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How to Live a Meaningful Life Tolstoy, Taylor, Frankfurt, Wolf, Rosenberg.

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Presentation on theme: "How to Live a Meaningful Life Tolstoy, Taylor, Frankfurt, Wolf, Rosenberg."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to Live a Meaningful Life Tolstoy, Taylor, Frankfurt, Wolf, Rosenberg

2 Belief in God Desire for union Commitment to religious way of life Subjective elementsObjective elements God exists God personally relates to humans God commands certain behavior 1. TOLSTOY

3 Loving whatever we do – doesnt matter what it is This just makes life subjectively meaningful For example, Sisyphus with drug injected Subjective elementsObjective elements NONE* * Because none of our activities has a significant and lasting result 2. TAYLOR

4 More complicated than Taylor CARE (ch. 1) LOVE (ch. 2) SELF-LOVE (ch. 3) Subjective elementsObjective elements NONE* * See p FRANKFURT

5 Frankfurt on CARE (ch. 1) CARING = wanting X wanting to want X identifying with wanting X MEANING (p. 23)

6 Frankfurt on LOVE (ch. 2) LOVE = disinterested concern – no ulterior motive personal, particular x takes interests of y as his own involuntary not based on intrinsic value gives us sense of intrinsic value & ultimate ends MEANING (p. 65-6)

7 Frankfurt on SELF-LOVE (ch. 3) LOVE FOR OTHER x loves y and x y disinterested concern – no ulterior motive personal, particular x takes interests of y as his own involuntary SELF LOVE x loves y and x = y Same logic?

8 Frankfurt (ch. 3) LOVE FOR OTHERS x loves y and x y x takes interests of y as his own I love Sam Sam loves Jay-Z I love Jay-Z Does this make sense? Do you love whatever the people you love love? SELF LOVE x loves y and x = y x takes interests of y as his own (and x = y) I love myself I love Bob Dylan I love Bob Dylan* *Empty and redundant? Lessons: Must love other things first to love myself Self-love = wholeheartedness

9 Frankfurt on SELF-LOVE (ch. 3) SELF –LOVE I love Bob Dylan I love myself I love Bob Dylan I love other things I love them in a wholehearted, undivided way MEANING (p. 99)

10 CARE – wanting x, wanting to want x, identification LOVE – personal concern for others that gives us sense of their intrinsic value and gives us ultimate ends SELF-LOVE – wholehearted investment in our interests, whatever they are Subjective elementsObjective elements NONE* FRANKFURT ON MEANING

11 Fulfillment … Subjective elementsObjective elements … but it must be fitting meaning arises from loving objects worthy of love and engaging with them in positive ways. (p. 8) meaning arises when subjective attraction meets objective worth. (p. 9) 4. WOLF

12 The objective condition the project or activity must possess a value whose source comes from outside of oneselfwhose value, in other words, is in part independent of ones own attitude to it (p. 37) 1.Value must be received by others too (p. 43) Fails condition: Sisyphus, eating, dieting, working out 2.Value must be perceived by others too (p. 43) Fails condition: Sisyphus, goldfish fanatic

13 Henrietta Lacks Missing subjective fulfillment but not objective worth Missing objective worth but not subjective fulfillment Eating contest champion If your life lacks meaning, it could be for two different reasons

14 Wolf: why does meaning matter? The standard view of morality & self interest: MORALITY CAN CONFLICT WITH SELF-INTEREST keeping a promise vs. going to a movie giving to charity vs. buying a new TV In cases of conflict, morality is overriding (Kant, Utilitarians)

15 Wolfs View MORALITY can conflict with SELF-INTEREST pursuing good lifemere inclinations, urges, desires meaning other aspects (subjective fulfillment plus objective worth) In a morality vs. meaning conflict, meaning sometimes trumps morality. Morality not always overriding. See also: Nietzsche, Frankfurt, Hurka

16 Example. Suppose Jon is trying to decide whether to help Sandy victims or run unofficial NYC marathon. Running has more meaning to him than helping. MORALITYMEANING

17 Objections, comments John Koethe (poet & philosopher) – 1.When should we say an artist has fulfilled the objective worth condition? 2.Does the artist have to be successful? 3.Whats his answer?

18 Objections, comments Robert Adams (philosopher) – 1.Subjective element = just love, not feeling of fulfillment (which implies success). One of the things about positive meaning in life is that one can have it even when ones hopes and projects are not fulfilled and one does not feel good. (p. 78) His example? 2.Her objective condition is really intersubjective not objective 3.Other points in Adams?

19 Objections, comments Nomy Arpaly (philosopher) – 1.Subjective fulfillment is enough. Goldfish nut (if there are any at all) doesnt show need for objective worthproblem is that he is deluded about the nature of goldfish or intellectually limited. 2.Are we ever motivated by desire for meaning? 3.Doesnt morality have some sort of privileged status? 4.What else?

20 Objections, comments Jonathan Haidt (psychologist) 1.No such thing as objective worth 2.Subjective fulfillment involves vital engagement and hive psychology 3.We dont find subjective fulfillment from being goldfish nuts, eating contests, lawnmower racing, etc. 4.What else?

21 How to live a meaningful life Purely subjective views Taylor Frankfurt Subjective/objective views Tolstoy (religious) Wolf (unreligious)

22 Living in accordance with purpose of the universe Subjective elementsObjective elements Universe has a purpose that we can help fulfill 1.Does the universe have such a purpose? 2.Can we tell what it is? 3.If the universe has a purpose, must there be a supreme being? LINK 5. ANOTHER S/O VIEW

23 NONE Subjective elementsObjective elements NONE 6. ROSENBERG NONE Life is completely meaninglessno fulfillment, no objective worth. But dont worry, it doesnt matter! Coming next week.

24 Rosenbergs 8 points 1.Lifes persistent questions have scientific answers. Scientism is my label for what any one who takes science seriously should believe… 2.All the facts about fundamental particles fix all of the other facts. We should trust physics to be scientisms metaphysics

25 Rosenbergs 8 points 3.The are no purposesin biology, in human affairs, and in human thought processes – No cosmic purpose – No purpose of human existence – I have no purposes, no goals* – Wipes out both subjective & objective elements of meaning! * See 6 & 7 too

26 Rosenbergs 8 points 4.Darwinian evolution is the inevitable result of 2 nd Law of Thermodynamics (law of increased entropydisorder, chaos)

27 Rosenbergs 8 points 5.No objective morality Either [a] our core morality is an adaptation because it is the right core morality or [b] its the right core morality because its an adaptation, or [c] its not right, but only feels right to us. Can anyone think of another possibility – [d]?

28 Rosenbergs 8 points 6.We dont understand our own minds or brains. The mind is no more a purpose- driven system than anything else in nature. 7.The brain doesnt have beliefs, wants, thoughts, hopes; there is no meaning of any sort; there is no self, soul, agent, person.

29 Rosenbergs 8 points 8.History has no shape or meaning – were not going anywhere

30 NONE Subjective elementsObjective elements NONE 6. ROSENBERG NONE Taylor, Frankfurt, Wolf … all wrong about subjective elements. Wolf, Tolstoy … wrong about objective elements LIVE HAS NO MEANING, PERIOD!

31 NONE Subjective elementsObjective elements NONE 6. ROSENBERG NONE How can we defend the subjective elements from Rosenbergs attack? How can we defend the objective elements? For more on the subjective elements, see Is Life Meaningless? slides 25-41

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