The point of psychotherapy has occasionally been associated with talk of ‘life’s meaning’. However, the literature on meaning in life written by contemporary philosophers has yet to be systematically applied to literature on the point of psychotherapy. My broad aim in this chapter is to indicate some plausible ways to merge these two tracks of material that have run in parallel up to now. More specifically, my hunch is that the connection between meaning as philosophers (...) understand it and therapy as psychotherapists ought to practice it is much closer than is suggested by the field of existential psychotherapy, which expressly addresses the topic of life’s meaning and appeals to ideas from classic philosophers such Søren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, and the like. I instead proffer the claim that psychodynamic and humanistic therapy, clinical psychology, and counselling psychology as such, not a particular branch of them, are best understood as enterprises in search of meaning in life, in the way many present-day philosophers understand this phrase. In this chapter, I spell out what I mean by this bold hypothesis and provide some good reason to take it seriously. (shrink)
Part of a special Issue on Robert Trivers’ The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self‐Deception in Human Life, with some focus on the implication of self-deception and related mental states for meaning in life.
The emergent new science of synthetic biology is challenging entrenched distinctions between, amongst others, life and non-life, the natural and the artificial, the evolved and the designed, and even the material and the informational. Whenever such culturally sanctioned boundaries are breached, researchers are inevitably accused of playing God or treading in Frankenstein’s footsteps. Bioethicists, theologians and editors of scientific journals feel obliged to provide an authoritative answer to the ambiguous question of the ‘meaning’ of life, both (...) as a scientific definition and as an explication with wider existential connotations. This article analyses the arguments mooted in the emerging societal debates on synthetic biology and the way its practitioners respond to criticism, mostly by assuming a defiant posture or professing humility. It explores the relationship between the ‘playing God’ theme and the Frankenstein motif and examines the doctrinal status of the ‘playing God’ argument. One particularly interesting finding is that liberal theologians generally deny the religious character of the ‘playing God’ argument—a response which fits in with the curious fact that this argument is used mainly by secular organizations. Synthetic biology, it is therefore maintained, does not offend so much the God of the Bible as a deified Nature. While syntheses of artificial life forms cause some vague uneasiness that life may lose its special meaning, most concerns turn out to be narrowly anthropocentric. As long as synthetic biology creates only new microbial life and does not directly affect human life, it will in all likelihood be considered acceptable. (shrink)
On old age that steals on us fast -- Spiritual development -- The search for happiness -- Meaningful living according to logotherapy -- Guiding principles of logotherapy -- The courage to be authentic : philosophical sources of logotherapy -- The concept of meaning in religion and literature -- Life as a task -- On fate and meaningful living -- Despair as mortal illness in aging -- The gifts of the Gods : sources for discovering meaning in (...) class='Hi'>life -- The importance of humor and laughter in old age -- Dealing with guilt and remorse -- Coping with loneliness -- A logotherapeutic perspective on death. (shrink)
I defend the theory that one's life is meaningful to the extent that one promotes the good. Call this the good cause account (GCA) of the meaning of life. It holds that the good effects that count towards the meaning of one's life need not be intentional. Nor must one be aware of the effects. Nor does it matter whether the same good would have resulted if one had not existed. What matters is that one (...) is causally responsible for the good. I argue that the best theory of the meaning of life should clearly distinguish between subjective fulfillment and objective meaningfulness. The GCA respects the distinction. And it is superior to its leading rivals in the recent literature, most notably those of Erik Wielenberg and Susan Wolf. (shrink)
It’s a Wonderful Life (Capra, 1946) presents a plausible theory of the meaning of life: One's life is meaningful to the extent that it promotes the good. Although this theory is credible, the movie suggests a problematic refinement in the Pottersville sequence. George's waking nightmare asks us to compare the actual world with a world where he did not exist. It tells us that we are only responsible for the good that would not exist had we (...) not existed. I argue that this is a bad test. It fails when there are redundant causes. (shrink)
