The Meaning of Life-Nozick

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3 Jan 2012
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Nov.21/11
Finishing up N from last week
-transcending limits is the last section. He attempts to find meaning which transcends the
limits of human life. A self absorbed life for example is not one that is meaningful. The
narrower the limits, the less meaningful a life is. For a life to have meaning it must
connect with other things. Meaning is relational. What kinds of relations? Why is the self
absorbed life not considered meaningful? Not any kind of relation will do. He emphasizes
two broad directions. He does not say that there are only two, but these are the two he
suggests. There has to be a connection between other people or things. Among personal
relations, loving another brings us beyond ourselves. He says another way is through the
intellectual life. Why? Because you can think about anything.
-his piece seems to be observation based rather than theory based which can be
problematic.
Khan
-a meaningful life is answering the longing for a meaningful life. She relates the topic to
people on their death beds. Looking back and judging whether their lives are meaningful.
You don’t have to be on your death bed to contemplate your death.
-she then brings up paradigms about what are meaningful and meaningless lives in our
culture. She brings up Ghandi, mother Teresa. Lives of moral or intellectual
accomplishment. What about meaningless lives? She doesn’t name any examples but she
gives examples of activities which she considers meaningless. Active engagement in
projects of work are meaningful. In terms of projects of work, it implies the concept of
objective values. One is great moral accomplishments and one is great intellectual
accomplishments. She adds to her scheme, relationship with friends and relatives. She
contrasts these positive examples with negative examples. Things like crosswords will
not satisfy us.-she distinguishes active engagement with no projects of worth. For
example, doing crossword puzzles like crazy. Then you can have the opposite. You can
have a project of worth but a person who is not actively engaged. Like what? Like being
a doctor and helping save lives. An activity of great worth. Meaning arises when
subjective attraction means objective attraction. This statement summarizes her main
view.
-applying this to her examples. Being a doctor. It is objectively attractive. Why? Making
a lot of money, having a lot of spare time. What’s the subjective attraction? When you
want to be a doctor. Would Hitler satisfy this criteria?
Wolf
-he is arguing against both. He argues in a way which we will criticize. He argues against
her examples. One example is religious practices, actively engaging in a specific religion.
He thinks that this is clearly meaningful. Why would this be meaningful and not in a cult?
What we call the worlds main religions, we can trace them back to a cult. Why absolve
religions as meaningful activities but not actively engaging in a cult? He gets into
crossword puzzles, this is not a meaningful activity in terms of intellect. It is not an
intellectual accomplishment. Why? Your exercising your intellect but what have you
really accomplished? Khan says why not let people to pursue their own ways of life
without putting down their choices and declaring their lives meaningless? Does he mean
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