Last time I divided key decision factors in the choice of a meaningful purpose in the world of humanity into three main categories – individual, external, and intrinsic – and analyzed individual factors of physical and mental or psychological types. Today we look at some extrinsic factors. These also fall into two general types: environmental and temporal.

Environmental factors are mainly geopolitical and cultural. The first consists of the physical location where one lives and political circumstances in one’s world. You may live reside in a rural or an urban setting, each of which involve some constraints. Rural living typically offers little opportunity to be a university professor, to engage in certain types of research, or to pursue some types of entertainment or for instance. Urban environments similarly provide limited possibilities for agricultural pursuits or for naturalism and wildlife management. Fortunately most occupations, callings, missions, and creative enterprises are possible anywhere, and of course most of us can relocate if our particular passion requires.

Political circumstances are less flexible, but at least in Western democracies, create few compelling obstacles. Should you live in a less free nation such as a strict Communist or Islamic society, a dictatorship like Algeria or Myanmar, or if you live in a less developed nation such as Somalia or Burundi, you likely need to factor in local constraints more carefully (or consider emigration). Catholic communities may reject a calling in population control or family planning or to pursue stem cell research. Women are unable to assume some roles in up to 104 countries for mostly cultural or historical reasons.1 Other cultural considerations may be more subtle, referring to societal needs or acceptability. Tangible significance may require one to fine tune one’s life pursuit to the needs of those in one’s surroundings.

Two remaining external factors, both based on temporal reality, influence at least some decisions on cultural purpose: historicity and human destiny. Historicity refers to our unchangeable position in the human timeline. We simply exist in our time not a past era, and that historical position must be a factor in our concept of our purpose within the great scheme of civilization. Within that framework is our view of the nature of history – is it cyclic or one of progress or even devolution? The way one views one’s position in the continuing cadence of human chronology may influence particularly large or enduring purpose of one’s life.

The last and arguably most important external factor in one’s choice of purpose in civilization is human destiny. In an earlier section I examined human destiny as not only one of probabilities, but also as intention, that is we may hope to be agents in a preferred outcome.2 It seems reasonable to choose extended personal goals in light of likely scenarios of any distant human civilization, and with regard to the future we imagine for humanity and wish to be a part in bringing about.

(further continued next post)


1According to the World Economic Forum webpage:  https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/08/104-countries-have-laws-that-prevent-women-from-working-in-some-jobs/

2See posts on Human Destiny in the section Free Will and Fate on this site, especially posts dated 10/18/19 and 10/21/2019.

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