PHIL 1100 Lecture Notes - Robert Nozick, Thanatology, Teleology
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Philosophy and the Meaning of Life – Robert Nozick
- deals with the idea that even if God exists, and God has a purpose for us, how does this provide
- would any and every role be able to provide meaning to our life?
- No; playing some role in God’s plan is insufficient, we need to play a central/important one
- the role should be positive
- even if our role was to act as a bad rolemodel, we expect our role to focus on aspects that we
prize and are proud of
- 2 ways we can be included in God’s plan
- 1) we must act in a certain way to fulfill role
- 2) role may not depend on actions/choice at all (we are just willy nilly)
- argues that just because we serve role in God’s plan, does not mean we have meaning in life
- if ^ this were true, we can find meaning by fitting into anyones’ plan
- argues once you find ur life is meaningless, there is little one can do
- in order to provide meaning for another by providing them a role in your plan, it is not enough. The
plan itself must have meaning independently of its purpose to provide another with meaning.
- take ^ idea, and ask what is it about God’s plan that is meaningful all on its own?
- no simple one line answer to MOL
- does think MOL is legitimate question capable of legitimate answer
- answer requires a lot of analysis with no simple formula
- criticism: question is so big, that you need go beyond philosophical answer
- “different senses and kinds of meaning”
more meanings of “meaning” than Wisdom gave us
Meanings of Life
1. External causal relationship
- causal antecedent (something that causes something ex. our ancestry for myself to
- causal concomitant (something that goes in a causal way)
- causal consequent (something that comes after a causal sense)
2. External Referential/Semantic meaning
- synonymy (two words might mean same thing: ex. 2 peoples live might mean same thing)
- reference (referential meaning, referring to someone/something)
- symbolism ( ex. white flag for surrender)
- life can have semantic meaning if its refers to objective property of that life (ex. Terry Fox, his
objective property is a symbol of hope and courage)
- someone else can have intent/purpose in your life (in anothers life)
- ex. parents who have children for a purpose such as for them to take over family business
- We can ourselves assign a specific purpose to our own life
- ^Can and how do we do that?
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