Thursday, October 13, 2011

The meaning of life

(Also known as the "secret of happiness")...

A student in CoPhi yesterday posted the lyrics of a vulgar song by the old punk band The Dictators, purporting to express the meaning of life. I found it a bit reductive. Here's a more expansive view, from the conclusion of Bertrand Russell's 1930 Conquest of Happiness:

The happy man or woman is
a citizen of the universe, enjoying freely the spectacle that it offers and the joys that it affords, untroubled by the thought of death because he feels himself not really separate from those who will come after him. It is in such profound instinctive union with the stream of life that the greatest joy is to be found.

The "secret" is this: 
Let your interests be as wide as possible , and let your reactions to the things and persons that interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile.

Maybe. But maybe those other Brits were onto something too:
Well, it’s nothing special. Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.

Fundamentally that's all the same advice, isn’t it? Someone should put it in a song.

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