What does philosophy have to say on the question of the meaning of life? This is one of the founding questions of philosophy and has remained a central problem for philosophers from antiquity through to the Middle Ages and modern period.
It may surprise some readers that there has, in fact, been a good deal of agreement on the answer to this question: the meaning of life is happiness.
The Purpose of Life is a serious but engaging exploration and defense of this answer. The central idea that shapes The Purpose of Life is Augustine's assertion that "It is the decided opinion of all who use their brains that all men desire to be happy." In working through the ramifications of this answer, Stewart Goetz provides a survey of the debates surrounding life's meaning, from both theists and atheists alike.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Clarifying the Question
What is the Meaning of Life?
Clarifying Questions and Answers to Them
A Plausible Understanding of "What is the meaning of life?"
A Plausible Understanding of "What makes life meaningful?"
A Plausible Understanding of "Is life meaningful?"
This World, the Afterlife, and the Soul
Chapter 2: Perfect Happiness and Its Atheist Critics
Perfect Happiness Is Not the Meaning of Life
Perfect Happiness: Setting the Bar too High
"Why Should I Be Moral?"
A Section Not Strictly Necessary
"Why Should I Be Moral?" again
Chapter 3: Perfect Happiness and Its Theist Critics
The Problem of Pleasure
Pleasure Cannot Be Intrinsically Good: Religious Concerns
Pleasure Cannot Be Intrinsically Good: Philosophical Concerns
Is Pleasure Present in Everything We Enjoy?
Chapter 4: Purposeful Explanation and Naturalism
A Brief Overview
Looking Backward versus Looking Forward
The Nature of Purposeful Explanation
The Causal Closure Principle
Science Is Not the Problem
Survival or Pleasure: What Explains What?
Evolution versus Creation
Chapter 5: The Problem of Evil
Skeptical Theism, the Purpose of Life, and the Problem of Evil
Choice and Life Plans
Life Plans and Perfect Happiness
The Plausibility of My Theodicy
Not So Fast!
A Skeptical Theist Turned Theodicist
Justice as an Organic Unity
Tying Together Some Loose Ends
The Experience of Evil by Beasts
Chapter 6: Conclusion