The Meaning Of Life Essay

We do more than simply respond to streams of stimuli.

We step back and question who we are and what we do.

In the words of sociologist Peter Berger, in seeking life’s meaning, many are attempting to locate it “within a sacred and cosmic frame of reference” of trying to plumb the connection “between microcosm and macrocosm” (Berger 1967: 27).

This is an important reason why God, transcendence, and other ideas embodied and expressed in religion are so often thought to be relevant to life’s meaning.

Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl said that the human will to meaning comes prior to either our will to pleasure or will to power (Frankl 2006: 99).

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Questions about meaning arise and take shape within varied contexts: when struggling to make an important decision about what to do with our lives, when trapped in a job we hate, when wondering if there is more to life than the daily hum-drum, when diagnosed with a terminal illness, when experiencing the loss of a loved one, when feeling small while looking up at the night sky, when wondering if this universe is all there is and why it is even here in the first place, when questioning whether life and love will have a lasting place in the universe or whether the whole show will end in utter and everlasting desolation and silence.Depending on whom one asks, the question, “What is the meaning of life?” is either the most profound question of human existence or else nothing more than a nonsensical request built on conceptual confusion, much like, “What does the color red taste like? ” Ask a non-philosopher, “What do philosophers discuss?Relatively speaking, not too long ago many analytic philosophers were suspicious that the question of life’s meaning was incoherent.Such views found expression in popular culture too, for example, in Douglas Adams’ widely read book .Words, sentences, and other linguistic constructions are the proper bearers of meaning, not objects, events, or states of affairs, and certainly not itself.Some philosophers thought that in asking for life’s meaning, we use an ill-chosen expression to voice something real, perhaps an emotional response of awe or wonder at the staggering fact that anything exists at all.In so far as the question is entangled with such ideas, the worry is that even if the concept of a meaning of life is coherent, there likely is not one.Despite such suspicions and relative disinterest in the question of life’s meaning among analytic philosophers for a large part of the twentieth century, there is a growing body of work on the topic over roughly the last two decades.Deep Thought explained that this answer was incomprehensible because the beings who designed it, though super-intelligent, did not really know what they were asking in the first place.Asking for life’s meaning might be like this, in which case 42 is as good of an answer as any other.


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