What makes a person's life meaningful? Thaddeus Metz offers a new answer to an ancient question which has recently returned to the philosophical agenda. He proceeds by examining what, if anything, all the conditions that make a life meaningful have in common. The outcome of this process is a philosophical theory of meaning in life. He starts by evaluating existing theories in terms of the classic triad of the good, the true, and the beautiful. He considers (...) whether meaning in life might be about such principles as fulfilling God's purpose, obtaining reward in an afterlife for having been virtuous, being attracted to what merits attraction, leaving the world a better place, connecting to organic unity, or transcending oneself by connecting to what is extensive. He argues that no extant principle satisfactorily accounts for the three-fold significance of morality, enquiry, and creativity, and that the most promising theory is a fresh one according to which meaning in life is a matter of intelligence contoured toward fundamental conditions of human existence. (shrink)
In a recent article Gary Watson instructively distinguishes two faces or aspects of responsibility. The first is the self-disclosing sense, which is concerned centrally with aretaic or excellence-relevant evaluations of agents. An agent is responsible for an action in this respect when it is an action that is inescapably the agent’s own, if, as a declaration of her adopted ends, it expresses what the agent is about, her identity as an agent. An action for which the agent is responsible in (...) this sense expresses what the agent is ready to stand up for, to defend, to affirm, to answer for. (1996: 233-4) . The second face of responsibility has perhaps had a more explicit role in debates about free will — it concerns control and accountability. Watson argues that when one is skeptical about the second "accountability" face, one need not also be skeptical about responsibility as self-disclosure. I agree, and in my view, this helps us see why maintaining that determinism precludes accountability need not also commit one to the view that determinism precludes responsibility in a way that threatens meaning in life. Part of the reason for this is that when responsibility as accountability is undermined, less of what we deem valuable needs to be relinquished than often believed. But in addition, it turns out that the kind of accountability precluded by determinism is not nearly as important to what is most significant in human life as is responsibility as self-disclosure. Indeed, it may be that an unfortunate fusing of these two notions underlies the concern that if determinism imperils accountability, it also threatens what most fundamentally makes our lives meaningful. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
Susan Wolf, Meaning in Life and Why it Matters Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s10677-011-9321-8 Authors Simon Derpmann, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Philosophisches Seminar, Domplatz 23, 48143 Münster, Germany Journal Ethical Theory and Moral Practice Online ISSN 1572-8447 Print ISSN 1386-2820.
Thomas Nagel contends that the actual philosophical problem in the meaning of life is the independent world we live in, and only requires a self-transcendent being who glimpses an independent world. I argue that Nagel is mistaken to think that self-transcendence evokes the same anxiety for humans living in the world of Dante as Darwin. Nagel’s view from nowhere is rather a modem version of the world. Secondly, while I concede that there is a common anxiety felt by (...) self-transcendence in glimpsing an independent objective world, we also view that world through a set of beliefs that conditions how we see that world. (shrink)
In this article I survey philosophical literature on the topic of what, if anything, makes a person’s life meaningful, focusing on systematic texts that are written in English and that have appeared in the last five years (2002-2007). My aims are to present overviews of the most important, fresh, Anglo-American positions on meaning in life and to raise critical questions about them worth answering in future work.
It has often been thought, and has recently been argued, that one of the most profound impacts of Darwin's theory of evolution is the threat that it poses to the very possibility of living a meaningful, and therefore worthwhile, life. Three attempts to ground the possibility of a meaningful life are considered. The first two are compatible with an exclusively Darwinian worldview. One is based on the belief that Darwinian evolution is, in some sense, progressive; the other is (...) based on the belief that the natural world is a thing of value and hence, that our lives are lived in the presence of value. The third is based on a belief in providence, and holds that we must transcend the exclusively Darwinian worldview if we are to find meaning. All three are, for different reasons, rejected. The conclusion reached is that, contrary to what has often been thought and recently argued, the impact of Darwin's theory is precisely to liberate us to lead the most meaningful of lives. (shrink)
