Advanced Search

Nowadays, I feel as if right now, in this current world, humans are only wanting

Nowadays, I feel as if right now, in this current world, humans are only wanting to study really hard in school, get a job, and receive money for food and personal items. I feel like there's more to life than that but everybody I ask seems to only want a good job and a lot of money. I am 16 years old and I know that I still have a lot of years to live through but sometimes I feel as if just getting a job and getting money with that job is such a pointless goal. I keep thinking if that is the meaning of life, then that is such an uninteresting goal. But, I still try my best in school and academics because I have this weird, abstract feeling that I absolutely HAVE to or I will fail in life. I do not know the explanation of that feeling but I listen to it. Is just getting a job, doing that job and getting money for it the meaning of the vast majority of this world's people's lives?

Just FYI: The link Prof. Pessin supplied isn't an essay by Thomas Nagel. It appears to be a paper concerning Nagel's work on the meaning of life, a paper written by a student (Lucas Beerekamp) for a course at a university in the Netherlands. Chapter 1o of Nagel's introductory book What Does It All Mean? (1987) is entitled "The Meaning of Life." Perhaps that's what Prof. Pessin meant to refer to (although it's barely seven short pages). More likely he meant to refer to Nagel's famous Journal of Philosophy article, "The Absurd" (1971).

Just FYI: The link Prof. Pessin supplied isn't an essay by Thomas Nagel. It appears to be a paper concerning Nagel's work on the meaning of life, a paper written by a student (Lucas Beerekamp) for a course at a university in the Netherlands. Chapter 1o of Nagel's introductory book What Does It All Mean? (1987) is entitled "The Meaning of Life." Perhaps that's what Prof. Pessin meant to refer to (although it's barely seven short pages). More likely he meant to refer to Nagel's famous Journal of Philosophy article, "The Absurd" (1971).

I know that many philosophers might scoff upon being asked some variation of

I know that many philosophers might scoff upon being asked some variation of "What is the meaning of life or living" but isn't it about the most relevant question one can ask in relation to philosophy and its relationship with humankind? It seems this is studied very little or at all by philosophers in academia. As a follow-up, do philosophers either in the continental or analytic tradition place any value in the metaphysical writings of yogis or mystics from India; isn't it at least worth investigating?

It would be unbecoming of a philosopher to scoff at the question rather than engage it in some way, and philosophers do engage it. Another book to investigate is the third edition of The Meaning of Life: A Reader, edited by Klemke and Cahn. In his article "The Absurd" (widely anthologized, including in Klemke and Cahn), Nagel makes a tantalizingly brief suggestion that many who seek the meaning of life are seeking something flatly impossible: a life purpose so significant, so clearly ultimate, that it would make no sense to question it. Take happiness, for example. We can't simply define it as "the ultimate goal of life," because that would be a circular definition in this context. So we can question it as a goal: Is it the same as pleasure, or is it more like lasting satisfaction? Is it tied to virtue or not? Whichever answers we give to those questions invite the further sensible question "If that's what happiness is, then why is it the ultimate goal?" In this short magazine article, I follow up Nagel's suggestion in the context of traditional theism. [By the way, Chapter 1o of Nagel's introductory book What Does It All Mean? (1987) is entitled "The Meaning of Life," but it's barely seven short pages. More likely Prof. Pessin meant to refer to Nagel's "The Absurd" in his comment above.]

It would be unbecoming of a philosopher to scoff at the question rather than engage it in some way, and philosophers do engage it. Another book to investigate is the third edition of The Meaning of Life: A Reader , edited by Klemke and Cahn. In his article "The Absurd" (widely anthologized, including in Klemke and Cahn), Nagel makes a tantalizingly brief suggestion that many who seek the meaning of life are seeking something flatly impossible: a life purpose so significant, so clearly ultimate, that it would make no sense to question it. Take happiness, for example. We can't simply define it as "the ultimate goal of life," because that would be a circular definition in this context. So we can question it as a goal: Is it the same as pleasure, or is it more like lasting satisfaction? Is it tied to virtue or not? Whichever answers we give to those questions invite the further sensible question "If that's what happiness is, then why is it the ultimate goal?" In this short magazine...

I've been thinking about why good people disagree with each other about

I've been thinking about why good people disagree with each other about important things, like whether to support or oppose a particular law.  One, there may be some sort of mental deficiency or some crucial lack of knowledge. (Not truly common causes, in my opinion.) Two, there may be terminology issues. These may be legitimate differences in defining terms being used but sometimes I wonder if this is really more the side-effect of a basic disagreement rather than the cause. Three, and most important I think, there may be underlying differences in values (beliefs, morals, motivations, and even personality) that guide 'good' people to take opposite sides on important social debates. My questions for the philosophers here: A: is this a reasonable scheme to categorize disagreements among people? B: What have philosophers had to say about this topic?

