Mr. Nobody: A True Philosophical Journey

mr_nobodyI have just seen the movie ‘Mr. Nobody’, and I recommend anyone who is interested in philosophy to go see this movie. It’s by far the most philosophical and mind-boggling movie I have ever seen. The movie shows, among other things, the lack of control we have over the course of our lives. Each and every moment in life you make decisions that make you go one way or another, and this string of decisions is – in fact – what we call our lives. The movie also portrays a rather deterministic view on life. The butterfly effect, as explicated in the movie, is the prime example of this; even the smallest change in the course of history can make our lives turn out completely different from what it would have been without the change.

Each movie can be interpreted in multiple ways, and that surely goes for Mr. Nobody. Nonetheless, I believe that from a philosophical point of view there is at least one issue that is very prominent, and that is the struggle between free will on the one hand and determinism on the other.

What will follow might be hard to grasp for those who have not seen the movie yet. Therefore I assume that, by this point, you have seen the movie. At first sight, Mr. Nobody is all about choices. That is: what will happen in Nemo’s life given that he has made a certain choice (e.g., to either jump on the train or not). The fact that there is this possibility of at least two different worlds Nemo could live in (i.e., the one with his mother and the one with his father) seems to imply that Nemo had (in retrospect) the possibility of choosing either of the options. And it is this element of what seems to be some form of autonomy (the ‘free will’ element) that returns frequently in the movie. Another instance of it can be found in his meeting with Elise on her doorstep. In one ‘life’ Nemo expresses his feelings for Elise, after which they get married and get children. In another life, Nemo does not express his feelings, and his potential future with Elise never occurs.

However, the true question I asked myself after watching this movie was: does Nemo in fact have the possibility to choose? Or are his ‘choices’ predetermined by whatever it is that occurs in his environment? An instance of the latter could be found in Nemo loosing Anna’s number because the paper he wrote her number on becomes wet (and therefore unreadable). In other words, these circumstances seem to force (or at least push) Nemo in the direction of a life without Anna; a circumstance that ultimately results from an unemployed Brazilian boiling an egg, which is another instance of the butterfly effect. So although it might appear that Nemo has the opportunity to make choices, it might in fact be that ‘the world’ (as in the environment he is living in) has already made this choice for him.

The struggle between the apparent existence of free will and the ‘true’ deterministic nature of the world is just one among many philosophical issues raised by this movie. Another is that of the arrow of time: the fact that we cannot alter the past but can influence the future. It is this aspect of time (the fact that it moves in one direction only) that makes the free will versus determinism issue so difficult (if not impossible) to resolve. After all, if we could simply go back in time, and see whether we would have behaved in the same manner, irrespective of the non-occurrence of any circumstances, we might get a much better feel on the nature of free will. After all, if we would happen to act more or less the same, irrespective of the circumstances we would be put into, we would appear to have something resembling free-will. If not, determinism might be the more realistic option.

Nonetheless, this is a very interesting movie whom those interested in philosophy will surely enjoy. And to those who have seen it I ask: what did you think of it?

The Life of a Twenty-something

Most of the people that are in their early twenties seem to have no clue what profession to choose. They appear to be lost in the vast range of opportunities that they have to choose from. But why is that these ‘twenty-somethings’ feel this way? And how might they solve this issue?

From Stability to Instability back to Stability
Let’s start by taking a general perspective on the life of a twenty-something (being: a person who is in his twenties). The issue of what occupation to choose is by no means the only issue the twenty-something has to deal with. In general the following statement holds: as a twenty-something you are part of a transition-phase in life; a transition from stability, through instability, back to stability.

For the first part of her (I will say ‘her’ instead of ‘him/her’) life, the twenty-something-to-be did not have the freedom to choose whatever she believed was best. Or at least not concerning ‘big’ matters. It were the parents that took the decisions for her. They were the ones deciding what kindergarten, primary school, high school and – in some cases even – university she would attend. Also, within each of these institutions, the space to manoeuvre was limited. There were fixed programmes she had to attend. Resistance would have been futile, since her opinion was considered mostly irrelevant. The twenty-something-to-be was aware of her limited capacity to change the status quo, which made her suppress the need to reflect on the situation.

But it was not only regarding education that this (apparent) lack of control over her life had arisen. Decisions of where to live, what sports or musical instruments to play, and of course financial issues, were mostly if not exclusively handled by her parents. It was only when the twenty-something-to-be began attending university that freedom rose its head. And it is here that the trouble starts. Because even though freedom in itself is not what troubles the twenty-something-to-be, its counterpart – called ‘responsibility’ – is what makes her tremble. It is the responsibility for the consequences of her own actions that leaves her in a state of apathy. Now she has to take the decisions that up till that point in her life were made by everyone but her.

This phase of by times close to existential doubt ends when the twenty-something has gained long-term stability in her life again. Like being child, becoming a member of the working class implies the familiar presence of fixed rules and the limited need for self-reflection. Having made a choice of what occupation to pursue, and the act of actually pursuing this occupation, makes the twenty-something become immersed into a new institutional structure, making her rest in the faith of having found certainty after a very uncertain period in her life.

From Farmer to Professor
Back to the main issue. Many twenty-somethings appear to feel lost in the sense that they totally don’t know what profession to choose after finishing their studies. What more can we say about this feeling of ‘being lost’? The first thing we could notice is that this feeling appears to be a defining characteristic of what it means to be a twenty-something: it is a property that, by default, is present in any twenty-something’s set of basic characteristics. Given that it is a defining characteristic, it seems reasonable to assume that this feeling has been around forever. But this is not the case…

When I asked people in their fifties whether they knew what profession to choose when they were in their early twenties, they mostly replied negatively. However, when I asked the same question to my grandparents, they said the following: ‘Well, we didn’t really have a choice about what kind of job to do.’ My grandfather told to me that he grew up in a farmer’s family, and that from a very early age it was more or less ‘obvious’ that he would become a farmer himself. My grandmother, the eldest girl of thirteen children, was at the age of fourteen forced to quit her studies so that she could assist her mum in managing the ever-growing household. ‘But’, I asked my grandmother, ‘was there no-one in your family who attended university? ‘Yes, one of us did,’ she said, ‘He had the talent to do so.’ My grandmother assured me that this scarcity of university-attending students was very common among families in those days (70 years ago).

