Kierkegaard And The Ends Of Language

Kierkegaard And The Ends Of Language
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Later Heidegger saw exploitation of the natural world, as in mining and highway-building, as deplorable, as contrary to the very meaning of life.

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The meaning of life is guardianship of the world. The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre changed his views over the course of his life. In his work Being and Nothingness , advocated an outlook from which life is absurd. We more or less seriously pursue goals which, from a detached standpoint, we can see don't really matter. But we continue to act as though they do, and hence our lives are absurd. The Sartrean project is to overcome this detached standpoint, or to incorporate it into our lives. The problem is other people. They insist on their own reality. They tend to get in the way of our pursuit of our own goals.

Later on, Sartre espoused a somewhat different view. On this new view, "our fundamental goal in life is to overcome our 'contingency'," to become the foundation of our own being. The main obstacle again is other people who, on the one hand, pursue their own different goals and, on the other, propose a real military threat to one's way of life and one's homeland. In his play, No Exit, there is the famous line: "Hell is other people.

Søren Kierkegaard (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

The result is war, in something like Schopenhauer's sense. People are always at war, or at least at odds, with each other. In both his early and his later thought, Sartre ends up being pretty pessimistic and depressing. Life is meaningless. We can, by our free choice, give life some meaning or other. But the decision to do so is itself a matter of ungrounded free choice, which is such that it doesn't matter whether that decision or some other one is made.

Albert Camus , a Frenchman born in Algeria, was one of the leading existentialists though he himself disowned the label and one of the more influential writers of the first half of the twentieth century. He was familiar with the work of Nietzsche, and greatly influenced by it. On our theme, Camus's starting point was the perception of the absurd. Human life, he felt, was absurd, meaningless, and senseless. The way in which it is, or the reason it is, lies in an inevitable clash between the needs and aspirations of human beings and the cold, meaningless world.

This clash has at least four facets. First, we seek—demand, even—a rational understanding of things, some way of seeing the world as familiar to us. But the world does not cooperate: to us, it is ultimately unintelligible. Second, we long for some kind of unity underlying and organizing the manifest diversity we find all around us. But again, the world is heedless of our longings. The world that presents itself to our senses is nothing but disjointed plurality.

Third, we long for a higher reality a God, for example , something transcendent, some cosmic meaning of everything. But no such meaning can be discerned. Fourth, we strive for continued life, or at least to achieve something permanent in the end. But our efforts are pointless, everything will come to nothing, and all that lies ahead is death and oblivion. Our situation is like that of the mythical Greek of old, Sisyphus. We are condemned, as it were, to pushing a rock up a hill, over and over only to see it roll back down again, every time, when it reaches the top.

Pointless labor is Sisyphus' lot, and ours too. The pointlessness and absurdity of life raise the question of suicide. Should we kill ourselves? Camus's answer is that, no, we should not. Suicide is escapist. To kill yourself is to give in, to lose. If we were prisoners of war—which is something like what we are—our captor and tormentor would want us to do exactly that—confess that things are too much for us and kill ourselves. That would be his ultimate victory, which would bring him a chuckle, or perhaps even a hearty guffaw.

How then should we live? The first thing to do is to insist that life is better if there is no meaning. That would really irritate our tormentor.

Second, we should cultivate a mindset of honesty and lucidity. We should not indulge in denial, or evasion, or imaginings of an eventual escape into an afterlife where everything will be put right. We should acknowledge that life is awful—but then, perhaps, add "and I love it" or "all is well. Camus observes, "There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn. Fourth, we should live for now, stop worrying about the future, stop striving to achieve future goals.

Nothing is going to come of anything we do in the long run anyway.

Kierkegaard on Language and Spirit

Fifth, we should "use everything up": work hard, play hard, approach everything with zest and passion, expend energy to the human limit. This amounts to a kind of perverse "Yes! Finally, we may ask why anyone would want to live like this? Is it something that would appeal only to the French? What are the advantages of such an attitude toward life? Camus has answers to these queries, three in fact. First, living as he recommends is a way of salvaging our dignity, and it is a way to which a certain majesty adheres.

Second, surprisingly perhaps, such a way of living brings with it a "curious joy. Camus's scornful existentialism is the best conception we have of a truly free human being, one who does not allow himself to be shaped and determined by the mindless, meaningless world that surrounds him.

