Philosophers on THE QUESTION

Note: Unfortunately the Philosophy Now web site has introduced subscription-only access to their web site, so you cannot access the web page below – bloody capitalist pigs!

Some valuable ideas are raised in this article, What Is The Meaning Of Life?:

  • internal ‘essence’ versus external ‘imposition’ of meaning*
  • attempts to define an objective ‘good life’
  • meaning as ‘significance’ and positive, creative engagement with the world
  • the necessity of freedom for a life of self-expression and creativity

Tim Bale from London comes up with a truly objective answer:

The meaning of life is not being dead.

Love it! Indeed, the meaning of life corresponds to not being dead; to say life is meaningless is plainly false in this sense. But what can we say of the meaning of life in the positive sense?

When we ask THE QUESTION are we trying to be descriptive of what a typical human, or my life, entails and/or has as its purpose? Or are we trying to be prescriptive, what should you dedicate your life to? My prescription would be that you create your own description, with a few qualifiers from the Existentialists to be sure. Many don’t realise this, but what you seriously believe to be description becomes prescription, since you will come to interpret the world and your purpose through that description.

On the descriptive side, Alex Winter from Queensland considers life as an abstract concept of evolution whose purpose is the pursuit of knowledge. What a neat answer, too neat in my opinion – what about my life and my experiences – I am not an abstract concept only pursuing knowledge? I am getting bored of the insipid reductionism of evolutionists who blindly think their perspective captures all reality. Such perspectives only scratch the surface of reality and can only seek an empire through arrogant close-mindedness.

*If you’re a Catholic  you are more likely to think the former, and if Protestant the latter. Why? For Protestants, the old Catholic (and Aristotelian) notion of entities having essences is seen as a limitation of God’s sovereignty over Creation. This Protestant (and in some regards, Platonic) idea is profoundly nihilistic once God is taken out of the picture. Indeed, it could be argued that Protestantism ‘killed’ God through worship of an idolatrous notion of God as a supremely powerful being negligently detached from his creation. This idol intensified ‘the problem of evil’ and proliferated fatalistic dogmas, which ultimately became untenable to the common man with the waning cultural influence of the Church. It is only through rediscovering panentheistic notions of God in the Biblical texts and appealing to God as the ‘ground of being’ that God can be resurrected as a philosophically credible I AM. The Christian will become Buddhist-like in thinking of God as ‘ultimate reality’.


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