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Sunday, April 21, 2013

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Bill,

Thank you so much for impressive, lucid, and provocative couple of posts on my favorite subject, The Meaning of Life. It will take some time to digest them and respond. I am preparing something and, time permitting, I would like to have the opportunity to review and respond.

I agree with much of what you say. More detail when thoughts organize into a coherent narrative. I hope that other commentators will engage this important subject.

Thanks for your pithy comment, Peter. I am driving toward an aporia, as you well suspect.

John Kekes is a very good philosopher, by the way, and I recommend him in your pursuit of this topic.

Bill,

Thanks for your posts. I agree with you about extreme subjectivism, and I agree that moderate subjectivism as you have described it fails to distinguish between the philosophical problem and the psychological problem. They are clearly different problems, though each is important.

It is interesting to note that, on certain models of lifespan psychology, the psychological problem tends to be faced and (ideally) resolved during adolescence and early adulthood, and the philosophical problem tends to be faced and (ideally) answered in an objective manner during the years of middle and late adulthood. This is not to say that middle and late adulthood lead people to approach the question with philosophical rigor. Rather, the idea is that older adults, by virtue of experience, generally see the question as having a more or less objective answer.

I teach an ethics class that includes a final assignment and discussion on the meaning of life. I’ve taught the class several times - including a few now in process – and most of my students seem to be subjectivists on this topic. They tend to see the meaning of life from either the extreme or moderate perspective.

I understand why students tend to be subjectivists about the meaning of life, given the influence of relativism and subjectivism in our culture. However, they are very hesitant to admit the possibility of an objective answer to this question. I’m concerned about this, not only because I think that the question has an objective answer, but also because I think it’s important that students develop the ability to fairly examine both the subjective and objective answers.

I hope to read your comments on objective meaning, should the series move in that direction.

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