The Monist 93 (1):106-122 (2010)

Tim Oakley
La Trobe University
I argue that attempts to give philosophical accounts of meaningfulness in life are largely empty since there is no unitary concept to be analysed, and there are no criteria for what will count as success in that project. I suggest that there is a better prospect for giving an account of meaninglessness in life, and that efforts are more usefully directed at this project. I then offer such an account in which it is proposed that what often (but not always) underlies feelings that life is meaningless is a matter of the person concerned finding nothing worth doing, pursuing or aspiring to; that is, their finding nothing to be of value. The account is then modified and expanded, and is found to usefully explain the phenomena of anhedonia, distress and failure of motivation frequently associated with feelings of meaninglessness. The account is not intended as a conceptual analysis, but as an explanation of what is (often) happening when people find life meaningless. The paper concludes with discussions of what may be said about meaningfulness in the light of the offered account of meaninglessness, and of the distinction between life being felt to be meaningless, and life actually being meaningless.
Keywords meaninglessness in life  meaningfulness in life  loss of value  meaning crisis
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ISBN(s) 0026-9662
DOI 10.5840/monist20109317
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Reconsidering Meaning in Life: A Philosophical Dialogue with Thaddeus Metz.Masahiro Morioka (ed.) - 2015 - Journal of Philosophy of Life, Waseda University.
Joy and the Myopia of Finitude.Brian Treanor - 2016 - Comparative and Continental Philosophy 8 (1):6-25.
If Meaningfulness is Not Always Fulfilling, Why Then Does It Matter?Nicole Note - 2014 - Meta: Research in Hermeneutics, Phenomenology, and Practical Philosophy 6 (2):484-505.

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