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Meaning of life

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Meaning of life

  1. 1. What is the meaning of life? Monday, 2 December, 13
  2. 2. What is the meaning of life? “Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.” --Albert Camus Monday, 2 December, 13
  3. 3. What is the meaning of life? “The unexamined life is not worth living.” --Socrates Monday, 2 December, 13
  4. 4. Monday, 2 December, 13
  5. 5. What is the meaning of life? “What is the meaning of MY life?” Monday, 2 December, 13
  6. 6. What is the meaning of life? Nihilism Existentialism Monday, 2 December, 13
  7. 7. What is the meaning of life? Nihilists argue that life is meaningless and absurd “We can regard our life as a uselessly disturbing episode in the blissful repose of nothingness... Human existence must be a kind of error.” --Arthur Schopenhauer Monday, 2 December, 13
  8. 8. “Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence. A true nihilist would believe in nothing, have no loyalties, and no purpose other than, perhaps, an impulse to destroy. Monday, 2 December, 13
  9. 9. While few philosophers would claim to be nihilists, nihilism is most often associated with Friedrich Nietzsche who argued that its corrosive effects would eventually destroy all moral, religious, and metaphysical convictions and precipitate the greatest crisis in human history. In the 20th century, nihilistic themes– value destruction and cosmic purposelessness–have preoccupied artists, social critics, and philosophers.” Source: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy Monday, 2 December, 13
  10. 10. Something to think about: Is there anything dangerous about nihilism? Think back to Schopenhauer’s quotation “We can regard our life as a uselessly disturbing episode in the blissful repose of nothingness... Human existence must be a kind of error.” Monday, 2 December, 13
  11. 11. What is the meaning of life? Existentialism: “Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself. Such is the first principle of existentialism.” --Jean Paul Sartre Monday, 2 December, 13
  12. 12. Existentialism Existentialism: philosophical movement that focuses on individual autonomy and making reasoned decisions for oneself. Our being as subjective individuals (our existence) is more important than we have in common objectively with all other human beings (our essence) Monday, 2 December, 13
  13. 13. Existentialism Root word is “existence” The philosophy is based on your existence Monday, 2 December, 13
  14. 14. Famous Existentialists Sartre Kafka Monday, 2 December, 13 de Beauvoir Camus
  15. 15. Existentialism Sartre said people create themselves each moment of every day with the decisions and choices they make. “Existential Angst” Monday, 2 December, 13
  16. 16. Sartre and Atheistic Existentialism Examining life in a world where God does not exist or play a role “God is dead” as Nietzsche, famously said Monday, 2 December, 13
  17. 17. Basic Tenets Existence precedes essence Personal Responsibility Human Condition Monday, 2 December, 13
  18. 18. 1. Existence Precedes Essence Existence precedes essence Contrary to Plato’s idea of forms Born into unknown world with no preset template. Have to define ourselves through our choices Monday, 2 December, 13
  19. 19. 1. Existence Precedes Essence Objects that do not have a consciousness-- tables, chairs, etc., are not aware of their own existence. Their essence is determined before their existence Monday, 2 December, 13
  20. 20. Cookie Cutter Example We are the opposite of a cookie cutter. Cookie cutter idea existed before it was created. Essence before existence. Our existence comes before our essence. We are not made with a plan or design before. We are thrown on the earth randomly and have to make something of ourselves from Day 1. We are what we do. Monday, 2 December, 13
  21. 21. 2. Personal Responsiblity People decide their own fates Would an existentialist believe in free will? We are what we make of ourselves. We are responsible for the choices we make. No template to meaning of life. Monday, 2 December, 13
  22. 22. Leads to despair or “existential angst” Monday, 2 December, 13
  23. 23. Even though we have free will, people are often unaware of it We shy away from it out of fear of the responsibility we have to take for our choices Easier to conform Monday, 2 December, 13
  24. 24. Can’t blame evil deeds on “human nature” because there is no such thing This leads to idea of Existential Guilt: since there is no pre-given legitimation of our existence and we feel a need to justify our existence, there is no one to appeal to to make us feel better about it. We are alone. Monday, 2 December, 13
  25. 25. 3. The Human Condition Subjectivity is the starting point. We start with you, not something off in the world of abstractions. This is where meaning is derived. Existentialists do not believe there is some transcendent reason for our existence, such as a God As Sartre famously put it: We are condemned to be free. Monday, 2 December, 13
  26. 26. 3. The Human Condition This refers to the choices we make throughout our lives which is supposed to give meaning Sartre claimed there was no innate meaning to life, though. But he did not say nothing mattered. That would be a nihilist. So we have to accept the burden of our own choices. Through these choices you contribute to the essence of humanity . Monday, 2 December, 13
  27. 27. A final point about “authenticity Existentialists argue that you have to be true to yourself when making choices rather than acting based on some perceived system of human nature. This does not mean “getting in touch with your inner self” but more about facing your own existence and seizing it by doing something with your life and committing to it, giving your life a focus and commitment. Monday, 2 December, 13
  28. 28. What philosophies on the meaning of life are addressed here? Monday, 2 December, 13

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