What purpose does human life have, if any, that is not to be found in the life of a cow or an insect? What is the purpose of your life?

Philosophical Questions

Opening Questions

Is there anything you would willingly die for? What?

If you had only a few minutes to live, what would you do with them? What if you had only a few days? Twenty years?

A famous philosopher once said that human life is no more significant than the life of a cow or an insect. We eat, sleep, stay alive for a while, and reproduce so that others like us can eat, sleep, stay alive for a while, and reproduce, but without any ultimate purpose at all. How would you answer him? What purpose does human life have, if any, that is not to be found in the life of a cow or an insect? What is the purpose of your life?

Do you believe in God? If so, for what reason(s)? What is God like? (That is, what is it that you believe in?) How would you prove to someone who does not believe in God that God does indeed exist and that your belief is true? (What would change your mind about this?)

If you do not believe in God, why not? Describe the Being in whom you do not believe. (Are there other conceptions of God that you would be willing to accept? What would change your mind about this?)

Which is most “real”—the chair you are sitting on, the molecules that make up the chair, or the sensations and images you have of the chair as you are sitting on it?

Suppose you were an animal in a psychologist’s laboratory but that you had all the mental capacities for thought and feeling, the same “mind,” that you have now. You overhear the scientist talking to an assistant, saying, “Don’t worry about that; it’s just a dumb animal, without feelings or thoughts, just behaving according to its instincts.” What could you do to prove that you do indeed have thoughts and feelings, a “mind”?

Now suppose a psychological theorist (for example, the late F. Skinner of Harvard University) were to write that, in general, there are no such things as “minds,” that people do nothing more than “behave” (that is, move their bodies and make sounds according to certain stimulations from the environment). How would you argue that you do indeed have a mind, that you are not just an automaton or a robot, but a thinking, feeling being?

Suppose that you live in a society in which everyone believes that the earth stands still, with the sun, the moon, and the stars revolving around it in predictable, if sometimes complex, orbits. You object, “You’re all wrong: The earth revolves around the sun.” No one

What purpose does human life have, if any, that is not to be found in the life of a cow or an insect? What is the purpose of your life?