Can it be that one of the meanings of life is to learn how to control emotions or to totally get rid of them?

I find emotions are a very destructive and disturbing mechanism. They affect our judgement and act like an autpilot on us. They take control over our actions and make us do things we normally or consciously wouldn't do. The worst of them are, I think, anger followed by fear. They are really hard to supress so that they don't autopilot us.

In my opinion people would act much wiser if they weren't affected by emotions (so much). They wouldn't quarrel but talk to find a solution. They wouldn't trigger wars because they got angry about something.

No matter if positive or negative emotions all of them make us to act not like us. I find it prety scary that we are not completely in control over things we do. Like we weren't qualified to do the job but some emergency mechanism had to do it for us.

So, is it not the meaning (or purpose) of life to take control over it and stop being driven by something that make us to regret our actions later? Is it not the meaning of life to stop being pushed but to define ourselves the directions?

I guess I didn't discover anything new but just was wondering what the science/philosophy already did/thought about it.

  • Thoughts like this are common throughout history. Stoicism and rational ethics are based on these thoughts. But it would be better if you'd rephrase your question so that it asks for supporting philosophical positions and/or authors. In the current state, it is opinion-based and not suitable for SE.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 9:44
  • Okey, I'll change the title and the question slightly.
    – metalnoise
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 9:47
  • The title of your post asks a different question than its first line. What is your point? - Does your first line really ask for the meaning of life or do you ask for the purpose or the sense of the goal of life? Because the meaning of life is discussed in textbooks of biology.
    – Jo Wehler
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 17:40
  • @JoWehler I've removed it. Apparently it's not ok to ask such questions under the [meaning-of-life] tag :-| meaning, purpose, sense, goal all the same. They are discussed in the textbooks of biology? No that I'm aware of. They just discuss or rather try to explain how chemistry or phyics works but they do not try to answer why it is like that.
    – metalnoise
    Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 17:51

2 Answers 2


What you are describing is the philosophy of the Stoics, a group of philosophers from Ancient Greece, and later Rome, whose central idea was that the main purpose in life was to live with dignity. They held that life was full of tragedies and misfortune, and humans had no control over their fate. The only real choice a person had was in how they faced life's hardships: do they cry and whimper or do they maintain their dignity and self-respect no matter what challenges they faced? The ideal Stoic remained calm and indifferent even in the face of torture or death.

One could also argue that Buddhism pushes a similar philosophy, although in that case the main objective was the suppression of desires in order to achieve enlightenment. Suppressing desires pretty much leads to the same thing as suppressing emotions. However, in Buddhism, the control of emotions is more of means to an end rather than an end in itself.


If the etymology of emotions is considered, (in Greek συγκίνηση, συν = together, common and κίνησης = movement, motion) then this could bring out that emotions are important parts of life. These are types of inner impulses that put us in movement.

Psychology considers very highly emotions and their styles, their management procedures and their externalization. The origin, differences, meaning, usefulness, over-accumulation of repressed emotions and more, are complicated subjects and a whole series of theories has been developed for their analysis. Emotions are not only created inside a particular individual but may represent projections of the collective desires and needs, back in the individual which the individual perceives as personal feelings, motivations and impulses.

As the externalization of emotions often produces difficulties in the functioning of social life control mechanisms are created or proposed, but often these control mechanisms form a reservoir of repressed impulses which are returning back with even greater force and urgency to their satisfaction.

Generally life as it is one of the more complex phenomena of the world seems unlikely that its meaning could be compressed into a single purpose.

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