PHIL 1100 – MEANING OF LIFE
THE THEISTIC ANSWER
CHAPTER 1 – MY CONFESSIONS - LEO TOLSTOY
If questions were to repeat itself, it would be necessary to find the answer to them.
Questions are not waiting, and I had to answer them at once, if I did not answer them, I could not live.
I could not live, and fearing death, I had to use cunning against myself, in order that I might not take my life.
“You cannot understand the meaning of life, do not think, live!”
LEO TOLSTOY –
Wrote “My Confessions” at 50 years old.
Married at 28
Why he does what he does
Writing made Tolstoy “self-actualize”
Writing for 15 years
At 40 years old, he has an arrest of life. WWII changed his view of his meaning of life.
Want to change life, sometimes things change > mini crisis occur throughout life
Born in a Russian and Christian Orthodox, when he was 18, he has no feelings for him. By 18-28, “I fornicated and
cheated, lying, lust, drunkenness, violence murder not a crime I haven’t committed”
ABRAHAM MASLOW’S FIVE LEVELS OF NEEDS – helps us understand ourselves and others.
5. Self – Actualization: You want to be fulfilled by having kids. What does a person need to live in life?
4. Self- Esteem: We need to feel good about ourselves.
3. Love and Social Needs: Need to be loved and have social interactions
2. Security Needs: You need to feel safe.
1. Basic Needs: Food, Water, Clean Air, etc.
VIKTOR FRANKL –
Existential Vacuum – Feeling life is going to be over. Leads to depression and suicides. Growing anxiety of death
(everything looking like a deception)
Art is a decoy in life. Didn’t find answers in Philosophy or Psychology
Science doesn’t give you the meaning of life – it destroys the meaning of life.
Does science contribute or destroy the meaning of/in life?
Tolstoy turned to science to find meaning of life
CARL SAGAN –
Says science makes an equilibrium in life
Says philosophy doesn’t find the meaning of life.
Turned to peasants, they didn’t live for pleasure – they work hard
Found Meaning of life “in religious fate” (peasants)
Human reason (called devil’s bride)
Knowledge vs. Conviction (they are not the same)
Tolstoy turned in the faith of the peasants
Pursuing that to say “fate brings you to the answer – they finite and infinite life” – otherwise there is no answer.
PHIL 1100 – MIDTERM EXAM REVIEW 1 FIDEISM –
People find their life meaningless without a religion/ group etc. (AKA Mass Movements)
Meaning of life found from Mass Movements
Meaning of life found from Mass Movements – question meaning of life unsatisfying
Satisfaction just makes you feel good in the psychological level
The meaning of life is described as it’s their “fate” – philosophers not satisfied with the belief of fate. Must think with
Fate = wishful thinking ( I hope it is true)
Religious thinkers believe that “blind fate” is a bad thing – faith can not go against science
Many different religions to choose from
Tolstoy divides people in two groups.
Aristocrates vs Peasants (the mass)
Rich vs. Poor
Black vs White
… These are false dichonomy
CHAPTER 2 – THE DIGNITY OF HUMAN LIFE – DAVID F. SWENSON
Man lives forward, but he thinks backwards.
If there were no past for a man, there could be no future; and if there were no future and no past, but only such an
immersion in the present as is characteristics of the brute which perisheth, then there would be nothing eternal in
View of life is not acquired from direct/ immediate result of study, reading of books or communication – the view of
life is found in the individual’s own knowledge of himself as an individual.
The view of life is a principle of living, a spirit and an attitude capable of maintaining its unity and identity with itself
in all of life’s complexities and varying vicissitudes.
View of life is not objective knowledge but subjective conviction
That’s why the view of life cannot be directly communicated or conveyed from one person to another.
View of life is the reply a person gives to the question that life asks him.
PROBLEM: A view of life – You cannot measure meaning, dignity and worth by listening to a speech.
Some people search for a view of life – all mean are endowed by nature with a desire for happiness.
Human life without happiness or hope of happiness is not a life, but rather a death in life.
Happiness is life’s vital fluid.
Man is made for happiness; an essentially unhappy man has missed his goal, and has failed to realize his humanity.
Happiness cannot consist in the satisfaction of momentary impulse, of blind feeling, of brute immediacy.
Life is not life unless it’s happy, so happiness is not happiness unless it can be justified. In order to have happiness; it
has to be interpenetrated with a sense of meaning, reason and worth.
The quest to find happiness is dangerous because it poses risks of confronting error, no goals and failures.
It is possible to seem “happy” but deep inside; you are filled with misery.
Happiness is said to be commonly defined as independence of life, as prosperity with virtue, as comfortable
circumstances with security, or as enjoyment of many possessions.
What circumstances and conditions have the power to make him feel really alive, tingling with vitality, instinct with the
joy of living.