Abstract In discussing the meaning of life in the Bhagavad Git? two obvious questions arise: first, what is the meaning of ?the meaning of life'?, and second, how does that meaning apply to the Bhagavad Git?? In Part I of this brief paper I will attempt to answer the first question by focusing on one of the common meanings of that phrase; in Part II, I will apply that very common meaning to the (...) Bhagavad Git?; and in the third and final part, I will point to a puzzle, the paradox of the jivanmukta, that would seem to follow from the discussion in the first two parts of this paper. My own feeling is that the concept of ?the meaning of life? is a Western invention . This being so, perhaps it would be wise to probe for that concept and its meaning among Western authors. We turn first, then, to one ancient writer, Aristotle of Stagira, and conclude Part I with a modern writer also concerned with the meaning of life, Albert Camus. (shrink)
The goal of “(modern) Chinese Philosophy” established during the period of the May 4th Movement is to reestablish the meaning of life for Chinese people. However, because it takes the approach of interpreting Chinese thinking through a Western lens, thus forming a discourse pattern of “Chinese A is Western B,” which is only capable of manifesting Western culture, “Chinese Philosophy” is made logically impossible as the ideological source from which modern Chinese thinkers could construct the meaning of (...)life. The ideological source of the still lasting traditional lifestyle is Yili Xue 义理学 (The Learning of Righteousness and Principles); whereas that of modern life, which was established as an imitation of the West, is Western culture. Neither of them takes “Chinese Philosophy” as its ideological source. Therefore, “Chinese Philosophy” is excluded from the construction of the meaning of life, and falls into the dilemma of lifemeaning. (shrink)
So-called downshifters seek more meaningful lives by decreasing the amount of time they devote to work, leaving more time for the valuable goods of friendship, family and personal development. But though these are indeed meaning-conferring activities, they do not have the right structure to count as superlatively meaningful. Only in work – of a certain kind – can superlative meaning be found. It is by active engagements in projects, which are activities of the right structure, dedicated to the (...) achievement of goods beyond ourselves, that we make our lives superlatively meaningful. (shrink)
When people suffer they always suffer as a whole human being. The emotional, cognitive and spiritual suffering of human beings cannot be completely separated from all other kinds of suffering, such as from harmful natural, ecological, political, economic and social conditions. In reality they interact with each other and influence each other. Human beings do not only suffer from somatic illnesses, physical pain, and the lack of decent opportunities to satisfy their basic vital, social and emotional needs. They also suffer (...) when they are not able to experience and grasp any meaning of life even if such suffering is not quite as obvious as most forms of physical, social and emotional suffering. Suffering from the lack for the sense of the meaning of life is a special form of emotional, cognitive, and spiritual suffering. Although all human beings share the same basic human need for some meaning of life, the fulfilment of this need is highly individual and personal. Although all forms of human suffering can be a challenge to the meaning of life, the personal conditions of suffering usually are a stronger challenge for the meaning of life. Among the personal conditions of human suffering, the Grenzsituationen cannot be cancelled or raised at all, but only accepted and coped with as existential aspects of the conditio humana. According to Karl Jaspers these are: death, suffering, struggling, guilt, and failing. The challenge for human beings to cope with these Grenzsituationen is a way to move from the mere Being-there to true human Existence. (shrink)
There is an apparent tension between two familiar platitudes about the meaning of life: (i) that 'meaning' in this context means 'value', and (ii) that such meaning might be ineffable. I suggest a way of trying to bring these two claims together by focusing on an ideal of a meaningful life that fuses both the axiological and semantic senses of 'significant'. This in turn allows for the possibility that the full significance of a life (...) might be ineffable not because its axiological significance is ineffable, but because its semantic significance is ineffable in virtue of the signification relation itself being unsignifiable. I then explore to what degree this claim about signification can be adequately defended. (shrink)
In parts of his Notebooks, Tractatus and in “Lecture on Ethics”, Wittgenstein advanced a new approach to the problems of the meaning of life. It was developed as a reaction to the explorations on this theme by Bertrand Russell. Wittgenstein’s objective was to treat it with a higher degree of exactness. The present paper shows that he reached exactness by treating themes of philosophical anthropology using the formal method of topology.
