Concept and Meaning of Life

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When people are asked what life is, the response is always somewhere along the lines of “Life is what you make of it.” I can tell you that there is a lot that can be contradicted with this assumption. People can argue that it is not just about what you make of everything you do, rather it has something to do with biological concepts as well. We all are given the opportunity to be alive on this earth and the time you spend is limited.

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You could agree to disagree with the point of life being what you make of it. I think that the concept of life is defined by your experiences according to Plato and his allegory of the cave and Descartes’s belief in doubting everything. These two philosophers go on a deeper level of experiences than anyone else would really think of when asked what life is.

In order to gain more experiences, you must go out into the world and explore. Plato and his allegory of the cave suggests that you can’t base everything off what you see and think because not everything that you think of is true. The shadows that the people saw in the cave were misrepresentations of the actual creatures they couldn’t see, but the people stuck in the cave didn’t know this. The one man who was set free to explore outside the cave went out and saw nothing but brightness, and he saw a world in front of him. This was his new experience as well as knowledge. Plato explains, “The glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows. And then conceive someone saying to him that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision,” (Plato). Plato believes that in order to gain knowledge you need to experience the truth of an object or event. Thinking of the divided line, if someone were to think of a tree and then look at it how would you know if that was the truth? You wouldn’t. According to the divided line it could be put under any of the categories except the being. That is what Descartes would support alongside Plato’s allegory. He would believe that you need to doubt all experiences in order to gain knowledge of what is true and what is not.

Life comes with many doubts about the things we see and think of. Descartes has a saying Cogito Ergo Sum, which means I think therefore I am. He is saying that he has the capacity to think so therefore he is living. He also believes that there is a reason to doubt everything. Along with Plato, Descartes can think of anything and go straight to doubting whether that idea is real or is it just a figment of imagination. Descartes states, “All the errors which proceed from the senses are then surveyed, while the means of avoiding them are demonstrated, and finally all the reasons from which we may deduce the existence of material things are set forth,” (Descartes). By questioning every experience, he is showing the capacity of reason as all humans do. By having the ability to reason that can help us to come to the conclusions of whether events are real in our lives. Without the ability to doubt I think that we would believe everything any person would say and anything that we would see.

Movement to some people would be thought of as a characteristic of life yet to others it would not be. There is a man who created these wind sculptures and they move when the wind blows on them. They are created in such a way that it makes them seem like they are living things walking/moving on their own. The article states, “The real reason Strandbeest enchant us is the same reason that any so-called “living thing” fascinates us: not because it is “alive,” but because it is so complex and, in its complexity, beautiful.,” (Jabr). If Plato were to see these sculptures, he would come to believe that these moving creatures are not alive. He would argue that art is not alive because it belongs in the object part of the divided line. The same reason that if you see think of a tree and it is shown before you would that be the exact thing that you think of. Many people knowing Descartes idea of doubting would know that he would question this sculpture in a minute. He wouldn’t believe that it is living. It may move but that is not a characteristic of living things. All the experience that we go through in life shape the way we think and see life.

To conclude, the concept of life is defined best with the experiences we go through in life. According to Plato it is to gain more knowledge out of that experience and to Descartes it is to doubt and question the truth of this object or idea in order to gain more knowledge. I argue that in order to find the concept of life it is all about how you soak in all the experiences and what your mind creates of these experiences. By Plato and Descartes using experience to find knowledge they had to doubt the truth of everything. 

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Concept and Meaning of Life. (2021, Oct 19). Retrieved from