So it seems that the feeling of don’t knowing what profession to choose, as experienced by so many twenty-somethings today, is in fact a relatively new phenomenon. That is: until two generations ago this feeling wasn’t widely shared among twenty-somethings. And the reason for this is, as my grandparents explained, quite obvious: people didn’t effectively have a choice about what to do with their lives. I say ‘lives’ instead of ‘professional lives’, since also regarding other matters in life (religion and to a lesser extent marriage) the autonomy of twenty-somethings appeared to be limited. One could say that, in principle, my grandparents still had the option to deviate from what was expected of them. Assuming that they would have had the financial means to do so (which they didn’t), they could in principle indeed have done so. But in practice, given the social norms and values, they were either explicitly or implicitly discouraged from pursuing higher education or choosing a non-farming/housemaid job.

Nowadays the societies we grow up in are organized in a manner that is fundamentally different from the society of (let’s say) 70 years ago. Today, in contrast to two generations ago, the financial resources required for attending university are available to almost anyone who has the capacity and desire to attend university. Scholarships, government-funded studies, cheap loans and financially affluent parents are among the prime factors that have drastically reduced the chance of being unable to fund one’s higher education.

Next to a shift in the financing of studies, a society-wide ‘mental’ shift seems to have taken place. This is easily seen by taking a look at an arbitrary high school: a child who receives a certificate that allows him to pursue higher education is nowadays frowned upon if he decides not to do so. Whereas two generations ago a farmer-son would by default become a farm unless he had very good reasons not to do so, nowadays a farmer-son by default attends university unless he has very good reasons not to do so. This mental shift might be due to changes in our educational system. Today we have a system in which any child goes through a university-preparing teaching scheme, thereby maximizing their chance to attend university.

Note also that the financial- and mental shift might be interdependent: a shift in outlook towards children’s education might cause a change in educational funding, and vice versa.

Opportunities, opportunities, opportunities
But attending university is in itself no reason to become clueless about what kind of job to pursue. So explaining why it is that many more children today attend university than two generations ago does not explain why these people feel lost when reaching their twenties.

Although not a direct cause of ‘apathy’ among many twenty-somethings, one thing is for sure: pursuing higher education provides anyone with the potential to have more choices regarding what job to pursue. By attending university, the twenty-something knows that – without even looking at the labour market – she will be eligible for more occupations than she was before entering her studies. This fact implies that, when the twenty-something finally settles on a job, there will be more occupations (compared to her not having done her studies) she could have chosen but didn’t. It is the possibility that later on she might reflect upon her life and think ‘I could have chosen better’ that could be part of the explanation of the apathy among twenty-somethings. And since this possibility has increased over the last decades, so has the apathy among twenty-somethings.

Another consequence of higher education that isn’t necessary obvious is that over the course of her education the twenty-something’s interests might change; that is, the occupations/sciences the twenty-something found interesting before embarking on her studies, she might not find interesting anymore when she has finished her educational process. For example: she might finish her first year of university wanting to become a business-consultant, only realizing after finishing her second year (which included courses in philosophy) that she is much more passionate about philosophy. It is not the change in what she finds interesting that makes the twenty-something doubt about what kind of profession to pursue, as much as having experienced that whatever it is that she finds interesting can in fact change. And the idea that – as in education – she could choose a job that she likes now but possibly not anymore in the future increases her uncertainty regarding what job the choose.

Education is merely one of the factors making a twenty-something doubt her occupational choice; it is the part that transforms her from ‘the inside out’. Now, let’s take a look at how the outside world (i.e., the world external to the twenty-something’s mind and body) contributes to the doubts held by the 21st century twenty-something. There are a number of reasons due to the outside world because of which twenty-somethings nowadays have such a hard time choosing an occupation. First of all, because of the ever-increasing specialization, there are simply many more occupations she has to choose from than there were two generations ago. Whereas in the past there might not have been (many) alternatives next to becoming a farmer, nowadays there are literally thousands and thousands of occupations she has to (not only can) choose from, and each of these occupations is partitioned into many areas of specialization.

Also, because of globalization and the prominence of the internet, many barriers have been taken away that could have prevented the twenty-something from 20 years ago from doing whatever it was that she wanted to do. In other words: there is no excuse anymore for not starting a business or for not working at a big firm on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. There is nothing but her own courage to withhold her from pursuing her aspirations; a scary thought. To exemplify this, let’s return to the case of my grandmother. It was clear to her that, after assisting her mum, she would marry a farmer and take care of his household. She might not have liked having few – if any – options about what ‘job’ to pursue, but that was simply the way it was. A positive side effect from her having limited options was that she was ripped of the responsibility to decide what her future would (not) come to look like. It is in this sense that she might have been lucky, for she was saved from the daunting soul-searching journey so many twenty-somethings today are forced to go through.

Options
I have mentioned the word ‘options’ more than once. I dare to say that most people believe that having options is a good thing. Certain philosophers even claim that autonomy (as in having the freedom to decide what one’s life goals are, how to pursue them and whether or not to actually pursue them) is intrinsically valuable. This is a conviction I do not necessarily share.

Like anything, having options becomes a problem if one faces too many options. And I believe this is the issue today’s twenty-somethings are facing. Specialization, the internet et cetera have drastically increased the number of career-options a twenty-something could fulfill; they have increased them to such an extent that she, being a rationally bounded creature (as any human being is), is both unable to overview all of them, let alone compare each option to each other option. Although impossible, the latter is required in order to make an optimal decision. After all, how can the twenty-something ever come to know whether she has made the best choice if she hasn’t considered/compared all options?

Next to there being too many options, there might be options that are incomparable. Why? Because the values they allow one to achieve are not ‘convertible to the same currency’. Think about the choice between becoming a charity worker or an investment banker. The first job might be better in terms of helping those who need help; the second might be better in terms of utilizing one’s intellectual capabilities. But which one of these criteria is most important, and why? And how much more important? These are questions that do not have an obvious (if any) answer.

Back to the claim that having options is not necessarily a good thing. Let’s return to the case of the farmer’s son. Given that the farmer’s son knows that he has no choice but to become a farmer, he is likely to never experience the regret (or the apathy caused by the prospect of regret) that today’s twenty-something faces. Nevertheless, when we analyse the farmer’s son situation, and come to see that his only ‘option’ is to become a farmer, we tend to feel sorry for him. It seems like having only one option is really not having an option at all, making his ‘choice’ to become a farmer look more like an act of coercion than an act of free will, contradicting the autonomy many of us find so valuable. However, due to this same lack of options, the farmer’s son will have no choice but to rest in his faith. He simply cannot do anything to alter his situation: he can only accept or resist his situation. He will accept his situation, because not doing so would decrease his happiness.

