Understanding how philosophy comes about and what it means

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Understanding how philosophy comes about and what it means

A large majority of those writing on life's meaning deem talk of it centrally to indicate a positive final value that an individual's life can exhibit.

That is, comparatively few believe either that a meaningful life is a merely neutral quality, or that what is of key interest is the meaning of the human species or universe as a whole for discussions focused on the latter, see Edwards ; Munitz ; Seachris Most in the field have ultimately wanted to know whether and how the existence of one of us over time has meaning, a certain property that is desirable for its own sake.

Beyond drawing the distinction between the life of an individual and that of a whole, there has been very little discussion of life as the logical bearer of meaning. For instance, is the individual's life best understood biologically, qua human being, or instead as the existence of a person that may or may not be human Flanagan ?

Returning to topics on which there is consensus, most writing on meaning believe that it comes in degrees such that some periods of life are more meaningful than others and that some lives as a whole are more meaningful than others perhaps contra Britton Note that one can coherently hold the view that some people's lives are less meaningful than others, or even meaningless, and still maintain that people have an equal moral status.

Consider a consequentialist view according to which each individual counts for one in virtue of having a capacity for a meaningful life cf. Railtonor a Kantian view that says that people have an intrinsic worth in virtue of their capacity for autonomous choices, where meaning is a function of the exercise of this capacity Nozickch.

On both views, morality could counsel an agent to help people with relatively meaningless lives, at least if the condition is not of their choosing. First, to ask whether someone's life is meaningful is not one and the same as asking whether her life is happy or pleasant. A life in an experience or virtual reality machine could conceivably be happy but very few take it to be a prima facie candidate for meaningfulness Nozick Goetzin particular, bites many bullets.

Furthermore, one's life logically could become meaningful precisely by sacrificing one's happiness, e. Second, asking whether a person's existence is significant is not identical to considering whether she has been morally upright; there seem to be ways to enhance meaning that have nothing to do with morality, at least impartially conceived, for instance, making a scientific discovery.

Of course, one might argue that a life would be meaningless if or even because it were unhappy or immoral, particularly given Aristotelian conceptions of these disvalues. My point is that the question of what makes a life meaningful is conceptually distinct from the question of what makes a life happy or moral, even if it turns out that the best answer to the question of meaning appeals to an answer to one of these other evaluative questions.

If talk about meaning in life is not by definition talk about happiness or rightness, then what is it about? There is as yet no consensus in the field. One answer is that a meaningful life is one that by definition has achieved choice-worthy purposes Nielsen or involves satisfaction upon having done so Hepburn ; Wohlgennant However, for such an analysis to clearly demarcate meaningfulness from happiness, it would be useful to modify it to indicate which purposes are germane to the former.

On this score, some suggest that conceptual candidates for grounding meaning are purposes that not only have a positive value, but also render a life coherent Markusmake it intelligible Thomson8—13or transcend animal nature Levy Now, it might be that a focus on any kind of purpose is too narrow for ruling out the logical possibility that meaning could inhere in certain actions, experiences, states, or relationships that have not been adopted as ends and willed and that perhaps even could not be, e.

In addition, the above purpose-based analyses exclude as not being about life's meaning some of the most widely read texts that purport to be about it, namely, Jean-Paul Sartre's existentialist account of meaning being constituted by whatever one chooses, and Richard Taylor'sch.

These are prima facie accounts of meaning in life, but do not essentially involve the attainment of purposes that foster coherence, intelligibility or transcendence. It is implausible to think that these criteria are satisfied by subjectivist appeals to whatever choices one ends up making or to whichever desires happen to be strongest for a given person.

Understanding how philosophy comes about and what it means

In that case, it could be that the field is united in virtue of addressing certain overlapping but not equivalent ideas that have family resemblances Metzch. For instance, the concept of a worthwhile life is probably not identical to that of a meaningful one Baierch.

For instance, one would not be conceptually confused to claim that a meaningless life full of animal pleasures would be worth living. Knowing that meaningfulness analytically concerns a variable and gradient final good in a person's life that is conceptually distinct from happiness, rightness, and worthwhileness provides a certain amount of common ground.

The rest of this discussion addresses attempts to theoretically capture the nature of this good.

Understanding how philosophy comes about and what it means

Supernaturalism Most English speaking philosophers writing on meaning in life are trying to develop and evaluate theories, i. These theories are standardly divided on a metaphysical basis, i.

Supernaturalist theories are views that meaning in life must be constituted by a certain relationship with a spiritual realm.

If God or a soul does not exist, or if they exist but one fails to have the right relationship with them, then supernaturalism—or the Western version of it on which I focus —entails that one's life is meaningless.THE MEANING AND UNDERSTANDING PHILOSOPHY.

Aug 17, | Lifestyle, Opinion. what the word means at all. The subject of psychology, as studied in. When it comes to minds there is only one mind any of us can directly.

observe or experience and that mind is our own. If you want to learn. Getting evidence of understanding means crafting assessments to evoke transferability: finding out if students can take their learning and use it wisely, flexibly, creatively.

Impressionism refers to a technical term in philosophy whereby direct sensory impressions are distinguished from the mind's placing of those impressions into ideas.

When the topic of the meaning of life comes up, people often pose one of two questions: “So, what is the meaning of life?” and “What are you talking about?” The literature can be divided in terms of which question it seeks to answer.

The noun philosophy means the study of proper behavior, and the search for wisdom. The original meaning of the word philosophy comes from the Greek roots philo- meaning "love" and -sophos, or "wisdom.". knowledge of or familiarity with a particular thing; skill in dealing with or handling something: an understanding of accounting practice.

a state of cooperative or mutually tolerant relations between people: To him, understanding and goodwill were the supreme virtues. a mutual agreement, especially of a private, unannounced, or tacit kind: They .

These will include the historical approach, philosophy as criticism, philosophy as the analysis of language, philosophy as a program of change, philosophy as a set of questions and answers, and philosophy as a world-view.

Chapter 1 What is Philosophy - Department of Social Sciences | Emporia State University