for me on the matter is this one:

"Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once." ~Lillian Dickson
http://www.quotegarden.com...
http://www.icwhp.org...

Now not to be racist or sexist but for some reason a random Taiwanese woman, raised in Canada, who helped impoverished children (predominantly those in Taiwan) to be educated would somehow come up with the most mind-blowing philosophical quote of all time but let me just explain the real significance this quote had on me when I read it.

If we consider the vast field of rationality, philosophy and any intellectual, theoretical questioning to be in the category of these matters and then we consider to be an ECONOMY in which life is but merely one concern, or one COIN, then we can see how this analogy could work and language is the CURRENCY.

HOWEVER, when trying to make an economical understanding of a coin in and of itself you will be totally lost if you try to give it value/meaning/purpose in and of itself just like trying to understand life is pointless and stupid. The coin, like life, is merely on entity/concept among the vast abyss of the economy of philosophical ideas. Life is merely a means to an end... To enable consciousness for the mere purpose of enabling reasoning to occur... Or perhaps it for an economy of pure competition where only the forms of life in the most well-suited bodies should survive... How can we really determine life's meaning without understanding that it is merely relative to what the economy of the entire rationality and reasoning behind philosophy itself in the first place? Life is merely a copper coin on its own... It only has a value to those in the economy of rational reasoning... It is in and of itself rather pointless is it not? Ah... I don't know I think this is my best shot at converting you to nihilism...
MaestroEvans

Pro

I am impressed by my opponent's well thought out argument, but I am far from destroyed.

Rebuttals
He argues that "searching for a meaning of life (which I think doesn't exist) will mean you, up until your death, waste time and mental energy that could have been spent on actually doing something in ignorance of whether or not life has meaning," which is synonymous with his case in the second round: "My case is that by deluding yourself to a meaning you might choose a less beneficial option in a scenario because you think it better fits the meaning of life."

This is flawed; how could a father who uses his parenthood as a means to provide a meaning for his life possibly choose a less beneficial option than another father who does not consider his parenthood as a meaning for his life when it comes to the well being of his kid? Why would a father who does not consider his parenthood as a meaning for his life have to spend his entire life to "search" for his parenthood as a meaning for his life? He would not even have to "search" at all for his parenthood as a meaning for his life.

"...the only meaning of life decipherable from a God-believer's standpoint is that he made a creature so intelligent that it would question the reason for its intelligence in the first place." I would not even make that argument because that is not a statement a God-believer (assuming the God you're referring to is the Christian God, judging from the nature of the quote you used), by definiton, would make. On the contrary, a God-believer would say that the meaning of life is to simply obey God:

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (NIV)

13: Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole [duty] of man.
14: For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
The verses are self-explanatory; 13 deals with what mankind must do, according to the Bible; 14 deals with why.

"...while both are virtually impossible to find (I would like to say ABSOLUTELY impossible in regards to the meaning of life) the finding of prime numbers, which merely are an absence of any pattern whatsoever, would ultimately (as pointless as the search would be) result in far more useful information than a meaning of life, which quite frankly does nothing at all in assisting one's ability to live it."

As I have said before, providing a reason for the meaning of life assists in the process of making decisions, provides a motivation for improvement and it provides a system with which one could measure one's own progress, along with providing a "why." What's the use of knowing the pattern of the sequencing of prime numbers if life itself has no merit?

"The only purpose we have in life is what we do for other forms of life isn't it..."

Not for everybody.

"Pointless to question the meaning when you are one form of it."

That is like saying that it is pointless for somebody to question what it means to be a soldier when he or she is one himself or herself. Being a soldier means a lot more than to receive veteren's pensions and life means a lot more than what one definition says of it.

Before I finish this argument at a time later than 3:16 a.m., I would like to mention that if life has no meaning to it, then the suicide of a person would not make a difference to anything except perhaps the result of a head count. If life has no meaning to it, then morality would have no merit or meaning; the loss of twenty kids and six staff members from the shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary school would make no difference. If life had no meaning, the whole of human-kind may as well end itself to avoid "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."

Your best shot at converting me to nihilism is noted, but not enough. I await your response.






Debate Round No. 3
RationalMadman

Con

So you say what if a father has deluded himself to believe that fatherhood is the meaning of life? What I ask is what if he's a rubbish father and believes to be an abusive father is the meaning of life? By offering no rational meaning of life the father could merely wake up and think being a woman is his meaning of life and go be a tranny and then decide that suicide is the meaning of life, since death is the only thing uniting all living beings and I really didn't understand the rest of your argument because it all revolved around this idea that there is a benefit to deluding oneself to a meaning of life.

What possible outcome can searching for a non-existent answer bring? Really?

You said that finding the sequence to prime numbers is worthless if one has no meaning of life but I argue that a meaning of life doesn't exist and the best one can do with their life is be useful to others, such as by finding a mind-blowing sequence. So really the contention is self-destructive.

Just because we exist to worship God (according to Christians) doesn't take away the irony of the fact that God gave us the intelligence to question the very reason for it.