Anglo-American philosophers in the very late eighteenth and early twentieth centuries continued to be interested in problems of the meaning of life as well. The American pragmatist philosopher William James , a Harvard professor, wrote a couple of interesting essays on our theme in the late s. Both essays were written as addresses to be delivered to live audiences.

They demand some discussion and consideration. In "Is Life Worth Living? He calls it the "profounder bass-note of life" and suggests that it is to be found, or heard, somewhere in all of us: "In the deepest heart of all of us there is a corner in which the ultimate mystery of things works sadly.

Some people are so naturally optimistic and in love with life that they are constitutionally incapable of being much bothered by the bass-note and pay it little attention. James's example of such a person is Walt Whitman; and one thinks of the English.

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James finds no fault—intellectual, moral, or otherwise—with such people. It is rare good fortune to be blessed with such a temperament. If everyone were, the question of the worthwhileness of life would never arise. But for every Whitman, there is a suicide, and a thinker of the dreary constitution of the poet James Thomson, author of "The City of Dreadful Night. In his address, James imagines himself in discussion with a would-be suicide whom he tries to persuade to take up his burden and see life through to its natural end.

James acknowledges that some of these suicides—perhaps the majority of them—are too far gone to have anything said to them, for instance, those whose suicidal impulses are due to insanity or sudden fits of frenzy. It is to the class of reflective would-be suicides—those disposed to kill themselves because of their thinking, reading, and brooding on the darker side of life—that James directs his remarks. It is these he wants to cheer up or comfort and keep alive. James speaks of two stages of recovery from suicidal illness.

The first stage includes three elements, three palliatives, for the suicidal condition. First, there is the thought, "You can end it whenever you will. But James thinks the thought can be a comfort. It means there's no particular guilt or stigma attached to suicide. It means one won't have to put up with this miserable world forever; one can opt out whenever one wants.

It may delay the act by encouraging the thought, "Why kill myself today when I can always do it tomorrow? It is worth hanging around a while longer in order to see the headlines of tomorrow's newspaper. Third, there is a certain fighting instinct in human beings. James thinks the normal man has a reason to go on, even if the whole thing is worthless and meaningless, as long as there is some injustice to be put right, some villain to be put down, or some evil to overcome in the little corner of the universe he inhabits.

The three things just mentioned all lie in the first stage of recovery, one that is partial and inferior to what lies in the second stage. The second stage is one of full recovery. It is the religious stage. It gives one assurance of a fully worthwhile and meaningful life. James's injunction is to believe—to believe in a supernatural, spiritual order of things which overcomes and makes right the deficiencies of the natural order as we know it.

We do not have rational or evidential proof that such a supernatural order exists. But Kant proved that natural science cannot prove that such an order does not exist. To make one's life worthwhile and meaningful, all one has to do is to posit faith in such an order, to believe that there is a spiritual realm in which all the wrongs of the natural order are righted. In that case, one will view the natural order as an inadequate representation of the spiritual, or as a veil through which the true and wonderful nature of the spiritual is hidden or obscured.

One need have little conception of what the spiritual realm is like. The content of the belief in it can be quite minimal.

All one needs to affirm is that there is such a realm and that its reality makes life worthwhile. James draws on two of the tenets of his pragmatism to support such an approach to the meaning and worthwhileness of life. One is the right to believe what we need to believe, even though it goes beyond belief warranted by empirical and rational evidence.

His classic case for the right of such belief is in his essay, "The Will to Believe. Another tenet of pragmatism on which James draws is the idea that belief is a matter of action. To believe something is not so much to have a certain mental state as to act in a certain way. Whatever is in one's mind, to act as though life is worthwhile and has meaning is to believe that it does.

In "What Makes a Life Significant" , James expressly addressed the question of the significance or meaning of life. What he said in this essay was rather different from what he had said in the previous one. The essay was in part a response to the deification of the uneducated, hard-working peasants in Tolstoy's Confession. James admired Tolstoy a great deal but felt he went a bit overboard in his praise of peasant life and in his tendency to identify it as the very locus of meaning. James held that the lives of Tolstoy's peasants were full of one ingredient necessary for a meaningful life—toil, struggle, pluck, will, suffering, manly virtues—but that they lacked the other necessary ingredient for a fully meaningful life, namely, what James called "ideals.