As Aristotle says’ virtue alone will not make a man happy, but he needs also good and friends.
Reflection discovers yet another difficulty in connection with such views of life.
Every access of power and prosperity and of outward comfort, brings with it’s own grieves and dangers.
But I cannot and will not believe that their development constitutes the perfection of life itself.
CRITICISM: The essence of life and it’s happiness is to be sought in the moral consciousness alone is the conviction
that animates this address, and gives it it’s reason for being.
PHIL 1100 – MIDTERM EXAM REVIEW 2 Human self has an infinite worth, personality has an eternal validity.
The moral spirits finds the meaning of life in choice. Finds it in himself (remains in himself – that inner essence
remains with him). He has his “end” in himself.
Extended Self -----------------------------------------------------------------
(my term, not his) me past me now my future (103)
Preparation for external (career) and internal (fundamental) life
Meaning of life is the way we look at the world. (Meaning, view and identity). Everything happens for a reason.
If you don’t spend time to know yourself, your life is a waste. Knowledge does not mean wishful thinking (I wish, I
Not having a view of life |is like having a ship without a router.”
Do I want myself to be based on the evidence available?
We use happiness in 2 if not many ways:
Alfie (Movie) shows the fundamental views of happiness
Appears to be happy but is not really happy
Happiness cannot be found only in the present.
Quest for happiness faces the dangers for failure.
CHAPTER 3 - RELIGION GIVES MEANING TO LIFE – LOUIS P. POJMAN
If theism is true and there is a benevolent supreme being governing the universe, the following eight theses are true:
1. We have a satisfying explanation of the origins and sustenance of the universe we are not the product of
chance and necessity or an impersonal big band, but of a heavenly being who cares about us.
2. Theism holds that the universe is suffused in goodness and that good will win out over evil. We are not
fighting a desperate battle alone, but God is on her side – or rather, it is possible to be on God’s side in the
struggle of good over evil.
3. God loves us (and care for us). His love compels us, so that we have a deeper motive for morally good
actions, including high altruism.
4. Why be moral? – Love guarantees justice, so that you will get what you deserve. Good for good, Bad for bad.
5. Everyone would get what they deserve according to their moral merit. (Equally judged)
6. All persons are of equal worth. (All are god’s children. “Good” parents love their child equally.
7. Grace and Forgiveness. There is a a happy ending for all. We make mistakes, deserving forgiveness. We can
be given a new start. (Tolstoy was a murderer)
8. Life after Death. Death is not the end of the matter, but we shall live on, recognizing each other in a better
Religion gives meaning to life.
Agnostic (Atheist without balls)
Says wouldn’t be nice if theism was true?
Autonomy vs. Religion
DECIDOPHOBIA – (Walter Kaufmann) The fear of making important decisions.
The meaning in life.
LOUIS POJMAN –
Autonomy – self-governing ability to make choices without being afraid.
“Meaning in life: good, bad, indifferent” – Unpack meaning. Life is a purpose, rational/ plan to it. Bad > Harming
yourself/others. Indifferent > doesn’t mean anything.
The meaning in/of life is different. Meaning doesn’t have to be given to you. There might be good purposes in life,
might be some meaning to life. You give up most of your time.
Fallacy of “false dilemma” (aka false dichotomy, bifurcation, false alternatives) – Fallacy has to be relearned.
Black and white thinking, Manichaeism – Situation where one believes in false. Have a world. Become a Christian
philosopher. Giving more or less alternatives in reality.
PHIL 1100 – MIDTERM EXAM REVIEW 3 Epistemological problems (from the word epistemology) – Logical Possibility – Calvinism: Exegesis: anybody to uses
this study in Christianity. Sect. division/nomination of the new decimal. Offers truth of the world.
Theism, quotes from Christian: Sees things in different ways. If we know why we are here, we could lead it to
intelligence. Value economy: you will know your choices – want to know what the truths are.
Theism(usually meant in our text to mean monotheism, not polytheism)
If you can’t stand seeing / belief of health/blood – don’t go to medical school.
Theism – government of monovalent that surperior of ther world/beliefs
Many more theisms than he just mentioned
Usually means monotheism and one god.
Polytheisms – many gods.
PROBLEM: If Theism is true?
Use Pascalian argument to see if it’s true. “Gambling” on god. Doesn’t know if theism is true or not. He is a Pascalian
theist. Are Human minds capable of believing it is true?
“PASCALIAN ARGUMENT” – Pascal’s Wager (initial position in compare agnosticism).
GOD EXISTS GOD ~EXIST
Believe Jackpot Social/Psychological Benefits
~Believe Great Misery Neutral
Believe + Exist = Jackpot
~Believe + Exist = Misery
God ~Exist + Exist = Social and Psychological Beliefs
God ~Exist + ~Exist = Neutral
True believer = disgusting they are
I must use a Pascalian argument to see if it’s true.
