I'm wondering:

  1. Humans are mortal. Death seems to nullify any gains made by the self to the self.
  2. Humans are subject to natural impulses towards actions (for example, we are compelled by natural drives to eat, mate, innovate, and explore)
  3. Some humans want strong reasons to pursue an activity

None of the human pursuits seem to have a lasting reward. For a collective-oriented person, it might be ok pursue that which builds the collective. For a more self-oriented person, action might seem meaningless given the fact that its impact on the self is only temporal. I don't think it's better to be either of the two.

Independence, career progression, riches, fame, status, maintaining the family, etc might be strong incentives to pursue actions. I fail to see how they (and any other actions) are strong rational reasons, ie, from the point of view of eternity. I think that our pursuits are mostly incentivized by our subconscious, which serves the entirety of life - not just humans, but all species and kingdoms of life. I think nature (through) natural selection doesn't favor the continuation of creatures that don't make pursuits. What it favors might be creatures that want to survive.

Have you come across strong reasons for having pursuits in life?

  • 2
    If the concluding question is aimed at the users here, such polling is off-topic on this SE. And it is generally unclear how the preceding arguments are supposed to rule out "strong reasons" for pursuits. How exactly does death nullify the gains made by the self to the self during its life? Why does a lasting reward have to be everlasting to be worthwhile? And how is caring about the point of view of eternity at all rational for mortals? Even with eternity, eternal boredom might nullify all incentives much more readily than eventual death.
    – Conifold
    May 19, 2023 at 3:30
  • It's my suspicion that clues to this puzzle can be found in art. Also, do factor in Minkowskian spacetime to vaporize the champion of human pursuit. KO in 3 secs flat! I'm just happy that there's an inexplicable convergence of illness and health (sensu amplissimo). Of course, of course, we not outta the deep and dark woods. You'll need to study how election campaigns are managed - many moving parts, more the merrier, eh? Nuff said!
    – Hudjefa
    May 19, 2023 at 4:21
  • @Conifold I'm curious why this is off topic. This SE seems to be the most fit of all for this question. Death nullifies gains to the self, because death destroys the self, imo. The self no longer exists to enjoy the gains it made, though such gains may be enjoyed by other individuals. On a lasting reward, I think one wants to pursue something with the most permanent gains or least permanent negative consequences. That's why, imo, short term pain for long term gain is a good thing. The converse seems unwise. So relative permanency/eternity of gains is important. Wdym eternal boredom?
    – Hex Heager
    May 19, 2023 at 4:27
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    Thanks @AgentSmith but what clues can be found in art that address the question. Clearly articulable clues would be appreciated.
    – Hex Heager
    May 19, 2023 at 4:32
  • 2
    @ScottRowe They typically spend more time refining them than SE users, which makes answers more substantive and to the point, and reduces debates in the comments.
    – Conifold
    May 20, 2023 at 20:04

2 Answers 2


Why is eternity required for meaning? Why would any result or consequence being eternal, if that were possible, make an act meaningful?

In Buddhist thought, impermanence is understood as one of the Three Marks of Existence, and failing to understand that it is inevitable, as one of the deep drivers of suffering.

I argue here that meaning is essentially impossible as an isolated individual: What is the difference, after death, of a 90-year-old and a one-year-old? The Private Language Argument provides another way to understand that contradiction.

I argue here that we find meaning by connecting our lives to larger themes and narratives: What are some philosophical works that explore constructing meaning in life from an agnostic or atheist view?

It's important to consider what meaning does for us, what meaning means. Discussed here: According to the major theories of concepts, where do meanings come from?

"Some humans want strong reasons to pursue an activity"

And some don't. Some like strong flavours, or strong drink. Surely it is just such a preference. 'Strong' in this context probably means, cohering together actions with worldview, aligning many motivations together. That relates to motivation, also to self-knowledge, and sense of purpose relationally to that. In this answer, I relate reconciling different aspects of who we are and conflicts among our motives, to how we should understand wisdom: Wisdom and John Vervaeke's awakening from the meaning crises?

Camus suggests we must 'imagine Sisyphus happy', while cursed to do endless toil that cannot really matter in the long run. A more positive spin on the same thing is found in play:

"Man's maturity: to have regained the seriousness that he had as a child at play." -Nietzsche, in Beyond Good & Evil

In this answer I relate art to play, as creativity with what creativity can be: Video games as new art

Eternity is a mirage, it can't imbue meaning. In fact, presence of our purpose in the moment of action, is a much better guide:

"The meaning and purpose of dancing, is the dance." -Alan Watts

  1. Brain and body are mortal - that i know. i m not my body and my brain, they are just tools. i use tools, for art.
  2. Animals are subject to natural impulses, humans probably too, but you don't have to follow this doctrine without the personal cause.
  3. Most of people have a reactive lazy mind, dumb to their inner voices, they are too loud overside but they are silent inside.

Wise men invented society games, thier rules, they involved people in them at the role play statuses and call them "humans". Humans need external stimulus to be active, this training method that wise men used to human beings called "positive reinforcement". "positive reinforcement" cases dopamine getting to brain. "All you need is dopamine, not love, or love=dopamine". When you are thinking about or getting a reward that you wished - your brain got a dopamine and you think that you feel "happiness". the more a reward signifie to nothing, then more dopamine you will get for free.

Life on deposit - is a very lucky trick for a wise men: humans unable to create self-strategic of life and world are very profitable beings.

  • "Fools rush in, where wise men never go But wise men never fall in love So how are they to know"
    – CriglCragl
    May 20, 2023 at 17:58
  • @CriglCragl So they don't know, that is why they think that love is dopamine. They really think they are going well, but, they never fell in love, and will not ever rise. Lich - zombie's lord, you know.. May 20, 2023 at 22:34
  • Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise.
    – CriglCragl
    May 20, 2023 at 22:52
  • @CriglCragl Ha! but this is not an ignorance, this is an intentional misleading, intentional misleading is bliss by the wises, for the blessed sake of their implementation of plans, for the sake of preservation the leading "best of" and to keep their places at the top of the hill. the fish rots from the head. If the dog has no head, the tail is wagging the dog. i know one wises leader fell off his bike, on the airladder, you know, forgets where the exit from the pace under the lite is... Leads that blame their believers that they are going wrong way, oh man, let them go then-but they never let May 21, 2023 at 11:48
  • @CriglCragl do you know what is the true words? May 21, 2023 at 11:48

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