What makes one life goal better than another? It irks me that I can’t find an entirely objective justification for preferring the thrill of solving a puzzle over, say, the artificial euphoria of heroin injection. If it’s all just the release of neurotransmitters in the brain, then why does it matter which form of hedonism I pursue?
Granted, you might say that puzzle-solving increases long-run utility, whereas drugs have detrimental withdrawal symptoms, but this merely evades the principal question. What is utility and why do we aspire to gain it? Why do we call something detrimental? You could continue like this for a while, justifying the search for Beauty or Truth or sustaining Life or whatever idol you’ve managed to prop up, but the crux of any such reasoning is circular: quality is just what you like. There is no objective justification for life.
Is there anything inherently wrong with having no ultimate meaning? It seems entirely counterintuitive, but the answer I’ve been approaching is simply “No.” There is nothing wrong with having no objective goal because the entire question is predicated on the existence of some objective definition of “wrong.” It’s a meaningless question, just as the meaning of life holds no meaning.
But, you say, how can right and wrong have no meaning if I can intrinsically feel them? “Feeling” purpose, though, has nothing whatsoever to do with absolutely justifying it. I can feel the pull of Truth, but that does not mean that pursuing Truth has any meaning outside of what I assign it. It’s a beautifully simple conclusion. “I like what I like” because I like what I like—I don’t have or need any impersonal reason to be that way.
If you’re still reluctant to accept this, then ask yourself the equivalent question, “What is the meaning of a hurricane?” It’s absurd, right? A hurricane is just the complex aggregate of a bunch of simple atmospheric phenomena. There’s no purpose to a hurricane’s path. It doesn’t have a vendetta against humanity or anything remotely resembling a desire at all. It just is. In a similar vein, we can just consider ourselves highly developed hurricanes. Our beautifully elaborate search for purpose—and for purpose behind purpose—is just as inherently “human” as the counterclockwise rotation of a northern hemisphere hurricane is inherently “hurricane.”
Take what you will from this. As for me, I’ll stick to my puzzles.