Answers To The Question of Life’s Meaning

(reprinted as “Multiple Answers to ‘What is the Meaning of Life’ — are any Satisfactory” in the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, June 5, 2015)

All my life I struggled to stretch my mind to the breaking point, until it began to creak, 
in order to create a great thought which might be able to give a new meaning to life, 
a new meaning to death, and to console mankind. ~ Nikos Kazantzakis

Answers to the question of the meaning of life fall into one of three categories:

  1. Negative (nihilistic) answers—life is meaningless;
    1. Affirmation—it is good that life is meaningless;
    2. Acceptance—it is bad that life is meaningless, but we accept this;
    3. Rejection—it is bad that life is meaningless, and we reject this;
  2. Agnostic (skeptical) answers—we don’t know if  life is meaningful;
    1. The question is unintelligible;
    2. The question is intelligible, but we don’t know if we can answer it;
  3. Positive answers—life is meaningful;
    1. Supernatural (theistic) answers—meaning from transcendent gods;
    2. Natural (non-theistic) answers—meaning created/discovered in natural world
      i.      meaning is objective—discovered or found by individual
      ii.     meaning is subjective—created or invented by individuals.


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