Numerous philosophers have sought to develop a plausible and effective account for the structure of human life. Er, rather… an account of human life as a single entity. This is inherently difficult since there is no way to take into account all human life; past, present, future, here, there, and everywhere. Some, such as Plato, Carr, Jaspers, and Keen, have attempted such an account based on simply their own individual observations, learnings, and experiences.
It has been construed that human life is seen as a narrative in one’s own individual 1st person perspective. This is accepted as how human life is lived. There is a concept of self instilled in us all. Whether this is learned or given is not the question. Based on this observation that humans see their lives from a 1st person perspective is the concept that human life is seen as a narrative story that begins at the beginning and continues to be remembered throughout one’s life. An individual believes this story to be a collection of factual occurrences that lead up to that individual’s present condition. A myth on the other hand is similar to a narrative account for life in that it does tell such a story. However, a myth is different in that it is not considered entirely factual, primarily by the individual who created the myth.
Authenticity and Inathenticity is the next concept we’ll discuss here. According to Carr, simple living and narrative remembering is not the way of a “good” life. We must live an authentic life to be satisfied. Such a life would consist of living with a sense of self and attempting the attainment of goals set by that self. An authentic life is a life that is consciously lived. Decisions are made in reaction to past circumstances and events based on personal opinions of the individual. In and Inauthentic life, such decisions for particular actions would not be based on the individual’s own thought, but rather an outside influence. However, if an individual recognizes and is aware of this outside influence controlling his decisions, then the life is authentic in that the individual realizes his own self; his own narrative; his own life.
This is where the question of authorship comes in. He who writes/lives/remembers/authors his own life is living authentically. As long as he is aware of his own life, everything is authentic. How could things be otherwise? Authorship is the concept that all humans remember their own life story according to events in relation to a consecutive order based on time.
Often these concepts involving philosophy, myths, and narratives can have influence on deciding how one will live one’s life. Perhaps it can be said that such concepts and thought can offer a heightened sense of awareness in one’s life; an awareness of one’s past, present, and future. It can also be said that there are different levels of awareness in life. This awareness can pose a great asset in decision making during unforeseen circumstances. Observations and hypotheses can be created based on thought and experience such that an action can be made that will affect the outcome of the occurrence. Certainly it can be said that any action will affect any outcome. It is the awareness of the cause and effect that is important to knowing the outcome.
Life with meaning… what is this? A life with purpose? A life with reason? These things sound pretty silly to me, yet these are things that many strive for. Meaningful lives are seen as good, fulfilling, and rich with happiness. All of which don’t sound that bad. But the problem is in seeing these things as good and thinking that you don’t have them, hence stress and suffering. A sense of failure overcomes he who thinks his life lacks meaning.
Well, let me say that all life has meaning or at least purpose. It is simply that certain individuals may lack the awareness of their purpose or place. They are there and the events that have led up to their present circumstances certainly must’ve had causes and therefore reason. So why should it not be thought that there were reasons for such an existence to interact with these events? Well, it can simply be a lack of awareness. With an awareness of life’s occurrences any number of meanings can be construed. We can see this as an individual’s construction of meaning that can influences decisions made in the present to affect the future in accordance with that meaning.
A good number of persons possess this opinion that they know what they want to do with their life. Some can even control their future with their own awareness of surroundings or rather a realization. However, as is the case with many modern Americans, many people are unable to ground their actions in a world vision. This common goal of the world vision can be sufficiently rich and compelling to ground a meaningful life… or many meaningful lives for that matter. In “Habits of the Heart”, this is implied to be a bad thing… a “crisis” no less.
Well perhaps this is not a crisis at all. Perhaps the miriad individuals are entirely satisfied with finding themselves and their own individual meaningful life. Or perhaps they don’t know that there could be something better to strive for. Or, better yet, perhaps they do not see that there is something better to strive for that they are already on the path to accomplishing. Perhaps there is such a worldview; it’s just that many do not realize this. So then… on whose head is it to make this all-encompassing goal visible to the masses? Any war could be seen as a goal of society that encompassed the goals of many similar opinions to reach one set end. We can also see conservation groups and medical teams as such groups whose combined efforts are aimed at a higher goal. These things can contribute greatly to a meaningful life. There are many of these, as Bellah may call them, 2nd languages among certain societies. It is only that the universal 2nd language has not yet been revealed.
Adam Z Lein