The evolution of life on Earth has produced an organism that is beginning to model and understand its own evolution and the possible future evolution of life in the universe. These models and associated evidence show that evolution on Earth has a trajectory. The scale over which living processes are organized cooperatively has increased progressively, as has its evolvability. Recent theoretical advances raise the possibility that this trajectory is itself part of a wider developmental process. According to these (...) theories, the developmental process has been shaped by a yet larger evolutionary dynamic that involves the reproduction of universes. This evolutionary dynamic has tuned the key parameters of the universe to increase the likelihood that life will emerge and produce outcomes that are successful in the larger process (e.g. a key outcome may be to produce life and intelligence that intentionally reproduces the universe and tunes the parameters of ‘offspring’ universes). Theory suggests that when life emerges on a planet, it moves along this trajectory of its own accord. However, at a particular point evolution will continue to advance only if organisms emerge that decide to advance the developmental process intentionally. The organisms must be prepared to make this commitment even though the ultimate nature and destination of the process is uncertain, and may forever remain unknown. Organisms that complete this transition to intentional evolution will drive the further development of life and intelligence in the universe. Humanity’s increasing understanding of the evolution of life in the universe is rapidly bringing it to the threshold of this major evolutionary transition. (shrink)
Naturalist theories of the meaning of life are sometimes criticised for not setting the bar high enough for what counts as a meaningful life. Tolstoy’s version of this criticism is that Naturalist theories do not describe really meaningful lives because they do not require that we connect our finite lives with the infinite. Another criticism of Naturalist theories is that they cannot adequately resolve the Absurd—the vast difference between how meaningful our actions and lives appear from subjective (...) and objective viewpoints. This article proposes a novel view, Optimistic Naturalism, in order to refute these criticisms. Optimistic Naturalism is the view that scientific and technological advancement might allow us to lead Truly Meaningful lives in a purely physical universe by enabling our actions, which we find meaningful partly because they might have particular infinite consequences, to actually have infinite consequences for life. The central tenets of Optimistic Naturalism are Infinite Consequence and Scientific Optimism. By explaining how the correct connection of the subjective and objective meaning of actions can result in True Meaning, Infinite Consequence provides a theoretical blueprint for resolving the Absurd. Scientific Optimism provides reason to think that it is possible to follow that blueprint in a purely physical universe. Therefore, when taken together, these two principles provide relatively plausible reasons to think that at least one kind of Naturalist theory can connect the finite with the infinite in a meaningful way and resolve the Absurd. (shrink)
The phrase "the meaning of life" for many seems a quaint notion fit for satirical mauling by Monty Python or Douglas Adams. But in this spirited, stimulating, and quirky enquiry, famed critic Terry Eagleton takes a serious if often amusing look at the question and offers his own surprising answer. Eagleton first examines how centuries of thinkers and writers--from Marx and Schopenhauer to Shakespeare, Sartre, and Beckett--have responded to the ultimate question of meaning. He suggests, however, that (...) it is only in modern times that the question has become problematic. But instead of tackling it head-on, many of us cope with the feelings of meaninglessness in our lives by filling them with everything from football to sex, Kabbala, Scientology, "New Age softheadedness," or fundamentalism. On the other hand, Eagleton notes, many educated people believe that life is an evolutionary accident that has no intrinsic meaning. If our lives have meaning, it is something with which we manage to invest them, not something with which they come ready made. Eagleton probes this view of meaning as a kind of private enterprise, and concludes that it fails to holds up. He argues instead that the meaning of life is not a solution to a problem, but a matter of living in a certain way. It is not metaphysical but ethical. It is not something separate from life, but what makes it worth living--that is, a certain quality, depth, abundance and intensity of life. Here then is a brilliant discussion of the problem of meaning by a leading thinker, who writes with a light and often irreverent touch, but with a very serious end in mind. "If you were to ask what provides some meaning in life nowadays for a great many people, especially men, you could do worse than reply 'football.' Not many of them perhaps would be willing to admit as much; but sport stands in for all those noble causes--religious faith, national sovereignty, personal honor, ethnic identity--for which, over the centuries, people have been prepared to go to their deaths. It is sport, not religion, which is now the opium of the people.". (shrink)