Philosophers, especially lately, have had a lot to say about this topic. You might start with this SEP entry, and I recommend looking at this recent anthology. Fortunately (or unfortunately, if you wanted a short answer!), there's a large and growing literature on the topic. Enjoy.

Philosophers, especially lately, have had a lot to say about this topic. You might start with this SEP entry , and I recommend looking at this recent anthology . Fortunately (or unfortunately, if you wanted a short answer!), there's a large and growing literature on the topic. Enjoy.

Where can I read about objections to the validity of a question such as "the

Where can I read about objections to the validity of a question such as "the purpose of life" where the question baselessly presupposes that life HAS a purpose. And more broadly, even if it claimed that EVERYTHING has a purpose, how can such a claim be justified? It seems that many metaphysical questions suffer from this lack of validity due to unfounded presuppositions or assertions. Where can I read about this as applied to philosophical questions in general? Thank you.

I recommend the essays in Part Three ("Questioning the Question") of E.D. Klemke's collection The Meaning of Life (Second Edition). If I may also mention my own short article on one aspect of this topic, you can find it at this link.

The literature on whether philosophical questions in general rest on false presuppositions is enormous. You might start with this SEP article (especially section 4.1). There's also a growing literature on whether metaphysics in particular (and ontology more particularly) concerns mostly pseudo-questions; see, for example, this collection.

I recommend the essays in Part Three ("Questioning the Question") of E.D. Klemke's collection The Meaning of Life (Second Edition). If I may also mention my own short article on one aspect of this topic, you can find it at this link . The literature on whether philosophical questions in general rest on false presuppositions is enormous. You might start with this SEP article (especially section 4.1). There's also a growing literature on whether metaphysics in particular (and ontology more particularly) concerns mostly pseudo-questions; see, for example, this collection .

Does strict materialism imply there is no such thing as intrinsic value?

Does strict materialism imply there is no such thing as intrinsic value? If we say something has intrinsic value, I take it we mean that it is 'good' in itself, for its own sake. I'm not using 'good' to mean 'morally good' - but just "good from at least someone's point of view" in the sense that the experience of of eating an ice cream seems good to me. I think conscious experiences, in general, have intrinsic value - at least in this personal-point-of-view way. I also think this aspect of my experience is crucial to rational decision-making; without it, I'd have no clear basis for deciding between, say, eating an ice cream and setting myself on fire. I also think that if we go a bit further and say that that experiences have intrinsic value, period (i.e., objectively, from everyone's point of view), then we might have the basis of a theory of morality. Now, I gather that some philosophers might object to such a theory, on the grounds that ideas like "ought", "should" or "morally bad" cannot be...

I don't see how materialism as such bears on the existence of intrinsic value. The issue of whether anything has intrinsic value, and if so which things have it, seems independent of whether the world contains any immaterial substances (such as immaterial minds or souls). I think of values as abstract objects (non-physical non-substances), so if there are no abstract objects then there are no values, but there can be abstract objects without immaterial substances.

You're right that we haven't yet found a satisfying explanation of conscious experience in wholly materialistic terms, but even if we never find such an explanation, our failure to explain something wouldn't imply the logical or ontological claim that materialism is incompatible with intrinsic value.

You suggest that "conscious experiences, in general, have intrinsic value," at least from the first-person perspective. I'm not sure what the qualifier "in general" is doing in that clause, since the intrinsic value of something doesn't depend on all else being equal: whatever has intrinsic value has it regardless of how things are in the rest of the world, although its intrinsic value might be swamped by extrinsic disvalue. Maybe knowledge, as such, has intrinsic value, but someone can put his knowledge to horrific use, in which case it would be better overall if he lacked that knowledge.

I'd also question the idea that experience as such is a good candidate for something having intrinsic value: it seems to me that the value of an experience depends entirely on the quality of the experience and what it produces. There's net disvalue in experiencing only pain for the last hour of one's life, followed by permanent oblivion, even though it's experience. Are you perhaps saying, instead, that pleasurable experience has intrinsic value and painful experience has intrinsic disvalue, as classical utilitarians say? If so, then the intrinsic value doesn't attach to experience as such but to its character. Some utilitarians say that we can found morality on this basis. More on that at this link.

I don't see how materialism as such bears on the existence of intrinsic value. The issue of whether anything has intrinsic value, and if so which things have it, seems independent of whether the world contains any immaterial substances (such as immaterial minds or souls). I think of values as abstract objects (non-physical non-substances), so if there are no abstract objects then there are no values, but there can be abstract objects without immaterial substances. You're right that we haven't yet found a satisfying explanation of conscious experience in wholly materialistic terms, but even if we never find such an explanation, our failure to explain something wouldn't imply the logical or ontological claim that materialism is incompatible with intrinsic value. You suggest that "conscious experiences, in general, have intrinsic value," at least from the first-person perspective. I'm not sure what the qualifier "in general" is doing in that clause, since the intrinsic value of...

Pages