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Can I Get a Higher Truth? The Meaning of Life is Subjective

March 10, 2021

Abstract: This paper attempts to answer the conundrum of whether the meaning of life is subjective by analyzing Søren Kierkegaard’s arguments in his work Stages of Life’s Way, and discusses various interpretations of life’s meaningfulness by analyzing the different viewpoints of philosophers— Daan Evers, Richard Taylor, and Susan Wolf. The first part of the paper analyzes Søren Kierkegaard’s three stages of life: aesthetic, ethical, and religious. The paper then analyzes the notion that the meaning of life is personal and there may be endless subjective ways in which one can live a meaningful life via Richard Taylor’s evaluation of Sisyphus’s life in both standard form analysis and its analysis diagrams and Susan Wolf’s remarks on subjectivity and objectivity. We also explore Daan Evers’s claim that the meaning of life requires the existence of objective values. In addition to the Standard Form Analysis, Diagrams for the Logics are also introduced and shown. When considering that the meaning of life is subjective (that meaningfulness comes from within), one must observe the opposite view: that meaningfulness comes from objective values existing outside of the individual. Therefore, we examine two hypothetical versions of Sisyphus, one where he rolls the stone up a hill and builds a beautiful temple, and the other where he rolls the stone for no apparent reason but enjoys doing it. While some philosophers use the second hypothetical claim to discredit subjectivism, arguing that a positive attitude is not enough to project meaning onto one’s existence, subjectivists perceive life from their own individuality—that each belief is unique. The paper concludes that everyone views life subjectively, even if they hold objective values. 

 

References

  1. Evers, D. 2017. “Meaning in Life and the Metaphysics of Value,” De Ethica. A Journal of Philosophical, Theological and Applied Ethics, Vol. 4:3, 27-44.

  2. Taylor, R. 2000. “The Meaning of Life,” in Ethics: History, Theory, and Contemporary Issues, Cahn, Markie, (Eds.). New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 948-953.

  3. “Chapter 2: An Expression of Gratitude to Lessing.” Kierkegaard's Concluding Unscientific Postscript, by Søren Kierkegaard et al., Princeton University Press, 1974, pp.63–86.

  4. “Chapter 2: Selections from 'Either/Or' and 'Fear and Trembling'.” Kierkegaard's Concluding Unscientific Postscript, by Søren Kierkegaard et al., Princeton University Press, 1974, pp. 30–63.

  5. Hudecki, Dennis. “Kierkegaard's Concept of Self.” Philosophy 2553F: Forerunners of Existentialism. Hudecki, Dennis. “Kierkegaard's Concluding Unscientific Postscript.” Philosophy 2553F: Forerunners of Existentialism.

  6. Hudecki, Dennis. “Some Key Concepts in Fear and Trembling.” Philosophy 2553F: Forerunners of Existentialism.