I am interested in the best “purpose for life” rather than answering the question, “Why were we created?” These are related questions for some people, but I want to know if anything really matters.
I am not going to try to answer the question, “Is there a meaning of life?” in this essay. Instead, I want to clarify what the question means. What would it mean if there is a meaning of life? What would it mean if there isn’t? The belief that there is a meaning of life (i.e. that something really does matter) is basically what philosophers call “intrinsic value.” If something really matters, then it has a very important sort of value. In general, we want to increase the number of good things and decrease the number of bad things in the world.
Intrinsic values has been part of philosophical discourse for thousands of years, but it has rarely been described well, and even philosophers seem to misunderstand what “intrinsic values” are supposed to refer to. In order to describe intrinsic values, I will discuss the following:
- What the term “intrinsic value” does and does not refer to.
- How people misunderstand intrinsic values