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The Meaning of Life – Have You Tried Googling It?

By Thinkibility

In our introducing post Meaning - 21st Century Challenges we invited you to do some digesting and preliminary thinking on the topics below:

" How do you live in an age of bewilderment, when the old stories have collapsed, and no new story has yet emerged to replace them?" What will keep us busy when our jobs become obsolete? A new quest for meaning is required. In the future, virtual worlds may take over and socially-constructed systems of meaning could lose their meaning.

The aim of this series of posts is to sketch possible thinking steps that might help us to get a solution or at least a direction for one of today's urgent issues as identified by Yuval Noah Harari in the book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century (see the blog post Will our inventions make us irrelevant?).

This week we will post two questions regarding the future meaning of life, each with a suggestion for using a thinking tool.

We have clustered the starting question into three entry-points:

  1. As an individual quest;
  2. As an influence from the physical environment;
  3. As a belief system or ideology.

As an individual quest

The search for meaning is often described as an individual quest. If you were totally independent or not be influenced by ideologies and technology, what is your meaning of life?

Starting questions might be:

The Meaning of Life – Have You Tried Googling It?
  • Who am I?
  • What should I do in life?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Who determines what is a meaningful life?

As an influence from the physical environment

New technologies, scientific discoveries and changes to our environment may change our values.

The Meaning of Life – Have You Tried Googling It?
  • In what ways will advances in technology change meaning of future life? For instance, how will robots change our daily life and affect our ideas about the meaning of life?
  • If immortality might be possible, how will it change our meaning of life?

As a belief system or ideology

The Meaning of Life – Have You Tried Googling It?

The meaning of life as we perceive it is often derived from philosophical, religious and scientific inquiries about happiness, existence, consciousness and social ties.

  • Why did so many people followed enthusiastically but blindly the main 20st century ideologies. What has been so attractive in them?
  • What types of ideologies will emerge in the future?

How to Proceed?

The Meaning of Life – Have You Tried Googling It?

We will begin with explore the meaning of life as primarily derived from a belief system or ideology. This has the advantage that from the beginning of our thinking we place the whole discussion in a broader context than as an individually, independent choice, what it is not at all, at least in our preliminary opinion.

Thinking Task 1

Focus: Why did so many people follow enthusiastically but blindly the main 20st century ideologies? What has been so attractive in them?

Choose a belief system or an ideology. For example:

The Meaning of Life – Have You Tried Googling It?
  • the attractive aspects (2 minutes at least, but also at maximum)
  • the "ugly" aspects (2 minutes)
  • what is neither attractive nor ugly, but interesting, especially regarding the future? ( 2 minutes)

Thinking Task 2

Focus: What types of ideologies will emerge in the future?

The Meaning of Life – Have You Tried Googling It?

Do an APC. APC stands for lternatives,ossibilities and hoices. Identify or design at least 7 new ideologies or belief systems that might emerge in the 21st century as a result of the merging of revolutions in bio- and information technology.

Meaningful thinking!


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