Meaningfulness and Time


Authors
Antti Kauppinen
University of Helsinki
Abstract
(Pdf updated to final, slightly revised version of November 2010) Almost everyone would prefer to lead a meaningful life. But what is meaning in life and what makes a life meaningful? I argue, first, for a new analysis of the concept of meaningfulness in terms of the appropriateness of feelings of fulfilment and admiration. Second, I argue that while the best current conceptions of meaningfulness, such as Susan Wolf’s view that in a meaningful life ‘subjective attraction meets objective attractiveness’, do a fairly good job capturing meaningfulness at a time, we need an account that makes sense of the intimate connection between meaningfulness and having a direction in one’s life. According to the Teleological View I propose, what makes a single chapter of a life most meaningful is success in reaching central, objectively valuable goals as a result of exercising essential human capacities. Life as a whole is most meaningful when past efforts increase the success of future goal-setting, goal-seeking, and goal-reaching, so that the life forms a coherent whole without being dedicated to a single aim. Since coherence in this sense is a holistic property of a life, global prudential value is not a function of local prudential values. I suggest that just as pleasure is the final good of human beings as subjects of experience, meaningfulness is the final good of human beings as active agents.
Keywords meaningfulness  well-being  prudential value  hedonism  happiness
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DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2010.00490.x
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References found in this work BETA

The Meaning of Life.John Kekes - 2000 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 24 (1):17–34.

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Citations of this work BETA

Consequentialism About Meaning in Life.Ben Bramble - 2015 - Utilitas 27 (4):445-459.
Meaning in the Lives of Humans and Other Animals.Duncan Purves & Nicolas Delon - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (2):317-338.
What's So Great About Experience?Antti Kauppinen - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (2):371-388.
Meaning in Life: In Defense of the Hybrid View.Daan Evers & Gerlinde van Smeden - 2016 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 54 (3):355-371.

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