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Richard Taylor notes 1-28.docx

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CAS PH 150
Matt Cartmill

Richard Taylor-The Meaning of Life The Ethical Life, Chapter 5 01/29/14 • Why we are talking about this in general: The fact that the question “Is Life meaningful?” is a hard question to answer is proof in and of itself that the idea of meaninglessness is meaningful/important. • Why he writing about this: to emphasize how important human desire is in our lives—it answers many hard questions and adds a new dimension to life/human beings. o “Meaningless can be altered by making only a very slight change.” • Overview of Statement: Life is meaningless until we attach desire to it; if we desire to push a rock up a hill all our lives, then it is meaningful to us and therefore life is meaningful • Argument Path: o First we have to come up with an image of a meaningless existence and then compare ourselves to it  Perfect image/example is found in ancient myth of Sisyphus; condemned by gods to roll a stone to the top of a hill and the stone immediately rolled back down, again to be pushed to the top, and so on. This is forever. • It’s meaningless because it is never redeemed; not even by a death that would end this idiotic cycle. He never awakens from this meaningless cycle, either. No rewards come from it either. • It doesn’t matter how much he struggles in his labor—the point is that it is a cycle that has no ending or reward (meaning). His work is pointless. • New information changes the way we see this story: o If he rolled multiple stones up the hill that were assembled into a temple (or something), then aspect of meaningless would disappear. Even if it wasn’t worth it, that does not devoid the act of meaningfulness. o If the gods implanted a strange impulse to roll stones, then rolling stones is his desire and he gets to fulfill that and does not wish for a release from it (could be a form of heaven)—the exact thing happens but Sisyphus’view has changed; his image has not lost that meaninglessness (task is still never completed); he only thinks of it differently. o The Meaninglessness of Life  This example shows us what meaningfulness might be.  Meaninglessness: endless pointlessness  Meaningfulness: activity that has some significant culmination, some more or less lasting end that can be considered to have been the direction and purpose of the activity o Question: how an existence that is objectively meaningless, in this sense, can acquire a meaning for him/his existence? (“him”=the person who we are questioning their existence)  Well which of these pictures does life actually resemble? • Use an animal for example: a worm in a cave who is blind and waits for insects to attract to its tail o The cycle repeats for nourishment and then they turn into butterflies and then mate and lay eggs and then devoured by other worms. o Why does this go on for millions of years? What is culminating from these repeated cycles? Nothing. o The point of living life culminates nothing and therefore the point of any living thing’s life is, nothing but life itself. o What makes man different is
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