For today’s twenty-something it is (almost) impossible to rest in her faith, since, due to the autonomy has but the farmer’s son didn’t, she is faced with a never-ending string of opportunities. This makes it very difficult for her to be satisfied with any particular option. After all, it is very likely that, among all the opportunities out there, there is one that would be preferred to this one, if only she would find – or would have found – it. It is this observation that leaves her in a perpetual state of downgrading the options that are effectively available to her, and thereby her happiness. So even though the twenty-something of today has more autonomy than the farmer’s son of two generations ago, it does not follow that the twenty-something will be happier than the farmer’s son. In other words: more choices don’t necessarily imply more happiness.

Intuition
In the last section we stumbled upon a non-trivial observation. Namely: because of the vastness of opportunities the twenty-something faces and her limited rational capacities to oversee all of them, rationality alone is not sufficient for the twenty-something to choose the ‘best’ option. It is after all impossible to compare all options, hence to know if – and when – she found the best option.

But even though it appears impossible to choose the best option, one thing is for sure: she has to make a decision. Even the decision not to pursue a career is a choice, and should therefore be compared against other options. Since it is impossible to compare all occupations in terms of how well they score on all relevant criteria (loan, chance to develop yourself etc.), the twenty-something has to make use of some sort of ‘selection device’, that pre-selects a subset of the set of all occupations. This is required to allow her to compare each member of this smaller set to each other (based on how well they fare with regard to the relevant criteria). By doing this, she might be able to find a ‘local maximum’: that is, the best occupation given this limited set of occupations. That is all she can hope for given the rationally limited creature that she is.

Assuming that she doesn’t want to randomly pre-select some occupations, the twenty-something has to determine the criteria she finds most relevant for composing this pre-selection. However, this course of action might prove to be unsuccessful, due to the incomparability of criteria (money versus altruism, for example). But this problem might be circumvented.

The answer to picking the criteria must come from something ‘non-rational’ or ‘irrational’ – although I find the latter term misleading, as I will explain later. The non-rational element, on the basis of which the twenty-something might be able to execute her rational machinery, should make clear on a very basic whatever she finds valuable and what not: that is, it should provide her with her most basic wants. These basic wants must come from a place within the twenty-something that holds the instantiating power to all her actions. Let’s call this place the ‘unconscious mind’.

But the unconscious mind’s instantiating power comes at a cost: it is inaccessible to the conscious mind. And since rationality resides within the conscious mind, neither is it accessible to rational deliberation. Now, although the unconscious mind is not accessible, its ‘output’ is. Its output is what we call ‘intuition’, and manifests itself through those inexplicable feelings of something just ‘feeling right’ or ‘feeling wrong’. Although our intuition doesn’t come with any reason for why it is that something feels good or bad, it does something that is at least as important: it provides us with the values we need to choose what we want. 

Intuition in practice
Since intuition is non-rational, it cannot communicate through thoughts: it communicates solely through feelings. But how should the twenty-something go about interpreting these feelings? How does she know what feelings will lead her in the right direction, whatever this might be, and which in the wrong direction? The answer is simple: through trial and error.

There are various reasons why trial and error seems to be the best, if not the only, way for the twenty-something to go about finding the (locally) best occupation. As I explained before, the twenty-something isn’t born with a fixed set of desires; nor with a fixed set of capabilities. Throughout her life, she, for whatever reason, might decide on developing certain skills (e.g., playing piano or mathematics), and, parallel to these developments, she will develop a corresponding level of affinity with practicing these skills.

Next to developing affinity, or ‘preferences’, for practicing certain skills, the act of practicing skills also shows the twenty-something her relative ability in practicing these skills. For example: someone who, after comparing her skills, finds herself to be relatively good in a certain subject area (e.g., mathematics). Then, after having looked at her own capabilities, the twenty-something can decide to look at how her abilities compare to those of others. Based on this observation, she can find out in what field she could potentially make the greatest contribution to society. This is obviously beneficial to society, but just as much to the twenty-something herself, for it is because of the fact that she knows that she does what she is best at – either in terms of her own skills or compared to others – that any negative feelings, that might result from questioning the usage of her capacities, will be minimized.

Furthermore, a nice feature of the twenty-something looking for her relatively best skill is that she is guaranteed to find one. Even those who are negatively minded are at least sure to have a least bad capability.

This observation naturally leads us to the following conclusion: the twenty-something has to engage in all sorts of activities or occupations in order to obtain her preferences for them. Because she lacks any absolute sense of what she likes most, she cannot a priori (that is, before undertaking any action) know what skill, and hence what occupation, suits her best. Given this conceptual background, it might be that her feeling of don’t-knowing-what-to-do is in fact an indicator of the fact that the twenty-something has spent too much time looking for this non-existent absolute preference ranking (‘soul-searching’, as one might call it), and too little time actually developing such preferences.This also leads us to what might be a solution to the twenty-something’s apathy. Namely: by engaging in different activities or subject areas, and developing various skills, the twenty-something creates as well as experiences her preferences towards the respective subject areas or skills. Hence this is the first step away from apathy.

‘But’, the twenty-something might ask, ‘how do I know when to stop the trial-and-error process?’ One can look at this process from an economical point of view: the act of finding a satisfying occupation is nothing but a cost-benefit analysis. Given the inevitable diminishing marginal utility of any effort put into the trial-and-error process, surely a point will be reached at which the twenty-something’s hope of finding the best occupation and her satisfaction with her currently preferred option cancel out. It is at that point that the truly best occupation, in terms of maximizing utility, has been found.

The rationality of being non-rational
We have established that rationality alone is not sufficient for the twenty-something to choose a satisfying occupation. In order to find such an occupation, a ‘non-rational’ component must be introduced: the unconscious mind. But somehow we seem to have difficulties with our choices being (at least partially) determined by a non-rational element.

It might very well be that, in this 21th world we’re living in, rationality is put on a pedestal, and everything non-rational is considered a source of errors, leading us astray from our objectives. We are taught to ignore our intuitions wherever possible; at least when there are ‘rational’ arguments at hand. This might be due to the fact that non-rational factors are beyond our control, thereby making us to some extent a slave to our feelings, thus decreasing our perceived autonomy. But you could ask yourself the question: what is the value of being in control if your ‘controlled’ life doesn’t cohere with your intuitions? What if letting go of control is required in order to explore the full range of opportunities, thereby unlocking the door behind which the realm of unexplored potential resides?

