Meaningfulness and Time

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (2):345-377 (2012)
  Copy   BIBTEX

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.

Similar books and articles

The Good Cause Account of the Meaning of Life.Aaron Smuts - 2013 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (4):536-562.
Reflecting on the Meaning of Life.Nicole Note - 2009 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 16 (2):22-31.
The Meaning of Life Sub Specie Aeternitatis.Iddo Landau - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (4):727 - 734.
Das Sinnvolle und das Lebenswerte: Zur Klärung ihrer Gemeinsamkeiten und Unterschiede.Thaddeus Metz - 2013 - In Matthias Hoesch, Sebastian Muders & Markus Rüther (eds.), Glück-Werte-Sinn. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 109-25.
Meaningful lives?Christine Vitrano - 2013 - Ratio 26 (1):79-90.
On Luck, Responsibility and the Meaning of Life.Berit Brogaard & Barry Smith - 2005 - Philosophical Papers 34 (3):443-458.
On Luce's theory of meaningfulness.Fred S. Roberts - 1980 - Philosophy of Science 47 (3):424-433.
Happiness and Meaningfulness: Some Key Differences.Thaddeus Metz - 2009 - In Lisa Bortolotti (ed.), Philosophy and Happiness. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 3-20.
Intrinsic value and meaningful life.Robert Audi - 2005 - Philosophical Papers 34 (3):331-355.

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-12-01

Downloads
2,873 (#1,510)

6 months
86 (#11,477)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Antti Kauppinen
University of Helsinki

Citations of this work

Consequentialism about Meaning in Life.Ben Bramble - 2015 - Utilitas 27 (4):445-459.
Meaning and Happiness.Antti Kauppinen - 2013 - Philosophical Topics 41 (1):161-185.
Meaning in the lives of humans and other animals.Duncan Purves & Nicolas Delon - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (2):317-338.
The Significance of a Life’s Shape.Dale Dorsey - 2015 - Ethics 125 (2):303-330.

View all 65 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

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

Add more references