LIFE Course: Search for Meaning

Reference - Week One


There are dozens and dozens of current books and papers that might be sighted in connection with this course. There's a self-help "industry" that regularly turns out books, pamphlets and videos on how to discover you true meaning and inner purpose. Just follow their approach, it will only take 4 days or 40 hours or 4 weeks or 40 days and all will be revealed. You will discover true inner happiness and satisfaction.

And then there are a multitude of faiths, sects and religions. Almost all of them have faith in the revealed approach that's a basic part of that faith. The books, pamphlets and video continue to flow. For several reasons none of this material will be referenced here. I'm not competent to identify the faiths and their revealed truths that would be representative of what is available and appopriate, and I place little trust in the products of the self-help industry.

That only leave us with a few hundred texts every year that touch on one aspect or another of Search for Meaning. What I have done is to build pdf files that provide a reasonable sampling of the most appropriate books and articles to which I have access. I tried to avoid the basic material that says little beyond the obvious and to avoid the academic texts in which the author talks to her fellow academics. Given all of this, I see four broad categories of material that could be used to help inform our conversations:

Categories of Material

I) Personal statements about meaning and purpose

II) Motivation and response of those in the 3rd or 4th age

III) Questions, more questions and comments of philosophers

IV) A mix of psychology, sociology and cognitive science

Reference Material [May 2021]

I) Personal Statements

"The Meaning of Life, A Reader", a 56 page excerpt of the 4th edition (2018).

II) 3rd and 4th Age

"What Retirees Want, Life's Third Age", a 37 page excerpt from this 2020 text.

III) Philosophy

Stanford: The Meaning of Life, peer reviewed, 20 page survey of the academic field.

UTM: The Meaning of Life, Contemporary Perspectives, peer reviewed, 26 page survey of the academic field.

IV) Social Science

A Brief Guide to Embodied Cognition from Scientific American's blog, with an accurate title

Mead and Vygotsky on Meaning and the Self a 1994 paper on the early 20th century foundations of a social view of self

Pressing the Flesh: A Tension in the Study of the Embodied, Embedded Mind, a 23 page paper, published in 2008