If any, the message of this article is that value cannot be rationally constructed. The ways through which we might achieve what we value can be rationally constructed, but the value itself comes from a domain that is distinct from any rational – or even conscious – part of ourselves. Although this might be difficult to accept for any person taught to think carefully about any choice in life, it is a prerequisite for embarking on the rational process: first you have to accept what you value in order to try and set out a path to reach that which you value.

So one could say that being non-rational, to a certain extent at least, is a prerequisite for being rational. If you don’t allow yourself to act on non-rational impulses, you have no basis on which to cast the rational power, thereby excluding the possibility of doing that which you might value. And isn’t that what we all want to do? To do what we value? If so, we might as well embrace the non-rational, or even stronger: claim that it is rational to be irrational. 

Love
In this last section I want to focus at another potential source of uncertainty for any twenty-something: love. Being in-between the period of life in which love was yet unable to be experienced, and the part in life in which love is deemed to be a relic of the past (or ‘has changed into mutual compassion’), there is this period in which the twenty-something is likely to feel the need to find a future life partner.

But what is love? What characteristics does the twenty-something’s future partner need to have? Are the negative aspects of the relationship she is currently in likely to fade away over time? Or are they are structural component of the chemistry she is (not) having with her current partner? And how to distinguish between the two? If she would end the relationship now, would it leave her forever with a feeling of deep regret for having let this opportunity pass by? Or will it – in retrospect – proof to be a milestone on her way to finding that perfect partner with whom she will spend the rest of her life?

These are questions that any twenty-something is likely to ask herself at a certain point in time. It seems to be the case that most people get married around the age of 30, often being the culmination of a relationship that has been underway for at least a couple of years. A quick calculation shows that, assuming the latter to be true, the twenty-something should meet her life partner not much later than the age of 25. And the more this age approaches, the stronger becomes the twenty-something’s doubt about the status of her current relationship, or, if she doesn’t currently have a partner, the stronger gets the urge to find a potential life partner.

However, the great problem with any romantic relationship is that only in retrospect can be determined whether it has been a good decision to continue the relationship. It might be the case that, at this point in time, the twenty-something and her partner experience struggles that will grow larger and larger as time goes by. But the question of whether these struggles are merely obstacles to overcome on the road to living happily ever after, or that they are symptoms of a profound mismatch between the two, is impossible to answer up front. Here too it seems that only intuition can guide the way, since the experiences that could provide the twenty-something with the relevant information lie in the future, and are thus (for now; the moment we’re always living in) beyond her experience.

The Dysfunctional Nature of the Internet

The internet is an outdated medium, but still the most modern one we’ve got. It’s a medium supporting the big ones, the ones with money, and preventing the new and little ones from reaching the top. Popularity is valued over relevancy. Fame over creativity. On Google, 58.4% of all the clicks from users go the first three links, the links considered most appropriate by Google. This percentage decreases dramatically when you leave the top three. Number 11 – that is, the site on the top of the second page – receives merely 2.6% of the clicks. Also, links are still the number one factor in the rankings of search engines like Google, MSN and Yahoo!. And an important factor in the valuation of these links is their trustworthiness, with trustworthiness being a notion that is vague, utterly subjective and based on criteria not necessarily enhancing the quality of the information provided.

Each of these factors hinder new, creative and recalcitrant bloggers from receiving the popularity that they – based on the quality of their content – might deserve. The internet, which in fact is Google and some other search engines, is Marxian in a dysfunctional manner. Power structures determine what information does and what information doesn’t reach the “consumer”, the client sitting behind his computer. It’s only when you’re in the bourgeoisie, when you belong the “big guys”, that you will get noticed. If you’re nothing more than a member of the proletariat, you can yell all you want but the power structures will push you down.

But why would this be a problem? And would it even be a problem? Well, it not has to be. It merely indicates that the internet is dominated by a few big corporations and that you, as a blogger, are painfully dependent upon the support of these few big guys. And even this wouldn’t necessarily have to be a problem. Not if these big guys would base their rankings on factors that we – “the consumers” – find most important. We just want to read the information that bests suit our “information needs”. We don’t care whether this information is written by a fat guy or a big shot working at an esteemed newspaper. We just want our wishes to be fulfilled as accurately as possible.

But the truth of the matter is that the internet, as it exists in this 21st century of ours, can’t live up to these requirements. And the reason for this is pretty simple: the internet can’t read our minds. The internet doesn’t know what we are looking for when we type in, “Gay marriage from a Hobbesian perspective”, in Google. The internet merely recognizes the words “Gay marriage” and “Hobbes”. An although Google might come up with articles talking about gay marriage and about Hobbes, it forgets one big thing: the sentiment I’m looking for. I want the internet to provide me with information that suits my feelings, that absolutely fits my deepest – and sometimes even inexpressible – desires. It is merely cold words that the internet is founded upon. Cold words stringed together by links. We cannot blame Google or any other search engine for this. It’s just the way our 21st century technology works. This is the closest we can currently get in satisfying our needs.

I want to pick your brain for a second, and travel with you to the year 2060. In 2060 the internet will be different. It will not be based on written words anymore. It will not depend on how these words match Google’s database anymore. No, in 2060 we can by merely thinking and feeling about what we’re looking for urge Google to find the information that exactly matches our sentiment. Our brain waves will be matched to the “brain wave DNA” of the information that can be found on the internet. No need for links anymore. No domination of the “big few” anymore. Only the pure relevance of information will be judged. This will be an environment for beginning bloggers to thrive in. Released from the “status disadvantage” they currently have. Only the value of one’s content can and will be judged.

But what do you think?

Beliefs, Desires and Coming Up with Reasons

A normal logical inference looks something like the following: (1) C leads to A, (2) C leads to B, (3) A and B are present, so (4) C might be true. In other words, you have got reasons – (1), (2) and (3) – for believing something, and these reasons make you think that something else – (4) – might be true. This is an example of an inference to the best explanation. But do we always act so rationally? Do we always come up with reasons before we come up with the conclusion that is supposed to follow from the reasons? Or do we – sometimes – come up with the conclusions first and then start searching reasons for validating these conclusions? Like, when we really want to buy that television and then start reasoning why it would be good for us to have that television? Let’s take a look at that.

