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Lecture

Introduction (Lecture Schemata 1)

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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHIL 1200
Professor
David Matheson
Semester
Winter

Description
1     Introduction     "Meaning  of  life":  The  general  concept     Why  thinking  about  the  meaning  of  life  matters     The  Nihilist’s  Worry     Responses  to  the  Nihilist's  Worry:  General  perspectives  on  the  meaning  of  life       Nihilism       Affirmationism         Transcendentalism         Immanentism     The  phrase  "meaning  of  life"  ("the  meaning  of  life,"  "meaning  to  life"-­‐-­‐we'll  treat  these  as   synonymous)  is  used  in  various  ways.       Sometimes  people  use  it  to  talk  about  life  in  general  (including  the  lives  of  plants  and   nonhuman  animals);  at  other  times  they  use  it  to  talk  about  human  life  in  particular.     Sometimes  people  use  it  to  designate  a  religious  notion  (viz.,  that  of  a  divine  plan  or  goal  or   purpose  for  our  lives),  but  sometimes  they  use  it  to  designate  nothing  essentially  religious   at  all  (e.g.,  goals  or  purposes  in  life  that  we  ourselves  adopt).       Sometimes  people  use  it  to  raise  a  factual  issue  (e.g.,  what  the  origins  of  life  are,  how  life  in   fact  emerged  in  the  universe,  what  the  ultimate  destiny  of  life  will  be,  whether  there  will   come  a  point  in  the  future  when  all  life  is  snuffed  out  by  hostile  conditions  of  the  universe),   whereas  sometimes  people  use  it  to  raise  an  evaluative  issue  (e.g.,  what,  if  anything,  makes   life  worth  living,  what  makes  life  a  good  thing).     In  this  course,  we'll  use  the  phrase  to  designate  an  evaluative  concern  about  human  life  in   particular.  And  we'll  leave  it  open  whether  this  concern  is  to  be  connected  to  any  sort  of   religious  notion.  (As  we'll  see,  some  perspectives  on  the  meaning  of  life  we'll  consider  think   it  should  be,  but  others  don't.)     Thus,  the  general  concept  of  the  meaning  of  life  we  will  be  thinking  about  in  this  course  can   be  put  as  follows:     Meaning  of  life:  ____________________________________________________________________________________     ________________________________________________________________________________________________________.     To  say  that  human  life  (whether  a  particular  human  being's  life,  or  human  life  in  general)  is   worth  living  is  basically  to  say  that  it's  better  for  it  to  be  lived  than  not  lived.     Why  does  thinking  about  the  meaning  of  life  matter?  Here  are  three  reasons:     Introducing  philosophy:  Since  it  touches  on  various  topics  of  philosophical  interest,  it   provides  a  nice  introduction  to  issues  in  the  different  branches  of  philosophy,  e.g.,  issues   2   pertaining  to  the  nature  of  reality  (metaphysics),  to  the  nature  of  knowledge  and  rational   belief  (epistemology),  to  the  nature  of  morality  (ethics),  and  more.     Avoiding  narrowmindedness:  By  opening  up  your  mind  to  various  perspectives  on  the   meaning  of  life,  it  can  help  you  avoid  inappropriately  narrow  views  about  the  meaning  of   life  (e.g.,  by  partisans  who  claim  that  their  perspective  on  the  meaning  of  life  is  the  only   possible  one).     Appreciating  life:  By  acquainting  you  with  various  possibilities  as  to  what  makes  human   life  worthwhile,  it  can  help  you  appreciate  the  value  of  your  own  life  even  more-­‐-­‐even,   perhaps,  when  life  throws  difficult  situations  your  way.     To  introduce  the  main  types  of  perspective  on  the  meaning  of  life  we'll  be  c
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