Toward the end of the essay, James gives his own view. He states it in two or three different ways, the sense of which seems to be the same. Ideal aspirations are not enough, when uncombined with pluck and will. There must be some sort of fusion, some chemical combination among these principles, for a life objectively and thoroughly significant to result. The solid meaning of life is always the same eternal thing,—the marriage, namely, of some unhabitual ideal, however special, with some fidelity, courage, and endurance; with some man's or woman's pains.

James is rather vague about what the "ideals" are, or even what they are like. In at least some cases they have something to do with culture and refinement, but it seems that they can and will vary from person to person, and may reside in some form in the uncultured and unrefined. In any event, it is noteworthy that James does not bring up the subject of religion. There is no suggestion that belief in God or a spiritual world is necessary for a fully meaningful life.

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They believe, for instance, that English tragedy is descended in a direct line from Greek tragedy, not perceiving that the tragedy of one nation is not the offspring of that of other nations, but the production of the environment, the civilisation, the intellectual life in the midst of which it comes into being. For the rst time, his works insurmountable nitude was identied as the source of both its greatest signicance and its greatest diculty. It strikes me that a lot of what Kierkegaard writes is first-person, even if disguised in various ways, and is telling you things about himself that other people might conceal. Views Read Edit View history. This is the real seducer; the aesthetic interest here is also different, namely: how , the method.

An ideal wedded to manly virtue is enough. The British philosopher Bertrand Russell is often portrayed as one of those early twentieth century analytic philosophers who had no patience for big questions, such as that of the meaning of life. The portrayal is often reinforced by the famous story of Russell and the cab-driver, to whom Russell had nothing to say about the meaning of life. It is true that Russell sometimes expressed a dismissive attitude toward the question: to Hugh Moorhead he said, "Unless you assume a God, the question of life's meaning is meaningless" Metz b: 23 , and to the taxi-driver he had indeed nothing to say about the meaning of life.

But elsewhere he seems to have taken the question very seriously. In "A Free Man's Worship," he begins with a fairly gloomy, despairing picture of the world science reveals to us, the only world there is, really. It is purposeless, void of meaning. The causes that produced us had no prevision of the end they were achieving.

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We ourselves, and everything precious to us, are the outcome of the accidental collocations of atoms. There is no life for the individual beyond the grave. The existence of our very species, along with all its achievements, will eventually be extinguished in the death of the solar system and "buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins. But the thing for us to do is to maintain our ideals against the hostile universe. That universe knows the value of raw power, and not much else. Let us not worship it, as did Nietzsche. In exalting the will to power, Nietzsche was failing to maintain the highest human ideals in the face of the cruel world; he was, in a sense, giving in, capitulating, prostrately submitting to evil, sacrificing his best to Moloch.

Let us be clear-sighted and honest. Let us recognize that the facts are often bad, that in the world we know there are many things that would have been better otherwise, that our ideals are not in fact realized in the world. But, again, in our minds and hearts, even though the whole business may be futile, let us tenaciously cling to our ideals, loving truth and beauty.

Let us renounce power. Let us worship only the God created by our own love of the good. Let us live constantly in the vision of the good. One trap we must guard against falling into is that which Russell would think Camus fell into some decades later. We should not cultivate and live in a spirit of fiery revolt, of fierce hatred of the senseless universe.

Why not? Because indignation is still a kind of bondage, for it compels our thoughts to be occupied with the evil world. Give up the indignation so that your thoughts can be free. From freedom of thought comes art, philosophy, and the vision of beauty. To achieve this we must develop a kind of detachment from our own personal happiness, must learn to free ourselves from the burden of concern for petty things and personal goods. To abandon the struggle for private happiness, to expel all eagerness of temporary desire, to burn with passion for eternal things--this is emancipation, and this is the free man's worship.

Russell In The Conquest of Happiness Russell makes a couple of remarks about the meaning of life that are worthy of note. The first is this:. The habit of looking to the future and thinking that the whole meaning of the present lies in what it will bring forth is a pernicious one. There can be no value in the whole unless there is value in the parts. Life is not to be conceived on the analogy of a melodrama in which the hero and heroine go through incredible misfortunes for which they are compensated by a happy ending. The second is odd but interesting, perhaps not the kind of thought that would occur to most people:.

