Combining the ideas presented by Becker, Birch, and Cobb, I believe that the purpose of Life is the pursuit of happiness. A realist biological argument would propose that survival is the purpose of Life – either in regards to an individual’s personal success or the endurance of a species. Arguably, happiness and survival are synonymous. Becker presents that the underlying issue with humanity is the denial of death from a lack of the unknown and a rejection of one’s creatureliness. The foil to survival is death because if one fails to survive, then one must be dead. Taking this into consideration, survival and happiness are the same, since the opposing option, death, is the core source of unhappiness, anxiety, and fear in society.
There are certain parameters of survival that I think all humans need. The first is sustenance in the form of nutritious food and clean water, followed by shelter from natural elements, and companionship either by communities, family, friends, or a partner. Obviously humans need food and water in order to keep their bodies and mind functioning – animalistic survival. The environment can be perilous, thus safety from unexpected dangers is necessary – external survival. Additionally, humans are social creatures and- to a degree- their minds need stimulus and entertainment which can be provided by fellow humans – internal survival. Companionship was also needed to augment food and shelter; there is an element of efficiency in numbers as long as everyone does their share. In early human history sustenance, shelter, and companionship was to be strived for to ensure existence. Early humans needed cultivated skills and strength in order to provide them with food, shelter, and accompaniment – proficiency in the undomesticated, inhospitable world took a lifetime. For early humans, the meaning of Life was survival.
In the modern industrialized nation, the basic elements of survival are no longer entirely left up to the individual. Government programs, institutions, and organizations can provide food, shelter, and to an extent – companionship. In these countries, survival has become a right not a goal. With survival supplied, the purpose of Life is left open. Increased complications and advancements in culture and technology bring about increased complications in the purpose of Life. Survival no longer fulfills happiness because survival has become automatic. Happiness, therefore, must be sought after in another way. Like the early humans lifetime acquisition of skill in survival – their happiness – modern humans need a lifetime to develop their general happiness. In a sense, happiness is left open in the developed world because of survivals guarantee. Therefore, the meaning of Life is in the pursuit of happiness – doing the thing that makes people happy. Truly happy. My theory is that a true happiness will make culture filled up and complete because needs will be satisfied, much like the feeling when needs are met for basic survival. Political, religious, and cultural differences will be superfluous because if people focus on their true happiness their void will be filled and the soul’s justification, in the form of war and conflict, will be pointless.
Unfortunately, the advertising and media industries try to tell people what makes them happy. People acquire their happiness from the outside, not the inside and live their lives as someone else. Becker’s denial of death is a denial that you have lived your own life. If people live by the standards set externally, when Death arrives they feel cheated – cheated because they have not lived their life yet, having spent a lifetime pursuing someone else’s happiness. Therefore, I believe that the purpose of Life is in the continued pursuit of personal happiness.