What is the meaning of life? It is a question that has intrigued the great philosophers--and has been hilariously lampooned by Monty Python. Indeed, the whole idea strikes many of us as vaguely pompous, a little absurd. Is there one profound and mysterious meaning to life, a single ultimate purpose behind human existence? In What's It All About?, Julian Baggini says no, there is no single meaning. Instead, Baggini argues meaning can be found in (...) a variety of ways, in this life. He succinctly breaks down six answers people commonly suggest when considering what life is all about--helping others, serving humanity, being happy, becoming successful, enjoying each day as if it were your last, and "freeing your mind." By reducing the vague, mysterious question of meaning to a series of more specific (if thoroughly unmysterious) questions about what gives life purpose and value, he shows that the quest for meaning can be personal, empowering, and uplifting. If the meaning of life is not a mystery, if leading meaningful lives is within the power of us all, then we can look around us and see the many ways in which life can have purpose. We can see the value of happiness while accepting it is not everything. We can see the value of success, without interpreting that too narrowly. We can see the value of seizing the day as well as helping others lead meaningful lives. We can recognize the value of love, as perhaps the most powerful motivator of all. Illustrating his argument with the thoughts of many of the great philosophers and examples drawn from everyday life, Baggini convincingly shows that the search for meaning is personal and within the power of each of us to find. (shrink)
The question "What is the meaning of life?" is one of the most fascinating, oldest and most difficult questions human beings have ever posed themselves. Often linked to the religious issue of whether we are part of a larger, divine scheme, even in an increasingly secularized culture it remains a question to which we are ineluctably and powerfully drawn. In this acute and thoughtful book, John Cottingham asks why the question vexes us so much and assesses some of (...) the most influential attempts to explain it. John Cottingham examines the view, widely held within science, especially since Darwin, that the cosmos is devoid of value and meaning. He asks what is involved in the "disenchantment" of the natural world by science, and argues that, properly understood, modern cosmology and evolutionary theory need not foreclose the possibility of ultimate meaning. He reflects on the paradox that the very impermanence and fragility of the human condition may lend support to the quest for a "spiritual" dimension of meaning. Drawing on the history of philosophy, he also ponders the costs of insisting that any path to meaning must be a narrowly rational one, and he argues that our human need for meaning may properly be approached by drawing on shared traditions of practice, such as social ceremonies and rites of passage, whose value cannot be analyzed in purely intellectual terms. (shrink)
What is the meaning of life? In the post-modern, post-religious scientific world, this question is becoming a preoccupation. But it also has a long history: many major figures in philosophy had something to say on the subject. This book begins with an historical overview of philosophers from Plato to Hegel and Marx who have believed in some sort of meaning of life, either in some supposed "other" world or in the future of this world. Young goes (...) on to look at what happened when the traditional structures that provided life with meaning ceased to be believed. (shrink)
The phrase "the meaning of life" for many seems a quaint notion fit for satirical mauling by Monty Python or Douglas Adams. But in this spirited Very Short Introduction, famed critic Terry Eagleton takes a serious if often amusing look at the question and offers his own surprising answer. Eagleton first examines how centuries of thinkers and writers--from Marx and Schopenhauer to Shakespeare, Sartre, and Beckett--have responded to the ultimate question of meaning. He suggests, however, that it (...) is only in modern times that the question has become problematic. But instead of tackling it head-on, many of us cope with the feelings of meaninglessness in our lives by filling them with everything from football to sex, Kabbala, Scientology, "New Age softheadedness," or fundamentalism. On the other hand, Eagleton notes, many educated people believe that life is an evolutionary accident that has no intrinsic meaning. If our lives have meaning, it is something with which we manage to invest them, not something with which they come ready made. Eagleton probes this view of meaning as a kind of private enterprise, and concludes that it fails to holds up. He argues instead that the meaning of life is not a solution to a problem, but a matter of living in a certain way. It is not metaphysical but ethical. It is not something separate from life, but what makes it worth living--that is, a certain quality, depth, abundance and intensity of life. Here then is a brilliant discussion of the problem of meaning by a leading thinker, who writes with a light and often irreverent touch, but with a very serious end in mind. (shrink)
Part of Robert Kane’s response to the contemporary cultural condition of pluralism is to attempt to ground morality in the _search_ for wisdom about how to live. With regard to the right, Kane argues, roughly, that a new principle capturing what all morally permissible actions have in common warrants belief on the part of all inquirers, even in the face of reasonable uncertainty, because it is justified as an essential means to ascertaining wisdom. Upon embarking for wisdom, one quickly discovers (...) an important chunk of it about right action, namely, that wisdom will not be found unless one treats others in a particular kind of way. Although, as I discuss, this rationale has some similarities with transcendental arguments to be found in the literature, it is novel and merits careful attention from meta-ethicists. In this critical notice, I focus largely on Kane’s interesting justification of a principle of right action, paying somewhat less attention to the content of this principle, which is akin to Kant’s Formula of Humanity, and the not-merely-mental account of the good that Kane also advances; however, these elements of Kane’s intricate worldview about how to live should also be of interest to normative ethicists. (shrink)
