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Encyclopedia > Purpose

Purpose in its most general sense is the anticipated aim which guides action. It is used as the synonym of goal and objective. Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Image File history File links Emblem-important. ... Action, as a concept in philosophy, is what an agent can do, as for instance humans as agents can do. ... Synonyms (in ancient Greek, συν (syn) = plus and όνομα (onoma) = name) are different words with similar or identical meanings. ... Look up goal in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Template:Wiktionarypar objective Objective may be: Objective lens, an optical element in a camera or microscope. ...


In human life

“There is a fundamental human need for guiding ideals that give meaning to our actions”, states Roger Fisher. Renowned psychiatrist Victor Frankl’s premise is that ‘man’s search for meaning’ is the primary motivation of his life. He speaks of the ‘will to meaning’ as opposed to Freud’s’ ‘will to pleasure’ and Friedrich Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’. Negotiation and conflict resolution expert Roger Fisher is the co-author (along with Bill Ury) of the classic book on win-win negotiation called Getting to YES. Fisher, a professor at Harvard Law School, says he started by asking the question What advice could I give to both parties in... Mans search for meaning Viktor Emil Frankl, M.D., Ph. ... Sigmund Freud His famous couch Sigmund Freud (May 6, 1856 - September 23, 1939) was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology, a movement that popularized the theory that unconscious motives control much behavior. ... Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) (IPA: ) was a nineteenth-century German philologist and philosopher. ...

According to some philosophies, purpose is central to a good human life. Helen Keller wrote that happiness comes from "fidelity to a worthy purpose", and Ayn Rand wrote that purpose must be one of the three ruling values of human life (the others are reason and self-esteem - refer Nathaniel Branden ). Some people hold that God assigns purposes to people and that it is their mission to fulfill them. Others hold that purpose is not inherent, but instead freely chosen (or not chosen) by individuals. Among these, some say that natural propensities may determine what sorts of purposes a person needs to pursue, but do not guarantee that he or she will pursue them, that being dependent on free choice. For other uses, see Philosophy (disambiguation). ... Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was a deafblind American author, activist and lecturer. ... For the financial services company, see Fidelity Investments. ... Ayn Rand (IPA: , February 2 [O.S. January 20] 1905 – March 6, 1982), born Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum (Russian: ), was a Russian-born American novelist and philosopher. ... For other uses, see Reason (disambiguation). ... In psychology, self-esteem or self-worth is a persons self-image at an emotional level; circumventing reason and logic. ... Nathaniel Branden (b. ... This article discusses the term God in the context of monotheism and henotheism. ...

Pursuing a career, raising a family and creative vocation are all long terms for all cultures. It is related to many philosophies of life and these three main aspects do make life meaningful. It is as one could say, the American Dream. These aspects take a Westernized position. The eudaimonism and objectivism that claim self-sacrificial goals are destructive take more of a Western philosophy and cannot be generalized into the Eastern philosophy. Eastern philosophy such as Buddhism shows that self-sacrificial goals are not destructive because one can bring out their own happiness through self-sacrificial goals especially when it comes to family. In eastern cultures it is more of a collectivism perspective than an individualistic one.

Modern spiritual philosophy sees the purpose in life as improving the environment and world condition for all beings. In the most immediate sense this means each individual finding the special talents which are a gift to serve others. This in turn is found in pursuing a soul level joy, so that the personal and highest individual purpose of life is pursuit of soul level joy. This is the first joy, that which has followed the individual from birth. In most instances it begins with the desire for acceptance and evolves to discovery of each person's genius or gift to serve.

Richard Dawkins and other like-minded scientists would cite man's purpose as ensuring the continuity of one's genetic or memetic make-up. Christians would assert that man's purpose is about doing God's work. One example of this is Rick Warren's teaching on the Purpose Driven Life. Clinton Richard Dawkins, FRS (born March 26, 1941) is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and popular science writer who holds the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford. ... Meme, (rhymes with cream and comes from Greek root with the meaning of memory and its derivative mimeme), is the term given to a unit of information that replicates from brains and inanimate stores of information, such as books and computers, to other brains or stores of information. ... Richard D. Rick Warren (born January 28, 1954) is the founding and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California, the largest Christian church in California. ... The Purpose Driven Life (2002) is a Christian book by pastor Rick Warren. ...

Relationship as a purpose

Theravada Buddhist, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, states in The Art of Happiness that the purpose of life is the pursuit of happiness, which would seem to present a circular argument with the definition of purpose according to other philosophies mentioned above unless purpose and happiness are the same thing. One important distinction to make is that statistically, those people who behave or appear happy tend to be altruistic and less egotistic. It would follow that an appropriate choice of purpose altruistic in nature leads to happiness. Tenzin Gyatso (born 6 July 1935) is the fourteenth and current Dalai Lama. ... The Art of Happiness (Riverhead, 1998, ISBN 1573221112) is a book written by the Dalai Lama and co-authored with Howard Cutler, a psychiatrist who posed deeply probing questions to the Dalai Lama. ... For other uses, see Happiness (disambiguation). ... Altruism refers to both a practice or habit (in the view of many, a virtue) as well as an ethical doctrine. ... Egotism is the the motivation to maintain and enhance favorable views of self to the point of being self-destructive. ...