There’s a difference between having beliefs that are based upon reasons (like ‘I see rain dropping of the window’ + ‘I see people wearing trench coats’ so ‘It must be raining outside.’) and longings or desires (like ‘I want a television. Period.) Where we need reasons to believe the beliefs, the desires are just there. What we can see here is a difference in the chronological order for coming up with reasons for a belief or desire: in case of beliefs we come up with reasons before getting at the belief, and with desires we have desires s and then start coming up with reasons for why we should give into that desire.

But there is another difference – beside the difference in order – between ‘belief reasoning’ and ‘desire reasoning’. The belief reasoning eventually leads up to an idea, while the desire reasoning eventually ends up with an action (or not). The rational component – that is, the Ego – that has do deal with all the inputs or impulses entering our conscious and unconscious mind, is called for in different stages of the reasoning trajectory. Where the Ego is apparent in first stage of the belief reasoning – the part in which we’re thinking whether or not we consider a belief to be true – it becomes apparent in the desire reasoning only after the belief has settled.

So what? Is this a problem? Well, not necessarily: not if the two types of reasoning stay completely separated. Not for as long as beliefs are preceded by reasons, and not for as long as desires are – or are not – acted upon based upon reasons. It only becomes dangerous when the two become intertwined: especially when we just happen to believe something and then start coming up with reasons for why it is that we just happen to believe this something. Since unlike desires, beliefs aren’t something you just have. Beliefs are there solely because you’ve got reasons for them. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be beliefs, but merely desires.

So, what we can conclude from this? Well, a conclusion could be that you should watch out for those people that – in a discussion, for example – just seem to believe something and then start coming up with reasons for why it is that they just happen to believe this something. Since, if these people are confusing the notions of belief and desire, it can be very difficult – or even impossible – for you to change their (unreasonable) beliefs. After all, desires are just there, which is reason enough for having them, while beliefs require reasons. And if this isn’t realized, the discussion might get stuck at the level of implementation: the level at which is being decided how the belief should be implemented – that is: validated by society – instead of reasoning whether or not the belief is reasonable in the first place. And we don’t want that to happen, or that’s at least what I believe.

But what do you think?

If You Ask a Question, You Should Expect an Answer

‘Well, If you didn’t want an answer, then you shouldn’t have asked me a question.’ That’s what I often think when people ask me about my point of view on a particular topic, and – subsequently – respond by looking disgusted and saying something along the lines of: ‘No, that is never going to work’, or ‘How can you ever think that?’

Every scientific discipline is divided in two groups of people: those who are prepared to utter original ideas and those that seem capable only of smashing down these ideas. This ‘force field’ between the forces of creativity and destruction is most prominent in philosophy, and then in particular in what I call ‘definition battles’. With the term ‘definition battle’ I mean philosophical discussions about – as you might expect – the definition of a term. ‘What is life?’ could be a question triggering a definition battle. But also questions such as ‘What is pleasure?’ or ‘What is altruism?’ are likely to lead to a definition battle. Let’s focus ourselves at the example of ‘What is life?’

I remember a philosophy teacher of mine asking the class what we believed to be ‘life’ is. With no-one seeming to make the effort to answer his question, I decided to give it a go. I came up with my interpretation – or definition – of life as ‘a natural process that has an end and a beginning and that is capable of keeping itself functioning solely by means of metabolic processes.’ You might find this definition inaccurate, but I hope that you can at least agree with me on the fact that it is a definition; a definite statement based upon which one can distinguish living from non-living entities.

After having given this definition of life, other students looked at me in disbelief, as if they saw fire burning. And then one of them asked: ‘But, according to your definition of life, a comatose patient wouldn’t be alive. After all, a comatose patient isn’t ‘alive’ solely by means of his metabolic processes; it’s is being kept ‘alive’ by means of external interventions (medical machinery etc.).’

I replied by saying: ‘Yes, I indeed believe that a comatose patient is not alive anymore.’ Then hell broke loose and students kept on saying that my point of view was wrong. Note: saying that my point of view was wrong; not saying why my point of view was wrong. Because how could they ever say that my point of view was wrong? It was, after all, my point of view, right? It was my definition for which had – and gave – reasons.

I believe this case is exemplary for the manner in which people interact with each other: people ask each other about each others point of view, but whenever people really give their point of view, it gets – no matter what the point of view might be – shot down. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a problem; not if the opponents of the point of view have good – or at least any – arguments against the point of view. But what often seems to be the case is that the ones who criticize others don’t dare or unable to take a stance for themselves. Hence, whenever such an instance occurs, I always ask to myself: how can you criticize others, if you don’t know – or you don’t even dare to express – your own position? Based on what view of the world are you criticizing the position of others – in this case myself? And if you don’t even have a view on the world, how then can you say my views are wrong? Wrong based on what? Teach me. Please. How can I make my beliefs more reasonable?

I say that we should dare to make choices, even when it comes down to such delicate questions as ‘What is life?’ For if you ask a question, you should expect a definite answer. Because if you don’t expect to reach a definite answer, no matter how counter-intuitive this answer might be, you will inevitably get lost in an everlasting and non-value adding discussion. And worst of all: if you aren’t prepared to listen to any (definite) answer a person gives you, then you aren’t taking this person seriously. You ears are open but your mind is not. And lastly, as I mentioned before, you simply cannot judge others without occupying a position for yourself. So you need to have some sort of reasonably firm position in order to be able to criticize others. So please…share your position with us.

But what do you think?

Quantity versus Quality: Which One to Choose?

Quantity versus quality; an everlasting trade-off. The “system” in which this tradeoff is most prevalent is our economic system. You are more or less forced to specialize yourself because no-one wants a mediocre plumber who also happens to be a mediocre tennis coach, blogger and husband. No; we want the best plumber; the best tennis coach and the best blogger. But what if you want to do it all? What if you want to be a plumber, tennis coach etc…..What then? Then you have to make a decision; you want to do it all “a little” or you want to do one thing “good”. But is this a fair dichotomy? Is it really true that when you are engaged in more than one hobby, profession or relationship, you cannot be good in a particular “instance” of these “categories”? Can’t there be a sense of complementarity? A sense of “1 + 1 = 3”? Maybe…let’s take a look at why this could be the case.

