The Good, the True and the Beautiful: Toward a Unified Account of Great Meaning in Life

Religious Studies 47 (4):389-409 (2011)
Three of the great sources of meaning in life are the good, the true, and the beautiful, and I aim to make headway on the grand Enlightenment project of ascertaining what, if anything, they have in common. Concretely, if we take a (stereotypical) Mother Teresa, Mandela, Darwin, Einstein, Dostoyevsky, and Picasso, what might they share that makes it apt to deem their lives to have truly mattered? I provide reason to doubt two influential answers, noting a common flaw that supernaturalism and consequentialism share. I instead develop their most plausible rival, a naturalist and non-consequentialist account of what enables moral achievement, intellectual reflection, and aesthetic creation to confer great meaning on a person's life, namely, the idea that they do so insofar as a person transcends an aspect of herself in some substantial way. I criticize several self-transcendence theories that contemporary philosophers have advanced, before presenting a new self-transcendence view and defending it as the most promising.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.2307/41348965
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,890
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Thaddeus Metz (2001). The Concept of a Meaningful Life. American Philosophical Quarterly 38 (2):137-153.
Jerrold Levinson (1992). Musical Profundity Misplaced. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 50 (1):58-60.

View all 6 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Aaron Smuts (2013). The Good Cause Account of the Meaning of Life. Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (4):536-562.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

63 ( #52,340 of 1,725,413 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #268,739 of 1,725,413 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.