Opponents of voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide often maintain that the procedures ought not to be accepted because ending an innocent human life would both be morally wrong in itself and have unfortunate consequences. A gravely suffering patient can grant that ending his life would involve such harm but still insist that he would have reason to continue living only if there were something to him in his abstaining from ending his life. Though relatively rarely, the notion (...) of meaning of life has figured in recent medical ethical debate on voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. And in current philosophical discussion on meaning of life outside the medical ethical debate on voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide several authors have argued that being moral and having a meaningful existence are connected to each other. In this article, I assess whether his intentionally refraining from causing the harm related to voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide would involve something to such a patient in the sense that it would promote the meaningfulness of his life. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss the view, put forward by several people from Aristotle to Russell, that knowledge is the ultimate purpose and meaning of human life, and I find it wanting. I also argue that all attempts to show that human life has a meaning from an external and higher point of view have been unsuccessful, human life having a meaning only from an internal point of view. I discuss such meaning and (...) argue that, while knowledge is not the ultimate purpose and meaning of human life, it is a precondition of its meaning from an internal point of view. (shrink)
I seek to step back from the discussion of what it is that confers meaning and concentrate rather on the issue of our reasons to search for meaning. I seek to show that we always have reason to search for meaning, and that this is the case even if we are in a crisis that has rendered us ignorant of what it is that could make the rest of our life worthwhile. Consider: even if presented with (...) an argument that has mean- inglessness as its conclusion, one always has reason to investigate either the premises or the validity of the argument. (shrink)
Van den Belt recently examined the notion that synthetic biology and the creation of ‘artificial’ organisms are examples of scientists ‘playing God’. Here I respond to some of the issues he raises, including some of his comments on my previous discussions of the value of the term ‘life’ as a scientific concept.
The aim of this contribution is to critically examine the metaphysical presuppositions that prevail in (Stewart in Found Sci 15(4):395–409, 2010a ) answer to the question “are we in the midst of a developmental process?” as expressed in his statement “that humanity has discovered the trajectory of past evolution and can see how it is likely to continue in the future”.
In liberal political theory, meaningful work is conceptualised as a preference in the market. Although this strategy avoids transgressing liberal neutrality, the subsequent constraint upon state intervention aimed at promoting the social and economic conditions for widespread meaningful work is normatively unsatisfactory. Instead, meaningful work can be understood to be a fundamental human need, which all persons require in order to satisfy their inescapable interests in freedom, autonomy, and dignity. To overcome the inadequate treatment of meaningful work by liberal political (...) theory, I situate the good of meaningful work within a liberal perfectionist framework, from which standpoint I develop a normative justification for making meaningful work the object of political action. To understand the content of meaningful work, I make use of Susan Wolf’s distinct value of meaningfulness, in which she brings together the dimensions of objectivity and subjectivity into the ‘bipartite value’ of meaningfulness (BVM) (Wolf, Meaning in life and why it matters, 2010). However, in order to be able to incorporate the BVM into our lives, we must become valuers, that is, co-creators of values and meanings. This demands that we acquire the relevant capabilities and status as co-authorities in the realm of value. I conclude that meaningful work is of first importance because it is a fundamental human need, and that society ought to be arranged to allow as many people as possible to experience their work as meaningful through the development of the relevant capabilities. (shrink)
What is reductionism? -- Who is reading the book of life? -- Genetics : from grammar to meaning making -- A point for thought : why are organisms irreducible? -- A point for thought : does the genetic system include a meta-language? -- Immunology : from soldiers to housewives -- A point for thought : immune specificity and Brancusi's kiss -- A point for thought : reflections on the immune self -- Meaning making in language and biology (...) -- A point for thought : meaning : bridging the gap between physics and semantics -- The rest is silence -- The polysemy of the sign : a quantum lesson -- Recursive-hierarchy : a lesson from the tardigrade -- Context and memory : a lesson from funes the memorious -- Transgradience : a lesson from Bakhtin -- The poetry of living. (shrink)
[Adapted from the book's back-cover:] -/- This is the ‘philosophy and. .’ book that really needed to be written – because it is about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. For (to paraphrase the great man himself) Hitchhiker’s is not above a little philosophy in the same way that the sea is not above the sky. Moreover: this edited collection tries hard to combine accessibility – and some humour – with rigour. The book contains an introduction, nine chapters (all originally (...) unpublished, save one that has been reworked for the volume), a glossary, and multiple indexes. Topics covered include the meaning of life (and ‘42’), vegetarianism, the ethics of entertainment, artificial intelligence, parallel universes, God, and philosophical method. (shrink)