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The Meaning of Life: A Very Short Introduction
     

The Meaning of Life: A Very Short Introduction

4.0 3
by Terry Eagleton
 

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ISBN-10: 0199532176

ISBN-13: 9780199532179

Pub. Date: 06/30/2008

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

The phrase "the meaning of life" for many seems a quaint notion fit for satirical mauling by Monty Python or Douglas Adams. But in this spirited Very Short Introduction, famed critic Terry Eagleton takes a serious if often amusing look at the question and offers his own surprising answer.

Eagleton first examines how centuries of thinkers and

Overview

The phrase "the meaning of life" for many seems a quaint notion fit for satirical mauling by Monty Python or Douglas Adams. But in this spirited Very Short Introduction, famed critic Terry Eagleton takes a serious if often amusing look at the question and offers his own surprising answer.

Eagleton first examines how centuries of thinkers and writers—from Marx and Schopenhauer to Shakespeare, Sartre, and Beckett—have responded to the ultimate question of meaning. He suggests, however, that it is only in modern times that the question has become problematic. But instead of tackling it head-on, many of us cope with the feelings of meaninglessness in our lives by filling them with everything from football to sex, Kabbala, Scientology, "New Age softheadedness," or fundamentalism. On the other hand, Eagleton notes, many educated people believe that life is an evolutionary accident that has no intrinsic meaning. If our lives have meaning, it is something with which we manage to invest them, not something with which they come ready made. Eagleton probes this view of meaning as a kind of private enterprise, and concludes that it fails to holds up. He argues instead that the meaning of life is not a solution to a problem, but a matter of living in a certain way. It is not metaphysical but ethical. It is not something separate from life, but what makes it worth living—that is, a certain quality, depth, abundance and intensity of life.

Here then is a brilliant discussion of the problem of meaning by a leading thinker, who writes with a light and often irreverent touch, but with a very serious end in mind.

About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199532179
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
06/30/2008
Series:
Very Short Introductions Series
Pages:
128
Sales rank:
400,953
Product dimensions:
4.30(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.50(d)

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The Meaning of Life: A Very Short Introduction 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Tunguz More than 1 year ago
The "Meaning of Life" is one of those age-old questions that people of all walks of life have been pondering for at least as long as we know that people have been pondering anything. There have been many approaches to this question, and the three most prominent ones have come from philosophy, theology/religion, and literature. In this very short introduction Terry Eagelton sets out to explore all those approaches to this perennial big question. Even thought his approach is not strictly speaking philosophical, the preponderance of ideas about the meaning of life have been taken from various philosophers. Eagelton is very good at problematizing the whole "What is the meaning of life?" question. At the surface it appears like any other question to which we can give an objective answer (like "How far is Bloomington from Indianapolis?"), but at closer inspection almost every single word in that question can be very ambiguous. Eagleton's approach is to explore those ambiguities, and show how they had been addressed by other thinkers and writers. The book has a feel and style of a very long polemical essay, and an overall a very enjoyable one at that. My only big objection to it is that no attempts have been made to incorporate any of the ideas about the meaning of life, human happiness and personal integrity that have come out of the modern Psychological research. It has been known for quite a while that creating a coherent narrative of one's life is an essential part of the psychological theories of self. Other than that, the book is extremely well written and despite some grim ideas and passages an overall enjoyable and worthwhile read.
JMCostanza More than 1 year ago
I love these little short introductions that Oxford University Press puts out. They very informative and cover the subject in a professional way. This book is no exception. It's a very good beginning for the general reader who's interested in the meaning of life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago