The meaning of life is in the philosophical and religious conceptions of existence, social ties, consciousness, and happiness, and borders on many other issues, such as symbolic meaning, ontology, value, purpose, ethics, good and evil, free will, the existence of one or multiple Gods, conceptions of God, the soul, and the afterlife. Scientific contributions focus primarily on describing related empirical facts about the universe, exploring the context and parameters concerning the 'how' of life. Science also studies and can provide recommendations for the pursuit of well-being and a related conception of morality. An alternative, humanistic approach poses the question "What is the meaning of my life?" The value of the question pertaining to the purpose of life may coincide with the achievement of ultimate reality, or a feeling of oneness, or even a feeling of sacredness.
2 Western philosophical perspectives
2.1 Ancient Greek philosophy
2.2 Enlightenment philosophy
2.3 19th century philosophy
2.4 20th century philosophy
3 East Asian philosophy
4 Religious perspectives
4.1 Western religions
4.2 South Asian religions
4.3 East Asian religions
5 Scientific inquiry and perspectives
5.1 Psychological significance and value in life
5.2 Origin and nature of biological life
5.3 Origins and ultimate fate of the universe
5.4 Scientific questions about the mind
5.5 Physical health
6 In popular culture
7 Popular views
7.1 To realize one's potential and ideals
7.2 To achieve biological perfection
7.3 To seek wisdom and knowledge
7.4 To do good, to do the right thing
7.5 Meanings relating to religion
7.6 To love, to feel, to enjoy the act of living
7.7 To have power, to be better
7.8 Life has no meaning
7.9 One should not seek to know and understand the meaning of life
7.10 Life is bad
8 See also
10 External links
Questions about the meaning of life have been expressed in a broad variety of ways, including the following:
What is the meaning of life? What's it all about? Who are we?
Philosopher in Meditation (detail) by Rembrandt
Why are we here? What are we here for?
What is the origin of life?
What is the nature of life? What is the nature of reality?
What is the purpose of life? What is the purpose of one's life?
What is the significance of life? – see also Psychological significance and value in life
What is meaningful and valuable in life?
What is the value of life?
What is the reason to live? What are we living for?
These questions have resulted in a wide range of competing answers and arguments, from scientific theories, to philosophical, theological, and spiritual explanations.
Western philosophical perspectives
The philosophical perspectives on the meaning of life are those ideologies which explain life in terms of ideals or abstractions defined by humans.
Ancient Greek philosophy
Plato and Aristotle in The School of Athens fresco, by Raphael. Plato is pointing heavenwards to the sky, and Aristotle is gesturing to the world.
Main article: Platonism
Plato was one of the earliest, most influential philosophers—mostly for idealism—a belief in the existence of universals. In the Theory of Forms, universals do not physically exist, like objects, but as heavenly forms. In The Republic, the Socrates character's dialogue describes the