Life, meaning of

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L044-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved March 03, 2024, from

Article Summary

This is an obscure yet central topic in philosophy. Often associated with the question whether human beings are part of a larger or divine purpose, the question,‘What is the meaning of life?’ seems to invite a religious answer. Much philosophical discussion, however, questions the necessity of this association. Attention to the inevitability of death has often seemed to make life’s meaning problematic, but it is not obvious how immortality could make the difference between meaning and its absence. The theme of absurdity runs through much discussion of those who believe the universe to be indifferent. Though our lives have no significance, they argue, we must live as if they do. In the face of this absurdity, some advocate suicide, others defiance, others irony. One may also turn away from the issue of cosmic significance, and look for meaning elsewhere.

    Citing this article:
    Wolf, Susan. Life, meaning of, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L044-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
    Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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