Essay On The Meaning Of Life

Essay On The Meaning Of Life-64
While these concepts have some bearing on happiness and morality, they are straightforwardly construed as accounts of which final ends a person ought to realize in order to have a life that matters.

While these concepts have some bearing on happiness and morality, they are straightforwardly construed as accounts of which final ends a person ought to realize in order to have a life that matters.

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First, to ask whether someone's life is meaningful is not one and the same as asking whether her life is happy or pleasant.

A life in an experience or virtual reality machine could conceivably be happy but very few take it to be a prima facie candidate for meaningfulness (Nozick 1974: 42–45).

Afterward, it considers texts that provide answers to the more substantive question about the nature of meaning as a property.

Some accounts of what make life meaningful provide particular ways to do so, e.g., by making certain achievements (James 2005), developing moral character (Thomas 2005), or learning from relationships with family members (Velleman 2005).

Many major historical figures in philosophy have provided an answer to the question of what, if anything, makes life meaningful, although they typically have not put it in these terms.

Consider, for instance, Aristotle on the human function, Aquinas on the beatific vision, and Kant on the highest good.Note that one can coherently hold the view that some people's lives are less meaningful than others, or even meaningless, and still maintain that people have an equal moral status.Consider a consequentialist view according to which each individual counts for one in virtue of having a capacity for a meaningful life (cf.Railton 1984), or a Kantian view that says that people have an intrinsic worth in virtue of their capacity for autonomous choices, where meaning is a function of the exercise of this capacity (Nozick 1974, ch. On both views, morality could counsel an agent to help people with relatively meaningless lives, at least if the condition is not of their choosing.Another uncontroversial element of the sense of “meaningfulness” is that it connotes a good that is conceptually distinct from happiness or rightness (something emphasized in Wolf 2010).And if an individual is loved from afar, can it logically affect the meaningfulness of her “life” (Brogaard and Smith 2005, 449)?Returning to topics on which there is consensus, most writing on meaning believe that it comes in degrees such that some periods of life are more meaningful than others and that some lives as a whole are more meaningful than others (perhaps Britton 1969, 192).However, most recent discussions of meaning in life are attempts to capture in a single principle all the variegated conditions that can confer meaning on life.This survey focuses heavily on the articulation and evaluation of these theories of what would make life meaningful.However, that is to posit a synthetic, substantive relationship between the concepts, and is far from indicating that speaking of “meaning in life” is analytically a matter of connoting ideas regarding happiness or rightness, which is what I am denying here.My point is that the question of what makes a life meaningful is conceptually distinct from the question of what makes a life happy or moral, even if it turns out that the best answer to the question of meaning appeals to an answer to one of these other evaluative questions.

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