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Unformatted text preview: Discussion 10/19. Some stuff on the meaning of life. Part I provides more background on the meaning-of-life issue, for those who are inclined to write their paper on the topic. Part II is probably relevant to the exam. Part I: The meaning of someones life is not conceptually the same as either their happiness or their moral goodness. Its at least conceivable that someone could be happy having unknowingly lived their whole life in a virtual reality machine, while nonetheless lacking a meaningful life. Also, its at least conceivable that someone could acquire (more) meaning in their life by sacriFcing (some of) their own happiness. Also, its conceivable to acquire some meaning in ones life by achieving something that has nothing to do with morality (by creating a great work of art, for example). If the meaning of life is somehow dependent on happiness or moral goodness, its certainly not obviously so. What does the question, What is the meaning (signiFcance, importance) of life? mean? The question can be understood in several ways. Some options: What goals are worth achieving? What experiences are worth having? What desires are worth satisfying? What kind of person is it worth being? We can focus on the issue of what makes an individuals life meaningful, and lets assume that a meaningful life has a positive value for the individual whose life it is. We can then enquire into the nature of that good. Some theories (not a complete list) A persons life gains meaning to the extent that they fulFll Gods purpose(s). God (who is absolutely perfect) created the universe and us in accordance with a plan. People have a role to play in that plan, a purpose. The better you serve that purpose, the more meaning your life has. This general view leaves open what our purpose or purposes are. One objection to Gods purpose theories: We do not disparage a dog when we say that it has no purpose, is not a sheep dog or a watch dog . Man is in a different category, however. To attribute to a human being a purpose in that sense is not neutral, let alone complimentary: it is offensive. It is degrading for a man to be regarded as merely serving a purpose. If, at a garden party, I ask a man in livery, What is your purpose? I am as merely serving a purpose....
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This note was uploaded on 04/29/2008 for the course PHIL 100 taught by Professor ? during the Spring '07 term at Maryland.
- Spring '07