According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, relationship, acceptance, and sexual intimacy is fundamental to meeting human needs and conducive to building happiness. Or moreover, that the pursuit of these things, though not necessarily directly, are the underlying purpose of one's actions. Concerning intimacy, the Dalai Lama's view is that sexual intimacy is not necessarily conducive to happiness and fulfillment. It only serves to provide temporary gratification and the desire for a committed bond, which is brought-about by the secretion of oxytocin during orgasm. This promotes the desire for intimacy between the two individuals. Daniel Maguire says in his article Sex and the Sacred: Maslows Hierarchy of Needs is a theory in psychology that Abraham Maslow proposed in his 1945 paper A Theory of Human Motivation, which he subsequently extended to include his observations of humans innate curiosity. ... Oxytocin (Greek: quick birth) is a mammalian hormone that also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. ...

"It used to be said animal humanum post coitum triste, humans after love-making are sad. 'A pity beyond all telling is hid in the heart of love,' said the poet Yeats. That can happen. Sex awakens hopes for intimacy and the priceless gift of mutual trust."

It would follow that one key purpose of sexual intimacy is to build a lasting bond between two people. According to the Dalai Lama, contemporary Western culture falsely holds that deep intimacy between individuals is not possible outside of romantic or marital attachments. Deep relational intimacy is possible and appropriate between all individuals regardless of status. In light of this, the Dalai Lama's views, and Maslow's hiearchy, all indicate a genetic underlying purpose of life to diligently build and retain intimate bonds with other people.


Purpose is similar to teleology, the idea that a final goal is implicit in all living organisms. Until the modern age, philosophy followed Aristotle's and Plato's depiction of a teleological cosmos in which all things had a final purpose (namely, to realize their implicit perfection). Perhaps most modern philosophers of science have reversed the idea of purpose inherent in nature; they do not consider an eye explicable as being "in order to see"; instead, cause-and-effect processes are credited with bringing about the eye organ, which allows us to see. The difference is between a cause as pushing from behind (movements of billiard balls) and a cause as pulling from within (movement of a growing plant). With teleology (purpose) matter is fulfilling some aim from within. Teleology (Greek: telos: end, purpose) is the philosophical study of design, purpose, directive principle, or finality in nature or human creations. ... Final cause is one of Aristotles four forms of causation (the others being material, formal, and efficient). ... For other uses, see Aristotle (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Plato (disambiguation). ... Philosophy of science is the study of assumptions, foundations, and implications of science, especially in the natural sciences and social sciences. ...

Popular culture

  • Nikos Mourkogiannis argues in his book Purpose: The Starting point of great companies that purpose is crucial to a firm’s success: it is the primary source of achievement and reveals the underlying human dynamics of any human activity. He starts with a discussion of purpose, what it is, and what it is not, and also identifies four possible sources of energy for purpose, four sets of moral ideas that provide the basis for action. The second part of the book contains great stories of purpose, illustrating each of these four ideas. The third part explores the connection between purpose and the four attributes of greatness – morale, innovation, competitive advantage and leadership. The author then details how to develop purpose and put it into action and also discusses four purpose driven companies.
  • The Broadway play Avenue Q describes purpose as helping others, especially in the song "Purpose".

The Purpose Driven Life book cover The Purpose Driven Life (2002) is a devotional book written by Christian author Rick Warren and published by Zondervan. ... Avenue Q is a Tony award-winning musical that was conceived by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, who wrote the music and lyrics. ...

See also

This article does not cite any references or sources. ... All Saints Chapel in the Cathedral Basilica of St. ... Not to be confused with the Ultimate Question or Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. ... Value redirects here. ...

External links

Look up Purpose in
Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
  • Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Causation in the Seventeenth Century: Final Causes
  • The Purpose Project—Center for Spirituality & Healing—University of Minnesota
  • Sex and the Sacred By Daniel C. Maguire
  • The One Question Articles, exercises and tests on finding purpose in life.
Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wiktionary (a portmanteau of wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 151 languages. ...

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Helen Keller wrote that happiness comes from "fidelity to a worthy purpose", and Ayn Rand wrote that purpose must be one of the three ruling values of human life (the others are reason and self-esteem).
Some people hold that God assigns purposes to people and that it is their mission to fulfill them.
Purpose is similar to teleology, the idea that a final goal is implicit in all living organisms.
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