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The existence of the universal goal

Everyone has its own dreams, goals, objectives, etc. Some are interested in domains that others don't like. Still, I think we all share one, or several, common goal(s), that, together with experience, direct all our very single actions.

Why search for it?

If everyone possesses it, isn't it obvious? I think it's not conscious and that it takes a good introspection to find it.

Socrates said:

Know thyself and you will know even the gods and the universe

Being aware of this goal is a good way to act better towards it and to be satisfied with our life. To a smaller extent, it could increase our productivity by strenghtening our will by thinking about these goals, that if I'm right should be the best reasons to do something in the world and to check whether what you do is right.

Some suggestions to start off

I've already given some thought to this very, very, very important question. Here's what I suggest:

The indicator

Wouldn't you agree that the goal of life is to be happy? Not just a little happiness, but more: ecstasy? But you can't be happy with anything; this feeling is the indicator of the fulfilment of our primary goals.

What are the goals about?

I'm sure all the goals are for the sake of oneself only, or at least first far behind the other beings or things. We'll discuss this point through the other goals.

Physical stuff

Therefore, your first concern is to stay alive: eating and drinking and generally be healthy is the primary goal. Safety is also important, because we can anticipate, so even if our life is not hurt right now, we don't feel at ease unless we're far from predators.

As humans "dominate" Earth, it's kind of relieved of this task, but that's not enough! Even people who live very well can be very sad: the second part of happiness is mostly psychological. I think we can divide it in two categories:

Social proof

You can nearly "survive" every hardship with good friends. One achieves things to be recognized and appreciated by everyone; this is the best reward.

Even altruistic people help other people for themselves, because it makes them feel good (Dr. House said something like that). I'm not sure one would enjoy helping others if he were considered a slave or whatever. If you don't believe me, consider this situation: You wake up in the morning, and you discover you're the only being left in the world. You have everything you want: money, food, leisures, for free, but you won't be feeling good for sure. People who crash on unknown islands and have to survive there for years can do so only because they hope, anticipate that they will get saved, but they wouldn't otherwise.

I don't blame altruistic people at all! Montesquieu said something like: "One's happiness is bound to everyone's happiness.". If we think about it, that's luckily the reason why humanity still exists. If we were really dumb and started killing each other to get the other's food or goods, and not uniting against greater foes and saving each other's life, our species would be extinct!

Then, what about tyrans, psychopaths? Well, they must be feeling very bad and jailed in a vicious circle where they don't think they can apologize for their crimes, because they wouldn't be forgiven, and just think of protecting themselves by being even more tyrannic. That's what happends to Macbeth, in Shakespeare's play.

The "primary" thought at the base of this goal would be that: "The more friends I have, the less ennemies I'll get, or I'll be protected by my friends. Thus, my life won't get in jeopardy because of them."

Care for physical appearance is without a doubt linked to this goal. I'm not an expert so I don't know about the criteras, but I think it's still related to safety. It may mean one is confident or he has adopted the habits of its society, thus dressing weird can make him feel weak because of people avoiding him or laughing at him. We may have conceptions of beauty at birth, such as symetry and curves. It may depend on what we're judging. A painting and another person are different. The person is judged beautiful if he/she looks in good physical condition, thus taking care or him/herself, or looks kind, thus not being a danger to us.

A kind of consequence to the "social proof" goal, subgoal: acquisition of power, intellectual or physical. Means we can better protect ourselves from the world, and thus feel safer.

Having children could also be a way to extend one's power, or at least influence, but I'm not satisfied with this explanation.

Wikipedia's page on love:

Love may be understood as part of the survival instinct, a function to keep human beings together against menaces and to facilitate the continuation of the species.

I don't know whether we care about what happens to humanity after we die or not. Epicurus would maybe say no... but there might me more reasons behind this.

If we have the same goal, why do we act differently?

There are people who try to achieve this and are already happy because they're confinent they'll succeed, and people who feel they failed and lost their will, which leads to all kind of bad emotions and actions, such as wrath and suicide.

Anyway, it all comes to our genes. We really have something in mind when we're born and even before... A core program that's still to discover...

Need answers!

What's your opinion? Any questions about mine or cases that would enforce or question my theories? First, do you agree there is a universal goal? I'd love to read scientific studies on that, but I hope philosophy alone won't be considered "too subjective".

