My last post featured a video of a philosopher’s reflections on the meaning of life as he neared death. The post elicited this response from a reader, Austin Stiller, which I reprint here in full.
It’s foolish to think that there’s an answer out there in the world to this question, [what’s the point of it all?] that there’s a transcendental answer … Those answers seem like self-delusion to my mind. The universe doesn’t care about life, about anything. We do and we’re indebted to each other.
So in terms of our mutual connections, it’s not foolish to think of a point to life. Not just humans either. In terms of what was given to us and what we continually take from other lives and our environment balanced with what we contribute back. Not simply extracting value and death as a tax on others to sustain our existence except as justified by enhancing the lives and world around us. That with rights come responsibilities, that everything must be in balance. Perhaps I’m overly austere. I have uneasy qualms about existing for the sake of existing or getting old and that video strays very close, maybe over that line for me.
The idea that we don’t inherit our place in the world but borrow it from those who come after us makes a lot of sense. Systems that are furthest from that seem to be the most unstable — and less just and more immoral. We borrow from what others have made of it with the charge to pass it on better still for the next people to borrow. I think we should look at our food, our purchases, etc and reflect more regularly on what we’re going to do today to justify our having it, our taking it, our asking others to have sacrificed small or large for our benefit.
I find this video about old age to be both moving and with a better grasp of what life is about.