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Why Ask What Is The Meaning of Life?

A question is irrelevant if it either has no answer, or the answer, even if presented, could not be known to be correct.  The content of the answer may be extremely relevant, but a question remains pointless if its answer is unknowable.  The question "What is the meaning of life?" is in this category.  The logically preceding question, "Does life have any objective meaning at all?", is in the same category.  Note the addition of the word "objective".  Obviously any life has subjective meaning to anyone who chooses to remain alive.  The question of objective meaning is the one that concerns people.  i.e.  Is there an objective reason not to squander one's resources on immediate pleasures and suicide out when it stops being fun?

A more relevant question is, "If life has objective meaning, then what might it mean?"  If this life is all there is, then any alleged meaning is made up by individuals, and is therefore subjective.  If there is an afterlife, then the pleasant-or-unpleasantness of it is of huge importance to anyone who may find himself in it.  If afterlife quality occurs by chance or caprice, then again the question of meaning is irrelevant, because there is no way to affect the outcome.

If what one believes determines the quality of his afterlife, then belief is of huge importance - or so it first appears.  What if the quality of your afterlife depends on believing (i.e. thinking to be probable) the right set of assertions?  This would make sense if the most probable set of assertions could be figured out, and believing that set of assertions got you the best quality afterlife.  But what if there is insufficient data to determine the most probable set of assertions?  Then believing it is a matter of chance, and the question of meaning is again irrelevant.

Worse yet, what if the set of assertions that gets you the best quality afterlife contains improbabilities?  Then anyone who recognizes those improbabilities would reject it.  Not even willfully; they would reject it automatically.  Probability judgment is an involuntary act.  It happens in the mind without conscious effort or choice.  If you think a particular proposition to be true, you cannot, by willful effort, think it to be false.  You can pretend to think it false, but you can't actually change your judgment.  So if the best quality afterlife depends on believing improbabilities, then not only is the question of meaning irrelevant, but the whole system is grossly unjust.

If, however, one's willful actions determine the quality of his afterlife, then the decision of how to behave is the most important consideration.  If one's actions are judged objectively, then objective meaning exists.  This requires at least one, and preferably multiple "judgment days".  It also requires a just judge - unless you can be comfortable as a sycophant or asshole.  If the judge is an egotist who gives the best rewards to his most obsequious flatterers, then only sycophants can be happy.  If the judge is a crime-boss who gives the best rewards to his best producers, then only unethical assholes can be happy.  In both cases, the "best" people (those of high ethics, morals, and integrity) are screwed.  In such a situation, the sum total of all life is worse off than non-life, and therefore if the creator of life is personal, then he is evil relative to his creation.

Only if justice prevails can life as a whole be preferable to non-life, and therefore be said to have objective meaning.  Therefore behave in a manner that causes you to deserve what you want.  Abandon the worthless question, bet your life on justice, and operate in total confidence that if life has meaning, you've got it covered.  If not, you're no more screwed than everybody else.  Doing the best you can do with the data you have, and circumstances in which you live, is all that any just judge could possibly hold you accountable for.

If however, you fear that justice may exist, but you don't want what you deserve, then you're a candidate for one of the religions that promise reward for believing the right set of improbabilities.