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The Purpose of Life
All people live their lives following one similar pattern – they are born, they develop, learn something new, set their goals hoping to achieve them, and keep striving for excellence. The meaning of life is the eternal theme and it is equally important as the life itself. The anticipation of the hidden secrets of the worlds, creatures, events, and phenomena in nature and the universe, this mysterious something, giving justification for human motives and deeds, permeates the lives of all people. The search for meaning is common to all people. It is a natural and innate quality that is inherent to each of us. It often remains and is deeply hidden in our subconscious, and it can be difficult to explain and articulate what, indeed, we seek and what we want to understand. The reason, the meaning, the purpose of human life has been the subject of controversy and speculation. Not only have the brightest minds of our world but also ordinary people tried to find an answer to this question. This paper will examine the ideas on the purpose of life by Marcus Aurelius revealed in his book Meditations, as well as Aristotle’s opinion on this issue that is based on his work “The Ethics”.
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Modern man often does not know the purpose and meaning of his life. The purpose of life is a concept that represents the goal of life, and man’s destiny. It is the philosophical and spiritual problem that is relevant to the determination of the ultimate goal of existence, the purpose of mankind, the human species, as well as human as an individual, one of the basic philosophical concepts, which has a great significance for the development of the spiritual and moral character of the person. In different historical periods, understanding of the meaning of life acquired different content due to the needs and interests of societies, classes, and social strata.
“Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius is a book written in a noble beautiful poetic language with the central theme of the value and meaning of life. This book even after the translation is still capable of transmitting the thoughts of ancient thinkers, Greek discussion of good and evil, of God, and of destiny. The book “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius is a culmination of the Greek understanding of life meaning. This work can be a source of reflection even for the busiest of modern managing directors. Meditation is a call of duty that Marcus Aurelius has seen as a call to carry out the meaning of his own life which was given to him by God.
The great theme of “Meditation” is the meaning and value of life. To come to his conclusions, Marcus Aurelius started with arguments about God and fate. He believed that God exists in every human being. God is presented as a part of the human soul. The fate of everything though God is redefined in the face of each person.
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Developing the theme of God in human life, writings of Marcus Aurelius converted God from capricious and depraved supreme being into the wisdom of the Lord. The ideological transition, which is reflected by Marcus Aurelius, uses the concept of God. He taught that God is the universe that it is a source of it all, including all the knowledge, and that He is perfect. These monotheistic ideas paved the way for modern Christianity.
Marcus Aurelius believed that destiny within the purpose of life is offered to each of us and that all people should develop their own way. However, he believes that it does not matter whether a man believes in God, or not; whether the man believes in fate and the role of good and evil on the road of his life. In his opinion, these beliefs, and the presence of an opinion on the atomic order or chaos, absolutely do not change anything. A person may believe that the order is the basis of the existence of the universe and that the universe is the random collision of atoms, all these beliefs do not change the way people choose to live. Moreover, according to Marcus Aurelius, understanding of the right way is based on the awareness of a person that he/she himself is able to control his/her thoughts and actions.
Talking about the purpose of life, it should be mentioned that Marcus Aurelius has positioned human consciousness as something that no one can actually change. People’s thoughts are their fortress, in which they are able to avoid any evil influences. Coaching consciousness, the mind is that the wise man should do. The mind must be trained. Meditation and contemplation, not books and simple mechanical reading, leads to an understanding of the truth.
Since no one initially can control the mind of another person, other people’s actions do not harm the person. Another aspect is important: the opinion of the person on what external stimulus represents is important. An individual who has suffered from damage, by definition, believes that this damage occurred. Thus, God controls the external events, but the human’s mind is in human hands. One cannot control other people’s opinion of him/her. One can always kiss his wife before going to sleep, but it does not oblige her to wake up loving him forever. A man can find out that his wife is gone, but the true fact is recognized only by him if it will be accepted by his consciousness.
Thus, God controls all the events in a human’s life. According to Marcus Aurelius, He looks like the captain of a large vessel, which gave a man the place on the beach, but in the proper hour, he calls on that, and the person must return to God. Another idea about the purpose of life which can be found in “Meditations” is that everything that happens is good because God will not allow something to happen if it was not good for a person.
According to Marcus Aurelius, after death, a man is turning into atoms and disappears. The man is just a man, the atom in the universe. The soul departs, and the glory does not matter. The more important thing is whether the person complied with his/her duties assigned to him by God, using their abilities as much as possible.
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All these values can be found in modern literature, they are repeatedly stated after Marcus Aurelius in modern literature. According to the wise Roman emperor – philosopher, all these values are composed in a way to live life and to find freedom. Education in every sense, in all respects, eventually, could lead to the release from anxiety about this world, and the fear of death. According to Marcus Aurelius, the fear of death is the ignorance of people of wisdom in this area. Death is as natural as life is.
For Marcus Aurelius, the purpose of life could be only understood from the perspective of God, destiny, and values. For example, justice is the essence of his role as an Emperor. Power, honor, and ambition are the false ideas that lead people to astray. In the end, the power does not matter. The desire to have it is false since power disappears by itself after death.
The philosophy of Meditation on the purpose of life can be summarized as follows: ‘Get out of bed, get the responsibilities and duty, evaluate what is going on around you is the meaning of life’. This is the purpose of education as well: to understand how to find their own debt and how to fulfill them with the best of their abilities. In addition to that, Aurelius believed that the world is beautiful and full of God’s glory.
Marcus Aurelius was not only one philosopher who was looking for the meaning and purpose of human life. Aristotle said that all human actions are aimed at a single target and obey a common good which is the pursuit of happiness. In order to find something that makes people happy, learn to live, and be happy is the meaning of life, according to the philosopher. Happiness is a private human condition that is pleasant and full of various positive emotions. Thus, the right answer to the question ‘How to live in order to be happy?’, for every man is the way to find his purpose. However, the answer to the question of what is happiness can be quite subjective.
According to Aristotle, the good life, or happiness is the final goal of all our activities. For bodily and external goods, which should be reached, Aristotle adds good for the soul. The most obvious emotional benefits are goods for a reason, such as all kinds of knowledge, skills, and abilities. Just as people naturally want to acquire knowledge, they naturally want to love others and to be loved. A life in which there is no love and friends is a life that is devoid of much-needed goods.
Also, according to Aristotle, the meaning of human life is to use the mind to harmonize his life. The purpose of life is to pursue happiness, that is, to fulfill human essence. Perhaps, he meant that a man should realize his calling and show his talent.
In addition, Aristotle believed that the purpose of life is to serve others and to do good things. When a person understands that he/she could not achieve his/her own happiness without taking into account the happiness of others, it is turned out that people cannot be selfish and successful at the same time. According to Aristotle, that is why it is necessary for a good life and even justice. It is associated with the benefits of other people, not just the friends and loved ones, but also all the others.
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Using the example of two philosophers, one can see the pervading influence of time on the views of thinkers. At that time, the central place in the world was held by the man and God. As people get older and more serious, they try to collect all of the various goals into one, into a single scheme of life. If they do not do that, it must be, for as Aristotle advised. We should try to develop a plan to live our lives to the fullest.
The question of the meaning of life accompanies mankind throughout the entire period of its existence. In order for the eternal question to appear in the minds, already a certain level of material and cultural development of society is necessary. The philosophy is the use of knowing how to guide our people and control society, to make it the best, not worse. Aristotle and Marcus Aurelius help to understand the relationship of all human knowledge. Their philosophy is something that will help people to understand themselves and the world around them. In the end, Aristotle and Marcus Aurelius help a man to become the kind of person he can be. According to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, the ultimate goal of human life is to be kind and happy.
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