The Meaning of Life-Nozick Cont'd

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3 Jan 2012
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Nov 16/11
Continuation from Monday
7. Meaning in an intrinsic form.
8. All meanings together. There is one possible way of having a meaning of life, take all 7
and putting them together
-the next chapter discusses death. He quotes Frankel, whom says its death itself that
makes life meaningful. Death considered to be something positive. Frankel says that if
our life were to go on and on, what would you do? We would continue to postpone
things. Death makes us realize that we only have so much time, time to get meaningful
things done. This guy is not impressed by Frankel’s argument
-he says that all we need is to believe that there is death. Frankel says it is death that
makes like meaningful. N says it’s the fact that we believe that we only have a limited
amount of time. When we believe that, there are certain things that we would want to
accomplish.
-he makes another criticism, you could lead an everlasting life and still have goals. They
would just be a different kind of goals.
-he then gets into theology. He applies Frankel’s point of view to theology. In mainstream
theology, God is either immortal or eternal. God doesn’t die either way.
-according to Frankel, if death makes life meaningful, then God musent be meaningful
-N makes the point that if you think life is what makes life meaningful, you are then
saying that death is in a way good. N doesn’t think that follows.
-he makes an argument from an atomic perspective, everyone at one point did not exist.
This idea doesn’t bother people. If that doesn’t bother you then your future non existence
shouldn’t bother you. We cannot experience non existence, therefore it is irrational to fear
something you cannot possibly experience. (people can fear things that you don’t
experience, for example cancer). He says it is irrational to fear death because it is a state
of non existence.
-there is a form of symmetry about our attitudes. We may ask why do people fear the idea
of death, even if it is considered irrational. N says it is because the past is something
fixed, we think of the future as something that is open. So death therefore extinguishes
the possibilities. We want to endure, rather than die. Death ends this. There is also the
reason of the enormous uncertainty of death.
-he then gets into the idea of leaving something behind. People naturally want to leave
something behind, something like a legacy. For our lives to be meaningful, it is natural to
leave a trace. Not all traces will do. Some are important and some are unimportant. For a
lot of people, the number 1 thing is to have children. N finds it puzzling that people want
to leave children behind.
-the next thing is art. Its often called something of immortality. What motivates artists?
Another kind of trace is tombstones.
-not any trace will do. Atoms will be left behind, but that’s not enough for us. We want
something specific about our individuality.
-why are traces important? A trace might indicate that a persons life had meaning and that
it wasn’t all for nothing. There is a lot to be learned from seniors for example. A trace
would indicate that a persons life had meaning and that they don’t want to be forgotten.
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