Really, if you say one can delude themselves to believe being a father is a good idea then how is one to know if being a suicide bomber is not? Having no logic behind the meaning of life is VERY dangerous.
MaestroEvans

Pro

My opponent has provided arguments that are destructive to his entire case. He has also ignored what I have already argued, so I will merely reiderate my arguments in a clearer fashon as I point out the holes of his rebuttal.

Irrational reason for life?
He has provided the following argument:

1) By offering no rational meaning of life, the father can basically conduct himself in a suggestive manner and ultimately commit suicide.
Lets put this father in the real world and say that he has dressed up as a woman and committed suicide. I will argue that there are greater factors that contribute to suicide than an irrational reason of life.

Suicide
Kevin Caruso, the founder, executive director and editor-in-chief of debate.org, writes that 90% of people who die by suicide have a mental illness at the time of their deaths. The most common among them is depression, which is usually triggered by several negative life experiences that are unaddresed rather than just one. Several of these negative life experiences include:

  • The death of a loved one.
  • A divorce, separation, or breakup of a relationship.
  • Losing custody of children, or feeling that a child custody decision is not fair.
  • A serious loss, such as a loss of a job, house, or money.
  • A serious illness.
  • A terminal illness.
  • A serious accident.
  • Chronic physical pain.
  • Intense emotional pain.
  • Loss of hope.
  • Being victimized (domestic violence, rape, assault, etc).
  • A loved one being victimized (child murder, child molestation, kidnapping, murder, rape, assault, etc.).
  • Physical abuse.
  • Verbal abuse.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Unresolved abuse (of any kind) from the past.
  • Feeling "trapped" in a situation perceived as negative.
  • Feeling that things will never "get better."
  • Feeling helpless.
  • Serious legal problems, such as criminal prosecution or incarceration.
  • Feeling "taken advantage of."
  • Inability to deal with a perceived "humiliating" situation.
  • Inability to deal with a perceived "failure."
  • Alcohol abuse.
  • Drug abuse.
  • A feeling of not being accepted by family, friends, or society.
  • A horrible disappointment.
  • Feeling like one has not lived up to his or her high expectations or those of another.
  • Bullying. (Adults, as well as children, can be bullied.)
  • Low self-esteem.

--Caruso, Kevin."Suicide Causes." <http://www.suicide.org...;

As you can see, an "irrational meaning of life" is not a leading cause of suicide. Besides, a common thought that victims of depression have is "there is no reason for me to live" rather then "I am meant to die."

The next argument he has made is one out of ignorance of what I have already said: "...I really didn't understand the rest of your argument because it all revolved around this idea that there is a benefit to deluding oneself to a meaning of life.

What possible outcome can searching for a non-existent answer bring? Really?"

(it also contradicts his argument: "By offering no rational meaning of life the father...(could kill himself)."

The reiteration of my argument in a more understandable format

People, I have argued that the meaning of life is unique to each person. The justifiation for this is simple: no two individuals (except perhaps conjoined twins who have never been separated) live exactly the same lives. Therefore, every person sees life differenty from one another, expecially in the case of a devout Christian and an atheist; a devout Christian sees life as either a test or as a service to God while an atheist sees life in ways that differ even from another atheist. The meaning of life is not an objective concept (how could it be?), but a subjective concept; some see life as a service, a test, or as nothing more than to experience the most out of it. The only way the meaning of life could be an objective concept is if we were all given the same value systems and conditions. The meaning of life is merely what people make of it. If we are to say that God gave us enough intelligence to question the reason for our existence, then it does not undermine the fact that a meaning for life exists.

Searching for a meaning of life, as I have said before, yields beneficial results. It gives people a sense of direction (Christians who search for the meaning of their lives certainly have a strong sense of direction), a system with which people can use to measure their own progress (composers who feel that they are meant to write music can track where they are and where they must be at a given point in their lives) and it simplies the process of making decisions.

Even my opponent claims that the best one can do with his or her own life is to be useful to others. Essentially, he argues that life has no meaning except to act as an aid to others: "The only purpose we have in life is what we do for other forms of life isn't it (see round 3)."

There you have it; my opponent argues that the only meaning of life, which makes it THE meaning of life, is to help others. However, as I have said before, the meaning of life is subjective; I believe the reason of life is to serve God and write awesome music. You may have a different answer because you are not me and I am not you.
Debate Round No. 4
RationalMadman

Con

RationalMadman forfeited this round.
MaestroEvans

Pro

My opponent has failed to effectively negate my resolution that there is a meaning to life and that searching for a meaning for life is beneficial to those who do. Not to mention, he forfeited round four (of course, he closed his account). Thank you readers for following this debate to its conclusion.

Vote Pro.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by MaestroEvans 3 years ago
MaestroEvans
Critiques on my methodology of debate would be greatly appreciated.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by DoctorDeku 3 years ago
DoctorDeku
RationalMadmanMaestroEvansTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: Ding Dong, RM is dead! He forfeited, vote Pro instead!