The Meaning of Life as Narrative: A New Proposal for Interpreting Philosophy’s ‘Primary’ Question

Philo 12 (1):5-23 (2009)

Authors
Joshua Seachris
University of Notre Dame
Abstract
Even if the question, “What is the meaning of life?” is coherent, the fact remains that it is vague. Its vagueness largely centers on the use of the term “meaning.” The most prevalent strategy for addressing this vagueness is to discard the word “meaning” and reformulate the question entirely into questions such as, “What is the purpose of life?” or “What makes life valuable?” among others. This approach has philosophical merit but does not account for the intuitions and sub-questions driving the original question as plausibly as does an interpretation that I call the narrative interpretation. I will argue that the question, “What is the meaning of life?” should be understood as the request for a narrative that narrates across those elements and accompanying questions of life of greatest existential import to human beings.
Keywords Philosophy and Religion
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ISBN(s) 1098-3570
DOI philo20091211
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