Recent Work on the Meaning of 'Life’s Meaning': Should We Change the Philosophical Discourse?

Human Affairs 29 (4):404-414 (2019)
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In this article I critically discuss English-speaking philosophical literature addressing the question of what it essentially means to speak of 'life’s meaning'. Instead of considering what might in fact confer meaning on life, I make two claims about the more abstract, meta-ethical question of how to understand what by definition is involved in making that sort enquiry. One of my claims is that over the past five years there has been a noticeable trend among philosophers to try to change our understanding of what talk of 'life’s meaning' connotes. For example, whereas most philosophers for a long while had held that such talk is about a kind of value possible in the life of human beings, recently some have argued that certain non-human parts of nature can exhibit meaningfulness, which, furthermore, is not necessarily something valuable. The second claim I advance is that there is strong reason to reject this trend, and instead for philosophers to retain the long-standing approach.

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Thaddeus Metz
University of Pretoria


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