What if being a plumber, philosopher and husband would make you better in each one of these “fields”; that is, better in each one of these fields than you would be if you wouldn’t be involved in these three activities “at the same time”? Could that be so? Well, for the philosopher and husband it might be rather easy to see the “benefits” of also being a plumber: it will make you more social, it will give you an idea of “how a day in the life of an ordinary man” would look like and it could make you more respectful towards others fulfilling likewise jobs. But what about the plumber? Would he be better of by being a philosopher as well? Well that “depends” – although I hate this word – on how you define “plumber”. Is “plumber” merely the profession of the man, or is the “plumber” the man itself? If it were the latter, it should be clear why the plumber would benefit from studying philosophy: it would (very likely) make him a more “reasonable” person; more respectful towards the ideas of others. But regarding the former; would he also become better at doing his plumbing job? Well, it doesn’t make him any worse at doing it, right? But that’s not a fair response. However, the real question should be: would he have become a better plumber by “more plumbing” or instead of reading Plato? Well, maybe at first he will be “better off” plumbing more; that is, until the “marginal utility” in “plumbing more” would become less than the “marginal utility” of reading philosophy; which is something that – given “the law of diminishing marginal utility” – will inevitably happen.

But this example of “the plumber” can also be applied to other matters in life; after all, it doesn’t make sense to keep on focusing on one specific area if there are still so many other areas to discover while knowing that gaining in these other areas is easier – see the “learning curve” – than gaining in only one area. Thus, in order to become a person with a high “overall utility” – which is the utility indicating “how good of a person you are” – you have to expand your “intellectual” – and other – horizons.

The “fun” thing is that this logic of “learning curves” and “diminishing marginal utilities” can be applied to pretty much every activity in life. An example? Well, I could have decided – as I did when I started this blog – to write one “very decent” article per day. However, I felt I could contribute more “utility” by “tapping into my creative source” and just let it flow out of me, like diarrhea from a sick person. And if that means that the articles would become a little shorter; who cares?

So; quantity or quality? Which one to pick?

Mutual Ignorance and the Face of Awkwardness

‘Wait, I know that girl! I’ve got her on Facebook…I guess. Yes I do. But…. does she know me? Of course she does, she was the one adding me, not the other way around. But did she see me? No, she couldn’t. I’m standing here for only ten seconds or so. Hhm…what to do here? Shall I talk to her or not? Difficult, difficult. I know it! Let’s pretend that I didn’t see her and hopefully she will do the same. That would be awesome! Because then we could just go on with our lives and forget that this moment ever happened.’

I had a conversation with a couple of friends of mine in which we talked about the phenomenon called ‘mutual ignorance’. This phenomenon comes down to the following: you are standing somewhere, waiting for whatever to come (a train for example), while all of a sudden you see someone ‘you might have met once at a party or so’. Then the question that immediately comes to mind is: are you going to say hello? The conclusion we reached was the following: if you have had eye-contact with the person, there’s no way back. Then you have to engage in a conversation with the person. Otherwise it would be awkward. But what if you don’t want to engage in a conversation? What if you are feeling insecure about talking to the person? It will never go as smoothly as that time when you had a couple of drinks before talking to her. Or maybe you will tell yourself that you should really start studying in the train, so starting a conversation right now would be counter-productive. After all: a conversation cannot last a couple of minutes only, can it…?

But then, suddenly, you are hit by a striking observation: you are not the only party involved in this ‘strategic game’. What is the other person thinking? Is she a ‘normal’ person? If she is, she is likely to think the same as you: hence you can avoid each other. If not, she might feel bad about not having talked to you, and she will haunt you with this opportunity at a later point in time – at a club, for example.

It’s an instance of the famous Prisoner’s Dilemma: both of you are better off not talking to each other, but the outcome of the game depends on the action of the other person. But there’s a third player taking part in the game: mister awkwardness. He is sitting on the site laughing at you. He knows his time will come. The presence of mister awkwardness is inexplicable but oh so present. And he is nasty guy. Think about it: what was your most recent awkward experience? Did you fart in front of the professor entering the elevator? Well that’s awkward! But that’s nothing compared to watching porno and having your mum enter you room. On the awkwardness-scale, that’s definitely a 9.2.

So let’s make a deal people: let’s ignore each other, at all times. Let’s make sure that we never have to be on guard anymore; never taking out our binoculars in order to spot an approaching enemy anymore. Wouldn’t that be great?

You know what? Let’s just do it! “Mutual ignorance”, here we come.

But what do you think?

Euthanasia and the Right to Voluntarily End your Life

Ladies and gentlemen. Because of a collision with a person, the trains to Amsterdam will not run for the next three hours. We thank you for your patience and hope to solve this issue as quickly as possible.

Fuck, another person jumped in front of a train. That wasn’t very nice of him, was it? Making an end to his life by traumatizing an innocent conductor and delaying hundreds of people who do want to live their lives. Why did he chose this option? Why not jump of a bridge, take a few too many pills or buy a shotgun from the nearest creep in town?

This train ‘accident’ – which is by no means a sporadic event – seems a good opportunity to open the debate about voluntary life ending, and in particular about legalization of euthanasia. In many countries – except for the USA, in which it is illegal in all states – euthanasia is reserved only for people who ‘are incurable, or suffer without having any chance of improvement’. Only then, the doctor can drop by and make an end to it. And even then, even when someone is terminally ill and sees no reason to prolong his life, it is often very difficult to be allowed to end your life in a ‘decent’ manner – by means of euthanasia, that is. But why is that? And – to take it one step further – why is euthanasia only reserved for terminally ill people? Let’s take a look at that.

If you don’t like going to the cinema, you don’t go, right? You aren’t forced to go. The same goes for a football game or a birthday party. If you don’t want go, that’s fine: you don’t have to go. When applied to the act of giving birth, the same choice, although to a lesser extent, is available: for what if you don’t want to produce offspring? That’s fine: use a condom. And if something went wrong during the protection process? You still have the possibility, in many countries, to abort the fetus. Giving life is an option; and so it should be, right? For why would the government – or any person or institution for that matter – have the right to decide that you should or shouldn’t give life? We aren’t sheep, right? We aren’t living in a totalitarian regime, are we?

Well, maybe we are. Because although we are mostly free to do what we want, if the government doesn’t like what we decide in this ‘freedom’ of ours, it can – and will – try to stop it: ‘Smoking? No, that’s bad for you. Let’s try to stop it. ‘Fast-food? Think about your cholesterol! Let’s tax it (just to help you! Always remember that!).’ And so it is with dying: ‘Dying? No, that’s bad for you! You shouldn’t die?! You should stay alive and be happy! Let’s make ‘voluntarily dying, in a decent manner, illegal.’

