Rambling post alert!
Over at Kieran Setiya’s interesting blog, there is a discussion about the meaning of life. Here’s the link:
Here’s some of what I wrote in an earlier discussion thread, which I
thought I’d reproduce here to stimulate discussion. I raise some
questions after the quoted material.
think I have the concept of a good life, of a life worth living. One of
the main projects in ethics should be to give an account of what makes
a life worth living. (And what makes for a bad life, or a life not
worth living. Think of all the people in the world who have suffered so
terribly that we think that (perhaps) they would have been better off
had they never been born. We have the concept of a bad life as well.)
It seems to me that this concept is connected in interesting and
significant ways with other "moral" or "normative" concepts, such as
the concepts of benefit or harm: one benefits someone when one makes
her life *better* than it was, one harms someone when one makes her
life *worse* than it was before.
The concept of a meaningful
life seems harder to me to grasp than the concept of a good life. Maybe
this is just me, but it seems more elusive. I have a harder time seeing
how the concept of a meaningful life connects up with other moral or
normative concepts in the same way that the concept of a good life
seems to connect.
Maybe one way to help someone like
myself grasp the concept of a meaningful life would be to explain how
this concept relates to other concepts that I antecendently grasp. For
example, how is the concept of a meaningful life different from the
concept of a good life? "
Some related questions: is this the right way to go about answering
the question of what makes a life meaningful? Is the question of what
makes a life meaningful a "psuedo-question"? If so, how do we
establish that this is the case, and why do so many people still ask
it? Why should we care about having a meaningful life? What are
currently the dominant views on what a meaningful life consists in?