Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 3, No 1 (2007)

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A Meaningful Life in a Meaningless Cosmos? Two Rival Approaches

Sami Pihlström


This paper discusses the ancient problem of meaningful life. Given the amount of evil and absurdity in the world around us, how can human life be experienced as meaningful? Two traditional approaches to this issue are identified and critically discussed: the life of action and the life of contemplation. It is argued that none of these can resolve the problem in a satisfactory manner. Finally, the notion of guilt is briefly taken up as one potential source of meaning (or of the fact that life can genuinely lack meaning and that this lack can be experienced as a loss).

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