Surely: we should set some rules to make sure that we live peacefully together and don’t smash each other’s brains out. Or, to put it less dramatically, to make sure that people don’t exploit others generosity – like smokers’ exploiting non-smokers’ health expenditures. But to decide who should stay alive is something of a different order, isn’t it? It touches upon the most fundamental rights we people are born with: the right to live and its counterpart, the right to die.

But apparently, the government has a veto to decide who dies and who doesn’t. As long as it can make money out of people dying – as in a war – death promotes ‘a world free of suppression.’ But when death enters home territory, and the wish of suffering citizens, the choice to die voluntarily is no option. Weird, isn’t it?

But what do you think?

What is the Value of Beauty?

Beauty is ‘a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction.’ Okay: now we know the definition of ‘beauty’; but what exactly is beauty? Let’s zoom in on the human part of beauty: why are some persons more beautiful than others? Why do men become ‘happy’ when they see Kate Upton, but not as much when they see Queen Beatrix (the former queen of The Netherlands)?

Studies have shown that when we recognize someone’s face as beautiful we are actually making a judgement about the health and vitality of that individual. We interpret facial symmetry (the similarity of the left and right half of a face) and a smooth skin to mean that a person has good genes and is – or has been – free from diseases. But what exactly we find beautiful differs per sex. For example: women attach less value to the looks of their partner than men do. But that begs the question: why do men attach so much value to the looks of a woman? And aren’t we men – by chasing the pretty girls – nothing more than simple puppets of our evolutionary determined instincts?

If you think about it, beauty is – next to its evolutionary function – a totally useless characteristic. The only way in which a woman’s beauty can be of value is in the seduction of ‘primitive’ – or at least superficial – men. Well, that’s not completely true; beauty is not totally irrelevant. For example: if a man sees a woman – of if a women sees a man – that is very fat, it might be a good idea to stay away from this person. You don’t want to waste your food – or your fertility – on that one, do you? And being so fat might not be very healthy. And we don’t want an ill partner, do we? But now we are back again at beauty’s evolutionary value

Beauty might be the single most overrated characteristic a person can have – next to cynicism, which is the most easy characteristic to have. Beauty is either present or it is not: you’ve either got it, or you don’t. Just like you can be tall or short, black or white, handicapped or ‘okay’, you can be beautiful or less beautiful (ugly). But even though it is fully determined by nature, we men still go crazy when we see a beautiful woman. A woman’s beauty alone can be sufficient reason for men to chase her. A phrase often heard is: ‘She’s stupid? So what? She’s beautiful, right?’ But the real question is: who in this example is really the stupid one? The one being chased, or the one chasing? If you value someone for her looks, aren’t you just better of taking a picture and hanging it above your bed? Not only will a picture last longer, but the beauty depicted on the picture will last longer too: beauty, after all, has the tendency to stay only until gravity shows it face. Intelligence, wisdom en experience, on the other hand, come with age.

So: what to do? Should we listen to our primal instincts and perceive beauty as it is dictated to us by nature? Or shall we take control of whoever we find beautiful? Are our bodies leading the way; the happy feelings we get when we see someone beautiful? Or do we listen to our minds telling us that an asymmetrical face doesn’t imply Down syndrome? The ever recurring philosophical dichotomy returns: the battle between the body and mind, between determinism and control.

Who do you think is going to win?

Antinatalism and the Right to be Thrown Into this World

A fair trade is always based on a sense of mutual consent: you want something + I want something = let’s trade. That’s fair, right? The participants can deliberately weigh the pro’s and con’s of the trade and decide – based upon this information – whether to take part in the exchange or not. That’s a choice: the choice between doing and not doing something.

How different is it for the ‘choice‘ to be born? Well, there isn’t really much of a choice there, is there? No-one has asked you: ‘Hey Peter. You want to be born?’ You don’t have this choice; you don’t have a right to decide for yourself if you want to be thrown onto this earth. No-one has asked you whether you want to experience the suffering – and the joy – that you do. No-one. You are born. Period.

There is a philosophical position called ‘antinatalism‘ that assigns a negative value to birth. This makes it different from all the ‘christian’ doctrines that praise birth to be a miraculous phenomenon; a true gift from above. There are different arguments in favor of antinatalism. One – put forward by Schopenhauer – is that live is always filled with more pain than pleasure; therefore a living person would have always been better of if he wouldn’t have been born at all. After all, Schopenhauer claims,

A quick test of the assertion that enjoyment outweighs pain in this world, or that they are at any rate balanced, would be to compare the feelings of an animal engaged in eating another with those of the animal being eaten.

Other arguments for antinatalism point to the lack of autonomy or freedom of choice involved in the ‘decision’ to be born. See it as a trade in which, no matter what your preferences might be, the deal will always take place. Peter Wessel Zapffe – a Norwegian philosopher – said about this,

In accordance with my conception of life, I have chosen not to bring children into the world. A coin is examined, and only after careful deliberation, given to a beggar, whereas a child is flung out into the cosmic brutality without hesitation.

This decision – the choice whether or not to bring children into the world – is of course a choice you have to make for yourself: do you find it okay to throw a person into this world without ever knowing – or being able to know – whether or not this person wants to be thrown into this world? It you do, you are likely to be a natalist: someone who puts a positive value on human reproduction. And if most people on this world would be natalists, there are some problems we will inevitably run into. And these problems are getting closer and closer.

I am talking of course about the ever increasing world population. In 2011 the 7th billion person was added to our world’s population. It is expected that in 2050 this number will have increased to 11 billion and – given that the fertility rate keeps constant (an average of 2.5 children per women) – the 27 (!) billion will be reached in 2100. It seems save to say that these numbers are going to pose some problems. Events like a Malthusian catastrophe – a situation in which the increase in food production can’t keep up with the increase in the world population – might happen if we don’t do something. Darwin and his survival of the fittest-doctrine seem – if we continue like this – to become ever more apparent in this world of ours.

