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Elizabeth Inness-Brown

Date of Birth: May 1, 1954

Date Submitted: January 22, 2018

Religious Affiliation: None—could say “Christian” (formerly Episcopalian)

What is the meaning of life?

By “the meaning of life,” I assume you mean to humans.  Life beyond humans has one meaning (or purpose): to perpetuate life, either as an individual member or as a member of a species.  Only humans seek other meanings beyond that, and I would have to say that each human must seek his or her own meaning in life.  To a human, I think the words “meaning” an “purpose” are almost identical, because one feels that one’s life has meaning when one feels that one is serving a valuable purpose, whether that purpose is providing food and shelter for a family, doing a job, or simply seeking self-fulfillment—that is, fulfilling one’s potential, whether as an artist or as a friend.  I do not think that human life is innately meaningful; it is meaningful only insofar as we imbue it with meaning.  That is, in fact, one’s ultimate purpose: to seek and lead a meaningful life.  Even a psychotic has the drive to make meaning of his or her life—albeit one that the rest of us might find counter-meaningful.  When, in depression, one talks of one’s life being “empty,” one means it has no meaning or purpose.  This is perhaps ultimately what causes depression in the elderly who are abandoned by friends and family: they have no purpose, no meaning.  They may have plenty of “things to do,” but those things are without meaning because they serve no real purpose.  I do not think, as some might say, that “love is the meaning of life,” but love of something may be that which gives life meaning, whether it is love of family, love of art, love of money, or any other kind of love.  Now what is love?  There is a question worth asking. 

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