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closed as off topic by Rory Alsop Sep 15 '12 at 12:33

Questions on Personal Productivity Stack Exchange are expected to relate to personal productivity within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
While this is an interesting philosophical question, I can't see a question in here relating to productivity. If you can distil down to an on-topic question we can reopen. –  Rory Alsop Sep 15 '12 at 12:34
    
What about the "Why search for it?" section? "Being aware of this goal is a good way to act better towards it and to be satisfied with our life. To a smaller extent, it could increase our productivity by strenghtening our will by thinking about these goals, that if I'm right should be the best reasons to do something in the world and to check whether what you do is right." –  L01man Sep 15 '12 at 13:56

1 Answer 1

No, the goal of life is far more than being happy, IMO. If I merely wanted to be happy, I'm sure I could find a combination of chemicals to produce that result which could be repeated to get that result.

Depending on the individual's environments, others can often be a great influence. "Change or Die" by Alan Deutschman has some of this covered pretty well with various studies to back up his claims as 90% of people who have heart bypass surgery are unable to maintain the changes in the face of death.

That book has some mentions for where there are a handful of practices that are responsible for a great deal of the medical costs that we have in the Western world where smoking, drinking, overeating, lack of exercise and other basic stuff isn't covered well. If you want another example here, look at how the cast of "Jersey Shore" is held up as celebrities yet given all the smoking and drinking alcohol these people do, what kind of health issues will they have in the future?

I'd claim one's belief system can have a great impact on how one operates in this world and that this is rarely understood well in the modern world. 5 Questions with Marcus Buckingham: Harnessing Your Strengths and True Genius has these lines that I like:

Part of stepping into your strengths or channeling your genius is a growth process. It's something you grow into as you experiment and learn how to best apply yourself.

...

If you want to be a person who actually excels in your life and derives satisfaction from the work that you do in your life, there is no one who cares more about that than you.

Neuro-linguistic programming would be part of that belief system stuff that I'd suggest you study more to see how this is part of the key to this.

Those are some starting points for what you could do next as some of this has been studied at some length. Look into work by Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, Jack Canfield, Tony Robbins, Marcus Buckingham and Gallup press for some examples that have covered this field in quite some detail.


  1. "Demerol" would be an example of a chemical that can give one a sense of euphoria that could be taken repeatedly if merely being happy was my goal. It isn't but if it was, that would be how I'd go about attacking the problem. There can be diminishing returns but this merely leads to other drugs to cycle through over the course of one's life. This is presuming that happiness alone is the goal of life, which I'd claim it isn't.

  2. If health is so important, why is the cast of "Jersey Shore" viewed as sex symbols and paid so much for appearances? Thus, general health is not important but appearance can be which is a very important distinction and something you don't really mention, internal versus external views of life. There is something to be said for views of what and isn't valued within society.

  3. The belief system is how one makes sense of the world. There are experiences that get processed and various ideas and concepts are pulled together to interpret the world. Is one born with fixed intelligence or can it be developed like a skill? This is an open question where depending on the beliefs one has, either answer can make sense. Henry Ford's quote of, "If you believe you can or you believe you can't, you are right," would be an example of applying this.

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"what kind of health issues will they have in the future": You're right, but what's your point here? In this case, they must both feel happy because they're famous, and unhappy, and not healthy because they consume too much bad stuff. –  L01man Sep 15 '12 at 2:40
    
"If you want to be a person who actually excels in your life and derives satisfaction from the work that you do in your life, there is no one who cares more about that than you.": you're the only one to really care about yourself, and "satisfiction" is obtained through the completion of the two main goals I think we have. –  L01man Sep 15 '12 at 2:49
    
"I'd claim one's belief system can have a great impact on how one operates in this world": I agree. But what is one's belief system for? There are values nearly everyone agrees on which I think are explainable with my post and the others, right or wrong in reality, since we think it's right, could be explained the same way. That's part of what I meant with "together with experience". –  L01man Sep 15 '12 at 2:54
    
"If I merely wanted to be happy, I'm sure I could find a combination of chemicals to produce that result which could be repeated to get that result.": Does it exist? Then, trying it might give us an answer. But I don't think you can be entirely happy by artificially acitvating the reward system and whatever happiness is manifested through, because you'd understand you're not gaining any social proof, for example. –  L01man Sep 15 '12 at 2:56
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I'll read these authors. Thank you for mentioning them. –  L01man Sep 15 '12 at 3:32

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