‘Why’ and the Meaning of Life — there is a problem here

Meaning of life

It is easy to find that ‘life’ is very difficult to define and understand as a concept. Scientists and philosophers are continually unable to give a sound description of the concept. The line between the living and the non-living is not perfectly defined.

The ‘Why’ and ‘How’ questions

The problem with an objective analysis lies, I think, in the manner of thinking which we just can’t seem to shirk away. We, as a species of thinkers, have always wanted to attach meaning to our experiences. There is some meaning for most of the everyday observations around us, but an extension of the same to the problem of existence seems tricky. The word meaning is loosely tied to the question of Why. The meaning of an event is generally said to be understood if we answer the ‘why’ question.

A materialist’s perspective

Anyway, it is my intuition that the answer to the ‘how’ of existence might take us closer to the ‘why’ of existence. To think solidly as a materialist, the argument for existence problem might be something like this –

Can we know everything about our Universe?

For scientists to find out the ‘how’ of any question, they need credible evidence which, in this case, turns out to be lots of data. In acquiring this data about the early universe and the present universe, we have come across a big stumbling block — the universe is unimaginably large and the data that can reach us is unimaginably small. Furthermore, the data that we can receive have very finite speeds of coming to us. It is so finite and limited (or conversely the universe is so large) that we would need countless time to get most of it, and much of it is already lost to us too! Our own observations, experiments and conclusions tell us that it is virtually impossible to understand our universe in its entirety. We are doomed to make hypotheses (theories stand until they are proven wrong by a new observation and it’s difficult to see why we won’t get surprises) with the limited data we receive and be content with it.

So what if we are able to KNOW everything?

Suppose that we do get a pleasant surprise, a way to cheat the limitations we currently experience. Let’s assume we have been granted access to the dimension of time and that we can observe any time point at any space point of the universe without disturbing the events of that time (yes, a daring assumption). Let’s also assume that all other practical difficulties that may arise have been taken care. Now we have infinite data (infinite processing power too by this time), and we can un-cover all secrets of existence of the universe. Even with that kind of an all-encompassing explanation in that far away age, a person can very easily ask ‘Why all this at all?’. This is problematic. I personally see it as a valid question. The argument that the act of asking ‘why’ is an evolutionary brain relic is not a very satisfactory answer to me, though I don’t question the truth of the argument.