The Meaning of Life

What, then, is the meaning of it all? What can we say to dispel the mystery of existence?

If we take everything into account, not only what the ancients knew, but all of what we know today that they didn’t know, then I think that we must frankly admit that we do not know.

Richard Feynman (1918–1988).

Was the brilliant Mr. Feynman right?


It’s true, of course, that many have attempted to provide answers to the ultimate question: What is the meaning of life?

But have they succeeded in providing persuasive answers? No. At least not in my judgment. Nor in Mr. Feynman’s.

So where does that leave us?

It’s really quite simple, I believe. It leaves us to live the lives we have. More precisely, it leaves us to life our lives without the assurance it matters — in the overall scheme of things, that is.

We may tell ourselves it does. And perhaps some of our explanations have merit. Perhaps. But perhaps not. Perhaps it’s more self-delusion than anything else. Perhaps there simply isn’t any way of knowing. Perhaps the yoke of insignificance is humanity’s lot.

Nevertheless, there is much we do know.

We know what interests us.

We know what we do well.

We know what brings us fulfillment and a sense of purpose.

We know what makes us happy.

We know what seems “right” to us.

So focus on what we do know. Focus on what we can do to enhance our lives. Focus on that which is within our power.

If we do that, the unknowable will be much less troubling.

And if we’re fortunate, meaning will emerge.


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