But let’s keep the ‘logistical’ problems aside, and focus ourselves solely on the (philosophical) issues attached to (anti)natalism. All these issues culminate into one question: is it okay for anyone to throw creatures like him- or herself into the world, without having their approval? Whenever we engage in other kinds of decisions – like the trading of collector cards – we firmly believe that mutual consent is a prerequisite for ethical conduct. So why don’t we apply this same principle to child birth? Surely: we might want children; we might want to reproduce ourselves because we find children cute or we find that this is the most reasonable thing to do. But what about the children’s self-determination? Shouldn’t we pay any attention to that? Or are we just so self-centered and so egocentric that we don’t even care about throwing other people into a world without even knowing – or caring – whether this is what they would have wanted to happen? It’s obviously impossible to ask children whether they would like to be born before them being born, but why would we – based upon that knowledge – decide to do – instead of not to do – it?

What do you think?

The Coercive Power of Money

The Webster’s New Collegiate dictionary defines ‘to coerce‘ as ‘to compel to an act or choice’, or ‘to restrain or dominate by nullifying individual will’. We all have some kind of idea of what it means to coerce someone: to force someone into doing something they don’t necessarily want. When I hold a shotgun to your head, and tell you that you should give me your iPhone, that could very well be interpreted as an act of coercion. But there are also more subtle acts of coercion. If you told me a secret, and we would get into a fight, I could force you into doing something by threatening to make pubic your secret. But there are even more subtle acts of coercion. Acts that all of us experience on a daily basis. And the leading actor in this play is omnipotent and all-known: it is Mister Money himself.

Where does voluntary engaging in a deal stop and coercion start? When you offer me 300 dollars for me to repair your car, I could voluntarily decide whether or not to accept your offer. I might feel forced to do so, since I am short on money, but I am still able to compare the pro’s and con’s of your offer and come to a rather autonomous decision. It becomes a different story when I am an employee of a car repairing firm where you turn to for getting your car fixed. In that case I have no vote in deciding whether to accept your offer. That’s the boss’ decision: I just have to do as he says. But you could still claim that I voluntarily decided to go work for the company, so in that sense my ‘forced decision’ to repair your car would still be voluntary. Note that you could doubt these two examples of ‘voluntary’ action by claiming that, although in theory I might have decided whether to take the job or not, in practice I was more or less obliged to do so. I might have needed the money in order to stay alive, which could have forced me into accepting the job. But Iet’s not focus on that.

Because I want to provide you with a different case, and that is the following: imagine that a big construction company decides to build an apartment block next to where you live. Now I ask you: how much of a choice do you have in accepting this deal? Not much, right? Even though you aren’t offered any money, or anything for that matter, you are still supposed to accept the company’s plans. You have no authority at all. Your ‘individual will is nullified’ by the domination of the construction company. Thus it seems that money can force you into accepting an offer. That is, when parties engage in a deal, even though this deal might be executed voluntarily by the offering and accepting party, the will of other parties is rendered irrelevant. It’s nullified. And although this might not be a big issue if the deal is relatively small (like your neighbor buying a new car), the consequences can be much more severe when the parties involved are big and powerful (like the construction company and the government).

So it seems that money truly is power: coercive power.

But what do you think?

The Purpose of Life is to Look for a Purpose

Bam! You are born. What now? What are you going to do? Well, for the first couple of years, it is pretty clear what you will do: you will listen to your parents, go to school, play with your friends, and do all those other things ‘children just happen to do’. You don’t even think about what might be the purpose behind all of it. The only purpose you think about is training your Pokémons to level 100 and ruling the Pokémon League.

After this period, you start attending high school, in which you are forced to deal with all the insecurities that arise: what do I have to do to be popular? What do the cool guys do? How can I be more like that great – but not so nice – guy in my soccer team? But you’ve still got the child-like purposes driving you forward; purposes that make you know what you have to do.

Then you start attending university. The first two years or so are as usual. You get your points, work on your social life and do all sorts of stuff you like. Until suddenly disaster strikes: you don’t know it anymore. You start reflecting upon your life and ask yourself: what the fuck am I doing? Is this who I am? Is this truly what I want to do for the rest of my life, just becoming another brick in the wall? And it is at this point that your life really starts.

Living someone else’s life is easy. You just follow the rules and you will get by. You might not even be consciously aware of the rules, like when you were a kid. You just live your life, not even thinking about what it is that you’re doing. But at some point in your life, whether it is in your ‘mid-life crisis’ or in your twenties, you become aware of the rat-race you’re a part of. You become aware of the goals that society has imprinted on you: ‘Get a good job,’ ‘Get married’ and ‘Think about the career possibilities’. And you are slowly but steadily approaching the point of destruction; you’re slowing reaching the why-phase.

When you’ve reached the why-phase, all social conditioning you have been put through in your life will be reconsidered: ‘Why do I need to get a “good” job?,’ ‘Why do I need to get married?’ and ‘Why do I have to think about my career possibilities?’. And while the why-phase you had as a child was innocent and happened without you even being aware of it (‘Daddy, why do we celebrate Christmas?’), this why-phase you’re involved in happens fully consciously. Maybe even a little too consciously.

Everyone experiences this (in fact second) why-phase in life. However, the point at which it kicks in is likely to differ from person to person. You might know those 50-somethings that get divorced, move to France and start a Bed and Breakfast? That’s their why-phase. Or do you know students that quit their study after a year or two? That’s the why-phase as well. But it is not only the way you live your life that gets reconsidered – and revised – in the why-phase, it is the entire notion of life itself. What is life? Or more importantly: what is my life?

When you start asking these existential questions, you encounter a whole range of different answers, each one being just as much – or even more – dissatisfying as the one before. You keep coming up with answers that have been imprinted in your head, the indoctrination as I mentioned before. But when you start asking yourself why it is that none of these answers satisfies you, you stumble upon an eye-opening but scary conclusion: maybe your life doesn’t have a purpose.

That is: maybe there is no purpose in life besides the one you’ve created for yourself. Maybe there is no inherent meaning of life, or goal you should strive for in order to be able to live happily ever after. But then – suddenly – the answer shows its face: if I want to live happily ever after, I better create a purpose for myself. And if I don’t, I will be dead soon enough anyway.

You’ll always have to create a purpose in your life, no matter how mundane this might be. Although there might not be an inherent purpose of – or meaning in – life, there is always an underlying drive present in your life, and that is the drive forcing you to create a purpose in life. That is not to say that there is one static purpose you should live your entire life according to. No, your purpose might be changing. But still, there must always be a purpose, and its yours to find out. That’s the one and only true purpose of life.

But what do you think?