God and the Meaning of Life – Thaddeus Metz

Cambridge University Press has just published a 62-page book by my friend Thaddeus Metz: God, Soul and the Meaning of Life.  It is part of the Cambridge Elements series which provides concise introductions to many academic topics in the arts and sciences. Here is the description of the book from its back cover:

This Element critically explores the potential relevance of God or a soul for life’s meaning as discussed in recent Anglo-American philosophical literature. There have been four broad views: God or a soul is necessary for meaning in our lives; neither is necessary for it; one or both would greatly enhance the meaning in our lives; one or both would substantially detract from it. This Element familiarizes readers with all four positions, paying particular attention to the latter two …

The binary views that meaning completely depends or doesn’t depend at all on a God or soul are familiar to many. Fewer are familiar with more recent views such as 1) the view among supernaturalists that meaning in life isn’t impossible without a God or soul but the existence of one or more of them greatly enhances meaning; or 2) the view that a God or soul would actually detract from life’s meaning. Professor Metz isn’t defending any specific conclusion in this work; rather he aims to contribute to the discussion by clarifying the issues involved.

Thaddeus Metz is Humanities Research Professor at the University of Johannesburg. He is the author of around one hundred professional journal articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries, on a variety of topics in ethical, political, and legal philosophy. He is also one of the foremost scholars today on the topic of the meaning of life. (His major works on this topic include Meaning in Life (Oxford); Exploring the Meaning of Life: An Anthology and Guide (Wiley-Blackwell); and the superb entry on the meaning of life in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. His is perhaps the best and most impartial guide to these matters alive today. I highly recommend this work.

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