What is the purpose of life? Is it the search for happiness as Aristotle philosophized? | Coursera Community
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What is the purpose of life? Is it the search for happiness as Aristotle philosophized?

  • 13 June 2020
  • 6 replies

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According to the ancient Greek philospopher Aristotle, the purpose of life was to find something called “eudaimonia” or the good life. There are several different opinions of what this means but can anyone on this forum offer other philosophical ideas for what the object we seek truly is. Specifically, I would like to understand Eastern thinkers thought given that I’m reading a lot of Chinese thought and history right now. I could go further but I just want some thoughts on what the happiness we should seek truly looks like. Is it material pursuits or the pursuit of knowledge for instance? 

6 replies

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I think the answer to the question “what is the purpose of life” is going to be as diverse as the people who try to answer it. My own response would be that the purpose of life is to make this world a better place in some way. One of the ways I’ve done that is by being the parent of someone who has grown up to be a wonderful person and a great mother herself. Another way I do that on a daily basis is to interact with each person I encounter through a spirit of love. 

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I agree with @TechnoMom and I wish there are more like her being a wonderful mother and raising another great mother, not to mention living daily life with lots of love.  Indeed the purpose of life question has diverse answers.  One thing that I am sure of, it is not material pursuit.  There are cases after cases of miserable outcome of people winning lotto after a few years.  For some the pursuit of knowledge may be.  

@monderegal , since you mentioned happiness, for many, that would be their purpose of life.  Dalai Lama said as much.  He wrote at least one book about it.   If you are interested in the science and practice about it, there are two courses that you may like to explore.  One is called A Life of Fulfillment and Happiness, and the other is The Science of Well Being.   While neither is philosophy, they provide researches showing what leads to the outcome of happiness.  And, it is definitely not material pursuit.  Any happiness therefrom is not only transient, but may lead to an opposite outcome of dissatisfaction.  There is a Chinese saying, those who are content with what they have, they are often happy; while those who aren’t, they feel dissatisfied even when they are rich.  

From my journey in search of the answer to the purpose of life question, I find satisfaction and joy in helping others to find their goals in life, to find their ways to reach their goals, to encourage them to learn the lessons that life offers while I also learn to develop and leave the world a better place than when I was born.



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Dear friend I’m a Buddhist and according to lord Buddha the real happiness is to end all sufferings and attaining inner peace through meditation.

Kind regards 



I think that contentment is the purpose, And whatever brings that inner peace is the right path. One just has to find it - that is the challenge.  Meditation, deep breathing, and listening to the heart are helpful……….and having personal boundaries is very important to maintain equanimity.

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the more you try and search for harmony, the more you get far away from it

this is taoism, for example

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@Udyanin I’ve read about the four noble truths. I’m still wondering about the purpose of of ending suffering is the only object we should search for in life. What does Buddhism teach as far as purpose and the ultimate end in which we all seek? Is the noble truth that desire leads only to suffering, while true, lead to any meaningful changes and purposes?