Life: The Hows and Whys
The Necessity of Recognizing the Ultimate Aim of Life
We can present several reasons why it is necessary to recognize the ultimate aim of life:
1-Many schools of thought throughout history have attempted to seek and present the aim of life. They regard goals merely higher than the petty goals of life as the ultimate end of life. If the relative goals in natural life really could provide the ultimate goal of life, there would be no more need for research on the philosophy of life.
2-As man's knowledge and dominance over his life increases, it has been proven that man's true life is meaningless without choosing higher aims for life. Without an intelligible aim, human life will lose all its value and significance.
3-If the universe and the phenomenon called life have no aim, life will have no meaning at all. As Nasser Khusro, the renowned Iranian poet says:
روزگار و چرخ و انجم سر به سر بازيستیگر نه اين روز دراز دهر را فرداستی
(All this world and stars are not all of what there is; someday, all this will come to an end.)
Various Viewpoints on the Aim of Life
There are many different schools of thought on what the aim of life is. Let us study some of them further:
1-Personal goals: Some people consider what they desire, like money, power, science and maybe even serving people as their main aim in life.
2-Power: Some intellectuals, like Nietzsche, believe power to be the main aim of life.
3-Making the best choice: Some people, like Nero, Genghis Khan, Alexander and the pharaohs, are regarded as the best choice in natural life schools of thought.
4-Hedonism: Hedonists believe that saturating one's need for pleasure is the main aim of life. They have mistaken the interpretation of the mechanism of purely natural life for the main aim of life.
5-Comfort and luxury: Some schools of thought see the main aim of life in having luxury and comfort. "Can anyone accept the logic that you should lose your life today, so that a living human being in future may have a comfortable life? Now that life today is not any less comfortable than the future, why should it be sacrificed? Furthermore, those human beings whom history remembers as distinguished and aware, did not even consider their own comfort as their aim of life; how can they consider the comfort of beings like themselves in future as their aim of life?
6-Man: Some schools of thought believe that man is the aim of life. Moral ethics, avoiding disturbing others, activating human emotions and respect toward others are the main principles of this belief. The problem with it, however, is that it provides no logical grounds for man to give up his greed, and learn how to sacrifice his own wishes for the sake of others'.
7-Abstracting the soul from material interests: Some Indian religions consider the aim of life as purifying the soul from all desires, whims and wishes. Although this belief reinforces one aspect of the soul, it ignores the others, which are activated by establishing a correct relationship between man and the universe. The climax of this aim of life is when the abstraction-seeker considers himself as God, claiming that there is nothing in him but God. After quite convincing study and thoughts that satisfy my conscience, I have come to the conclusion that these Indians, having reached an extremely delicate view of the universe, where they are able to see the universe as a unit for their own perception, make a very strange mistake – instead of realizing how great their soul is, they make God seem smaller! We can say, however, that if the human soul makes such mistakes in these delicate states, their soul truly has made no progress at all.
8-Nirvana: Presented by Buddha, this belief is said to be achieved by abstracting the soul away from material and physical pleasures. Nirvana ignores man's talents and potentials, making the human ego fall astray from its true path. In other words, it omits some facts about man.
9-Absolute freedom: Here, being released from any form of confinement or limitation is considered as the aim of life. Simpletons who follow such a belief have not understood the meaning of freedom correctly, for freedom is a means, not an end. Freedom is the power to choose, and if ccompanied by proper thought and choice, can elevate man. Since freedom arises from the dynamism of life, it cannot even be the partial aim of life, let alone the main one.
10-The ultimate aim of life in divine religions: Life, as seen in divine religions, is an outstanding effect of God's will. Thus, the aim of life is to reach God. The Holy Koran has also expressed the aim of life in various ways.