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Chapter

Taylor Richard #2


Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHIL 1100
Professor
Anita Lam

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RICHARD TAYLOR pp. 134
Answer to the meaning of life
(questions whether life has any meaning, and the idea of meaningfulness)
Answers this question by referencing “a perfect image of
meaninglessness” – Sisyphus
Uses this understanding of meaninglessness to provide a clearer
definition of meaningfulness in life (opposite)
Myth of Sisyphus
References this myth as “the picture of meaningless, pointless
toil...meaningless existence (pg. 134) – or as a paradigm of a
meaningless existence
Taylor notes that Sisyphus’ life is pointless, not because he has to role
the stone over the hill, over and over – but because Sisyphus is cursed
with the fate of “a repetitious, cyclic activity that never comes to
anything” (p. 135) – his “struggle comes to nothing” b/c his labour is
pointless – there is no purpose/comes to nothing
Finding Meaningfulness
In the life of Sisyphus?
Taylor alters the myth – uses the story to make meaning of Sisyphus’
life by adding a purpose to his labours
Says - what if the gods (as an afterthought) were merciful to Sisyphus
“by implanting in him a strange and irrational impulse; namely, a
compulsive impulse to roll stones” (p. 136).
Suppose he had a desire to do something this pointless – this change
in attitude/view would “release him from endless boredom and
meaninglessness, his life is now filled with mission and meaning” (p.
136) – he would embrace fate
This would give his life purpose – a subjective meaning
Sisyphus’ life = subjective meaningfulness
Sisyphus’ mindset derives intense meaning/happiness
“activity.....has a meaning if it has some significant culmination, some
more or less lasting end that can be considered to have been the
direction and the purpose of the activity” (p. 137)
Sisyphus’ life = objectively meaningless
Sisyphus = accomplishing nothing, getting nowhere
Taylor references biological world to make his point (glow worms and
their meaningless existence, how their activity culminates to nothing
with no end goal). Says: “the point of any living thing’s life is,
evidently, nothing but life itself” (p. 138)
Human Life/Man’s life resembles Sisyphus
“the kind of meaninglessness that we found in Sisyphus and that we
find all around, wherever anything lives.” (p. 138)
We live the mechanical lives, and “whereas Sisyphus himself returns to
push the stone up again, we leave this to our children” (139). SO the
only difference between Sisyphus and us is that he does not die (in the
underworld), we die and pass our Sisyphian life generation after
generation
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