Readings – Week Four (Search for Meaning)

Conversation Questions


This is my first list of possible readings for Week Four. My expectation is that you’ll dip into most of the readings and then settle on a few to read carefully. My hope is that our next conversation will be informed by a range of different views.

My current thinking is to use week five to present my version of the question to ask and my answer to that question, drawing heavily on the work of Susan Wolf. If you’re up for it, I would like to hear from those of you willing to speak in week six about what you got from our conversations and what conclusions you reached, if any.

I’m happy to distribute material that members o the class think might be helpful. Please send me material that you would like to see distributed. I’ll send out a second note before our next class/conversation on Wednesday, May 26th.


Rebecca Lewis suggests that “Albert Camus on Happiness, Unhappiness and Our Self-Imposed Prisons” provides a short (2 page), readable entry into Camus’ thinking.

Similar in flavor and brevity, “A Short But Interesting Answer to The Unavoidable Question of Life” justifies moving on to question “How can I live a meaningful life?”


More substantial texts:

The Meaning of Life: A Very Short Introduction” has a 23 page concluding chapter on “Is life what you make it?” The prose is serious without being academic.

What’s It All About? - Philosophy and the Meaning of Life” is another serious but not academic text. I’ve included the first 20-page chapter that covers “philosophy” and a 5-page conclusion.

On The Meaning of Life” starts off with a 12-page untangling of the question and concludes with a 6-page focus on Everyday Life. It’s readable and approachable.

On Purpose – How we create the meaning of life” begins with a 20-page chapter on Purpose and concludes with a 5-page chapter on The Moral. Another readable and approachable text.

Meaning in Life – An analytic Study” begins with a 13-page Introduction that provides a useful overview of what the rest of the book covers in detail.

The Brain and The Meaning of Life” provides interesting connections between the brain and meaning. It begins with a 12-page Introduction and concludes with a 21-page Making Sense of it all.


Finally ...

On The Meaning of Life” is a spiritual approach to the question of meaning. I’ve included the author’s 31-page explanation of The Question and his 6-page concluding section on Intimations of Meaning. This is not an approach that I find compelling, but it is one that many would prefer over the non-spiritual concerns that inform my thinking.


In Conclusion ...

I would be pleased to distribute thoughts on meaning even if I don’t find them compelling. If you know texts that you find compelling, let me know and I’ll distribute copies to the class (assuming I can access the material). If I have missed something that you find important, let me know, ... I’m happy to pass on your thoughts.