Post 3: The Meaning of Life
Richard Taylor theorizes why human existence and life are objectively meaningless by shedding light on both the objective and subjective views of the meaning of life. In his explanation, Taylor uses an example from an ancient Greek myth of Sisyphus. Sisyphus, a Greek man, offended the gods. This leads him to get sentenced to roll a large stone up a hill for eternity.
Similarly, I think that the life of Sisyphus is similar to life in college; it is objective. Yet, an individual’s meaning in life is also subjective because any person or object can implement meaning into their lives through change or manifestation. As an example, a rock is inanimate. Humans can institute meaning in a rock by using it as a tool. Likewise, a person’s action does not constitute a purposeful life; their desired action is insufficient for living a meaningful life. Therefore, I am afraid I have to disagree with Richard Taylor’s meaning of life. I believe that God’s Blessing upon us is a good life and that us receiving His blessing through Faith is the definition of living a meaningful life.
Richard Taylor begins by describing his theory of what an individual’s meaning in life is. He believes that one can live a purposeful and fulfilled life as long as they realize their will, which extends to their involvement in and enjoyment of their own life. “This is surely the way to look at all of life — at one’s own life…day…and moment; of the life of a nation…the species …world…and of everything that breathes” (Taylor p 27). He then began to prove his meaning of life through the myth of Sisyphus.
The gods sentenced Sisyphus to push a rock uphill for all eternity. After reaching the top of the hill, the rock would roll back down again, which punishes him for resuming all over again. Sisyphus, therefore, has no hope to ever complete and accomplish his task, yet quitting is not optional. Applying this method, Taylor explains that just giving Sisyphus’s actions as an objectively good or valuable end will not miraculously give life meaning. Taylor reasons that life is identical to the life of Sisyphus. Life is nothing but a sequence of struggles surrounded by hurdles. This hence causes life to repeat itself until it eventually concludes without meaning.
Tuition at the University of Southern California is nearly $60,000. Yet, society still persuades students to continue unto high-level education and major in a field they desire despite the enduring consequence: inflated tuition.
In the section titled, “Meaninglessness of Life,” Richard Taylor states meaninglessness as “endless pointlessness.” He describes the absurd condition: we build our lives on the hope for tomorrow, yet rationality and science cannot explain the world: their stories endlessly without any meaningful event or thought. Equally, I think that college resembles the actions of Sisyphus. For example, tuition at the University of Southern California is nearly $60,000. Yet, society still persuades students to continue unto high-level education and major in a field they desire despite the enduring consequence: inflated tuition.
We complete one educational level and transition into another for about four or so years to receive yet another paper that validates our intelligence. Diplomas prove that we have extensive knowledge in a potential career or field of passion. This allows applying for qualifiable jobs. However, we must either work diligently to climb the ladder beyond entry-level careers or occupations. In order to receive a promotion or switch careers, we must garner more experiences; therefore, a degree is virtually meaningless. It is compounding debt, which compares to Sisyphus rolling stones uphill and downhill.
However, meaningfulness is also subjective according to Taylor. It is subjective because an individual can choose to live according to their desires. “We do achieve things — we scale our towers and raise our stones to the hilltops — but every such accomplishment fades, providing only an occasion for renewed labors of the same kind (Taylor).” We can use our own willpower such as our passion or fascination to find ourselves living life with independence and pleasure. For example, a rock is just a rock. We can give a rock meaning by using a rock as a weapon or as a building block to construct a building. In other words, we can spontaneously give an objective meaning or significance. Therefore, the meaning of life is liberation through subjectivity.
Meaninglessness can be both objective and subjective. For instance, many student-athletes believe that their meaning in life is to become professional athletes. Yet the odds of anyone becoming a professional is higher than the chances of him or her getting struck by lightning. So many must choose another meaning in their life; and in most cases, they become another ordinary citizen working a typical day job as their life. Since people change, their views and understanding also change; this is the subjective meaning in life. The objective meaning is that student-athletes transition into adulthood as a laborer until death.
In addition, an individual doing what they want does not guarantee meaningfulness in life. Some may genuinely desire and choose to do what is dissolute for themselves, but yet he or she may believe that their decision is good for them. For example, we used the example of an excrement eater and heroin addict in class. A heroin addict takes drugs for self-indulgence instead of self-preservation: preserving their body for the long-term future. An individual may act in a certain way that is meaningless, but their actions can be detrimental to others. As an example, a terrorist may commit a mass shooting without any life purpose but murders hundreds of innocent civilians.
The meaning of human life is for humans to walk by faith instead of by sight (2Corinthians 5:7)
Nonetheless, I disagree with Richard Taylor’s meaning of life. I disagree because I believe that the good life is God’s Blessing upon humanity. God promises that He blesses those who live by His Word and cherish life, as well as those who live by faith (1st Peter 3:12). I think that faith is the foundation of human life. Therefore, I believe that the meaning of human life is for humans to walk by faith instead of by sight (2Corinthians 5:7). Walking by faith allows us to reach a magnitude beyond the unimaginable. I essentially believe in faith because Jesus Christ Himself encountered challenges such as his crucifixion because of his testament to God. Christ chose crucifixion over pride. Christ’s leap of faith is a testimony of God the Father’s own faith in humanity.
For instance, after leaving my mom during my Junior year, I missed her presence which made me regret leaving. I then succumbed to regret, which led to mental guilt. I felt guilty for quitting on my mother amidst her battle with her mental illness. This guilt progressed into me feeling overwhelmed during my senior year. In addition, I experienced an inconsistent academic performance such as in my Pre-calculus and A.P Biology. Nonetheless, my mental and academic adversity nurtured me as I transitioned into college. I am now adapting to the rigor of college: papers, tests, and exams through my doubts and regrets.
Richard Taylor’s essential view is that the elevated purpose in life is objective, meanwhile, the granular purpose in life is subjective. His theory for the meaning in life does not apply to everyone’s life. Countless obstacles are thrown into an individual’s life as challenges. Yet God assuredly does not forsake one through their difficulties. Although belief in God is indefinite, tenacious faith in Him through life is the ultimate meaning of life. We must consult with Him in faith and not doubt or fear. Otherwise, life would result in Richard Taylor’s meaning of life — vanity and anguish like Sisyphus.