The Purpose of Life and Other Short Stories

Finally he knew the purpose of life. It was so simple, so self evident, once you’ve seen it. It could even be summarized in one word. (Footnote: these ideas are partly from Pirsig’s book Lila)).

The matter, space and time are the ground for biological life. (Footnote: I do not say that life could not exist without matter/space/time. In fact I speculate that such life could exist in the posting “What was there before the time came into being?”). This matter based layer is governed by what we call natural laws of physics, of which the law of gravity is the most known.

On top of the matter layer there is a biological layer. It needs the matter based layer, but is trying to free itself from it and the laws that reign there. Animals for instance can move in directions that stones can’t. They have freed themselves from the tyranny of natural laws of physics (or at least trying to as best as they can). In the biological layer there are new laws introduced. We know them as “the law of the jungle”. The highest good in this layer is food and sex and sheer survival.

On top of the biological layer is the sociological layer. This layer needs the biological layer, but is trying to free itself from it and from the tyranny of the law of the jungle. The laws that govern the sociological level is today known as the “legal laws” and they govern how the society is protecting itself against those trying to practice the law of the jungle. Before the modern legal laws there were laws expressed in various religious texts as “the ten commandments” and “the Koran” governing what is acceptable behavior in the society and what was not. Apart from the legal laws there are also tacit laws in the form of “code of conduct”. The highest good in the sociological layer is honor. In societies that have not yet left the sociological layer, like some parts of some muslim nations, it is acceptable to kill your own daughter if she dishonors of the family. One hundred and fifty years ago, it was not uncommon that people in Europe killed themselves if they lost their honor.

On top of the sociological layer is the intellectual layer. The intellectual layer needs the sociological layer for its existence, but is trying to free itself from the nonsensical laws reigning in the sociological layer. Why should I as an individual subordinate myself to some arbitrary rules by the sociological authorities like the church or state, if my own conscience and rational thinking say otherwise. The rational thinking and the truth are perceived as the highest good. The rise of the intellectual layer has been fired by the enormous success of science and technology the last couple of hundred years.

We have covered four layers and why should it stop there. If we do not destroy ourselves, there will be i fifth layer going beyond the fourth layer, giving us more freedom then ever before. There have been attempts, although unsuccessful, to create something new, going beyond the obvious limits of the intellectual layer. Why should we poison the mother earth, to make small number of individuals unreasonably rich? Why must we work ourselves to death to keep up with Joneses? Why must we go to war and kill other people? and so on. Why must we be so cruel to animals, letting them suffer and slaughter them? It is evident that the intellectual layer has powerful muscles but that it has no heart. I hope that the fifth layer will bring the heart, the fantasy and the true creativity into discussion.

Now let’s discuss the struggle. As a new layer tries to overcome the limits of an old layer it meats heavy opposition. It was a literal life and death struggle when biological layer tried to establish itself on top of the matter layer. The earth was formed 4500 million years ago. The first macroscopic hard-shelled animals appeared 570 millions years ago. It was a hard struggle indeed and for what we know this battle was lost on all planets in the solar system except the Earth. There is never a guarantee that a new layer will win.

The real battle between the biological layer and sociological layer began a couple of thousand years ago when the first civilizations were formed. This kind of battles still continue in parts of world. For instance in some African countries with different war lords fighting for power.

The battle between the sociological layer and the intellectual began in the medieval time when the so called heretics let their voices be heard. The word heretic was the word that church used for the persons that we today call the intellectuals. So for several hundred of years in Europe, there was one battle after another against the heretics. But the heretics won at last. This battle is still going on in under developed countries like Iran and Afghanistan. From the sociological point of view of these countries, the heretics from the West are trying to destroy everything they believe in.

So the transition from the fourth layer to the fifth will not be an easy one. Like always it will be a fight to death. Question: What will come after the fifth layer. Answer: The sixth layer. It keeps expanding and this expansion is the purpose of life. And what is that purpose. If you study the transition between the different layers we’ve been discussing you will se a red thread. It is always headed for greater freedom, getting rid of the tyranny of the “laws” that limit the life. So the purpose of life can be summarized in one word. Freedom.

seems you found your way to “the great chain of being” as described by Aurobindo, Gebser, and many others. The latest and most comprehensive work about this was done by Ken E. Wilber. A whole movement seems to be forming around him. Cf. Wikipedia and the linked websites.

Thanks for pointing out the “Great chain of beingâ€


Yes, there are certain similarities but also differences.

  1. Mineral=Matter layer
  2. Vegetable and Animal=Biological layer
  3. The struggle between flesh and spirit = The struggle between the biological and the sociological layers.
  4. In my system there are not just four layers but an infinite numbers of them. In my system each layer is struggling against the underlying layers in order to get more freedom. In “Great chain of beingâ€

The Great Chain in life is this

Beer has its own budget. With that in mind I would rather regret something I have done then to regret never doing it.

Anything else is complacency.



Thanks for pointing out the “Great chain of beingâ€