Our personal lives are often dictated and affected by meaning and purpose gained through knowledge. In order to explore the role of knowledge in providing meaning and purpose in our personal lives, one must first define what 'meaning in our personal life' and 'purpose in our personal life' are. These definitions may differ vastly depending upon each individual's perception of life. For example, renowned American psychiatrist and author, David Viscott, once famously said, "The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away". His interpretation of the meaning and purpose of life focuses on devoting personal lives for the greater good of the society. On the contrary, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins believes "life has no higher purpose than to perpetuate the survival of DNA" . He remains purely scientific and believes that the only reason organisms exist is to give birth to future generations. In my opinion, meaning in our personal lives can be gained through a better understanding of our environment, our circumstances or ourselves. Purpose, on the other hand, is achieved by setting realistic goals and working towards achieving them. This essay will primarily be referring to these definitions as a basis, while using others to evaluate, the extent to which I believe knowledge is solely used to provide meaning and purpose in our personal lives.
Knowledge, in some cases, could provide meaning in our lives. In human sciences such as psychology and anthropology, we study the concept of cultural relativism . This theory states that an individual's actions and beliefs must be considered in context of the culture that they are in. What is accepted in one culture may be condemned in another. Knowledge about cultural relativism can provide meaning in our lives as it allows us to understand our personal behavior and that of ones around us in a cultural context.