If theism is true, the 8 theses must exist.
God’s love > makes us have deeper motives (altruism).
Theism > Why be Moral? … It gives us answer to why be moral.
CHAPTER 4 – JUDAISM AND THE MEANING OF LIFE – EMIL L. FACKENHEIM
Religions – which differ in much else – digger in substance according to their ecperience and understanding?
In Judaism, the fundamental and all-penetrating occurrence is a primordial myster, and miracles of miracles.
CONSEQUENCE: Of miracles of miracles which lies at the core of Judaism, Jewish life and thought are marked by a
fundamental tension. Tension mught have been evaded in either of the two ways:
1. Might be held- as ancient Epicureanism and modern Deism. For example, do in fact hold – that the Divine
and the human are after all incapable of meeting.
2. Might have been held that the meeting Is a mystical conflux, in which the finite dissolves into the infinite and
man suffers the loss of his humanity.
Judaism is rejected in Jewish tradition.
In eyes of Judaism, whatever meaning life acquires derives from it’s encounter: the Divine accepts and confirms the
human in the moment of meeting.
Cannot be determined by human purpose.
The presence of god, then, as Martin Buber puts it, its an “inexpressible confirmation of meaning… the question of the
meaning of life is no longer there. But were it there, it would not have to be answered.
In Judaism, man is real at every moment of his finite existence.
Judaism God accepts and confirms man by commanding him is his humanit; and the response called for is obedience of
god – an obedience to be expressed in finite human form.
Love makes possible and indeed mandatory, human self-acceptance.
EMIL FACKENHEIM –
She died in 2003, she is a holocaust survivor.
PHIL 1100 – MIDTERM EXAM REVIEW 4 Deism > Rejects Deism.
A view of there is a god, but not a god you can pray to. We can’t hope to understand what god is/isn’t. Humans can
have a relation with.
Judaism > whatever meaning of life has is the encounter of god. Is the “meaning of life”
Eschatological future – End time. Fulfilling responsibilities. God does things in response.
Finds himself through terms (Partnership with God). Implies equality) Focuses in Jewish faith.
We don’t make commands to god, god makes commands to us. Covenant would be broken by us (not god).
Why does contract remain? (God has patience)
Unconditional love > doesn’t matter what kids do, parents will always have unconditional love.
Parents would let kids fight that allows them to learn.
Albert Einstein rejects the belief of personal god because it’s childish.
What if Judaism isn’t true/ is mistaken? Does it mean there won’t be a meaning in life?
What if it’s all an illusion.
CHAPTER 5 – THE MEANING OF LIFE ACCORDING TO CHRISTIANITY- PHILIP L. QUINN
Human life is not linguistic entity.
(AM) A human life has positive axiological meaning if and only if:
1. It has positive intrinsic value
2. It is on the whole good for the person who leads it.
(TM) A human life has positive teleological meaning if and only if:
1. It contains some purposes the person who lives it takes to be nontrivial and achievable.
2. These purposes have positive value.
3. It also contains actions that are directed toward achieving theses purposes and are performed with zest.
(CM) A human life has positive complete meaning if and only if it has both positive axiological meaning and positive
PHILIP L. QUINN –
Logical positivism + Created that. Sets as a meaning or meaningful.
He rejects this view – human life can have meaning in a variety of ways or meanings.
Axiological Meaning – Positive intrinsic value
Teleological Meaning – Study of goals. Purposes a person has goals. Positivae valyes, trying to achieve.
Positive Complete Meaning – (Both Axiological and Teleological) – Paradigm, model for human lives. Try to copy
(indicators of life)
Suffering in justice – not about revenge. More admirerers (don’t do anything > they listen)
Survival of death gives meaning.
Epistemic modesty – Epistemic (Knowledge). Religious pluralism vs. religious.
THE NONTHEISTIC ANSWER
CHAPTER 6 – ON THE SUFFERINGS OF THE WORLD – ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER
Unless suffering is the direct and immediate object of life, our existence must entirely fail of its aim.
Evil is just what is positive, it makes its own existence felt. It is good which is negative in other words, happiness and
satisfaction always imply some desires fulfilled, some state of pain brought to an end.
We generally find pleasure to be not nearly so pleasant as we expected, and pain very much more painful.
Pleasure is said to outweigh pain, or at any rate, there is an even balance between the two.
Work, worry, labour and trouble, form the lot of almost all men their whole life long.
The longer you live life; you will feel that the whole life a disappointment, nay, a cheat.
Life is a task to be done. It is a fine thing to say defunctusest; it means that a man has done his task.
PHIL 1100 – MIDTERM EXAM REVIEW 5 ALBERT SCHOPENHAUER –
Life negating philosophies. Life affirming philosophies.
Only dumb people can enjoy it as anima