In the offhand way philosophy professors drop bombs, my philosophy professor this summer casually said that in our society, the commonly accepted meaning of life is “self realization.”

Damn, I thought. This was the question I’d asked my mother when I was five and never gotten an answer to.  And my professor was so laid back and confident about it.

So I knew he had said something profound, but I didn’t quite know what to make of it.

A couple months have passed and I’ve thought it over: I think my professor was absolutely right.

Everywhere you look, people are aiming to become who they truly are.  We are told to follow our passions, to follow our heart, to stay true to ourselves.

In psychotherapy, for example, many people aim to overcome inhibitions and become their true selves.  In choosing a career, if we’re fortunate, we try to find what we’re meant to do.

There are other things a society could value as the meaning of life.  The meaning of life could be to play your role in your family or community.  Or it could be to adhere to a higher code like a religion.

And yet this approach to life is, by definition, gratifying. It makes the world is a place in which you can find what you need and become what I want.

One thought on “The Meaning of Life Part 1: Romanticism

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