What Is the Purpose of Life

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Life without purpose is life without meaning. For Codists, the purpose of life is intrinsically tied to the welfare of our families and our communities. The purpose of life sits at the core of everything we talk about. It is the lodestar of our morality, the ultimate checksum of our actions and the prism by which we see the world around us. But what is the purpose of life?

The purpose of life is, in essence, that universal impetus common to all lifeforms, the instinct to survive and procreate. We conceptualise this universal striving for existence as that of a single will. ‘Life universal’, striving for continued existence. As we descend from the universal to the perspective of each species, and finally, to that of the individual being, we discover that this impetus remains the same and yet is achieved in unique ways by each species and individual being (see The Code: Chapter 5).

The purpose of life must not be mistaken for the meaning of life as the two concepts are vastly different. The meaning of life is the question of why life exists, while the purpose of life is the question of how we should live or to what purpose we should strive for.

The purpose of life is inextricably tied to the continuation of life. Why this is, is clear if we consider the nature of life. Life fundamentally connotates agency or the ability of a being to act independently of external impetuses (see The Code: Chapter 3). Therefore, any purpose that relates to life has as a predicate the attribute of life, i.e., for life to have a purpose, life must exist. This necessity for life to continue is expressed in the universal striving for life observed in all beings.

Life at the universal seeks for life generally to continue to exist being uninterested in its particular manifestation. Its focus is on life as a totality, not on the survival of a single species or individual being. Just so, each species seeks for the continuation of life as represented by itself being uninterested in the survival of the individual beings, which constitute the species. Similarly, each being seeks for its own survival and the continuation of life in its own image.

Of course, it is only at the individual level that choices are really made. Yet as each being guided by the common purpose of all life seeks after its own continuance, they inadvertently serve the purpose of their species and of life itself. The continuation of life, be it at the universal, species or individual level, is only possible through reproduction due to the fundamental impermanence of all life. Therefore, each species and individual seeking after their own and their species’ survival seeks the optimum means of achieving this purpose. For some beings, this takes the form of producing huge numbers of young in the hope that some will survive. Others produce only a small number of offspring and invest significant time and resources in promoting their survival.

Humans produce only very small numbers of young, promoting their survival as do other low volume reproducers, through the long-term care and protection of each of our children (see The Code: Chapter 9). This is where the purpose of life as it relates to us becomes clearer. Unlike with fish who spawn their young in the millions each year, we humans produce (generally speaking) between 1-6 children in our eighty-plus year lifespans. Our young are born particularly weak and require almost two decades of care before they can hope to survive on their own. As such, for us, it is not enough simply to reproduce. If we desire to achieve our purpose in life, we must actively ensure the welfare and survival of our children and families over our entire lifetimes.

Fortunately, for the most part, this the most arduous requirement, for the achievement of the purpose of life is simply an outcome of the natural mode of human life. We parents develop a natural impulse to protect our young, even at the cost of our own lives. We instinctively put their needs first and naturally focus on their future welfare over all other concerns. This unconscious drive to achieve the purpose of life even continues to the formation of families and communities.

If we consider the survival and welfare of our children and families as the ultimate goal of life, then we will discover that the traditional formations of family and community are almost ideally adapted to this role. With an ideal (birth) family being the union of two separate families (see The Code: Chapter 11) all supporting the survival and welfare of the children. In the same way, an ideal community continues the work of the family in a lesser way, providing physical protection, access to resources and reciprocal support (see The Code: Chapter 13).

Therefore, to find the optimum path to the achievement of the purpose of life requires only that we do what comes naturally to us. Focusing on the welfare of our families and guiding the laudable natural impulses with reason and wisdom. Conforming our actions to those which promote the welfare of our families and at least do not harm our communities (see The Code: Chapter 19). And finally, developing our character and wisdom by following the path of wisdom and practicing the virtues. If we do these fundamentally simple (though not easy) things, then we will discover that those things we desire most—happiness, contentment, and peace—will be our reward.

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