And it is prone to hatred because it is dissatisfied, because it feels deeply, perhaps even unconsciously, that it has somehow missed the meaning of life, that perhaps others, but not we ourselves, have secured the good things which nature offers man's enjoyment. The thought seems to be that people hate each other because they think others have achieved or know? If that is true, one should be careful not to let on that he knows the meaning of life, even if he does.

Several writers have advocated focus and have thought of a life organized by one big project or goal as the paradigm case of a meaningful one. Russell rejects the idea. All our affections are at the mercy of death, which may strike down those whom we love at any moment. It is therefore necessary that our lives should not have that narrow intensity which puts the whole meaning and purpose of our life at the mercy of accident. For all these reasons the man who pursues happiness wisely will aim at the possession of a number of subsidiary interests in addition to those central ones upon which his life is built.

Finally, in "The Place of Science in a Liberal Education," Russell makes the now familiar point that the meaning of life must come not from without but from within. The search for an outside meaning that can compel an inner response must always be disappointed: all "meaning" must be at bottom related to our primary desires, and when they are extinct no miracle can restore to the world the value which they reflected upon it. Mysticism and Logic, ch.

That is not to say that the meaning of life is created or chosen as opposed to discovered. For our primary desires are something largely given, something if we are lucky we simply find in ourselves. Moritz Schlick was one of the central figures of the logical positivist movement. Thinkers in the movement are commonly said to have been dismissive of such "metaphysical" questions as that of the meaning of life. Yet Schlick for one was in no way dismissive. He described himself as a seeker of the meaning of life and wrote an extremely interesting essay on the topic in Schlick's contribution to the debate is to some one of the most appealing writings in the whole of the literature.

Schlick was aware of Schopenhauer's musings and was concerned to escape his dire conclusions. Schlick found his answer in his interpretation of Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra. The answer is that life can be meaningful only if it is freed from its subjugation to ends and purposes.

The suggestion is radical: a life has meaning only if it does not have some end or purpose to which everything is subordinated. Schlick argued that the meaning of life is to be found not in work but in play. Work, in the philosophical sense, is always something done not for its own sake but for the sake of something else, some end or purpose that is to be achieved. Most often that end is the survival and perpetuation of life—that is, more work functioning only to perpetuate the life of the species. But it is absurd to take the meaning of life to lie in the continued survival of the species, or in the work required to make that survival possible.

The meaning of life must lie in the content of existence, not in bare existence as such. What then is the meaning of life? One candidate that suggests itself is feelings of pleasure and happiness. But Schlick rejects that candidate, partly on the grounds that pleasure is likely only to lead to the satiety and boredom which Schopenhauer so vividly made us aware of. Schlick also rejects the ideal of happiness as the meaning of life by way of the observation that man is essentially an active creature for which a life of idle pleasure is by no means suitable.

What Schlick ends up saying is that the meaning of life is to be found in play, that is, in activity engaged in for its own glorious sake and not for the furtherance of some further end or goal. Doing something only in order to produce some further end or goal is work, and work cannot be the meaning of life. Of course, work is necessary for human existence and thriving, but it is meaningful only if it can—and it can be—turned into play, something one would do with delight even if nothing came of it in the end. Schlick backs off from saying that the meaning of life is play.

Instead, he says that the meaning of life is youth , since youth is the period of life in which play predominates. A nice consequence of this position is the fact that a life cut short in its infancy or youth is a meaningful life. If you are killed when you are ten years old, it is likely that you lived a life full of meaning.

One other aspect of Schlick's view should be mentioned. It is that youth is not literally a matter of how long one has lived on this earth. If an old fellow turns his work into play, if he performs it primarily for the sake of the sheer joy of doing it, then he is young in the sense that matters.

The key to a fully meaningful life would be to stay forever young. The Bengali Indian poet, short-story writer, novelist, dramatist, artist, sage, and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore , often credited with a major role in the cross-fertilization of East and West, won the Nobel Prize in literature in He wrote in English sometimes. He knew the works of Einstein, Yeats, Wordsworth, and a host of other Western thinkers. In he delivered the Hibbert Lectures at Oxford, published the next year as The Religion of Man , a remarkable volume containing much reflection on the meaning of life.

This article will limit itself to consideration of a couple of points in that book. Tagore is interesting because his interest in the question of the meaning of life did not arise out of anything like the circumstances which seemed to create the interest in so many Western thinkers. Tagore was not well-off and bored, he did not suffer from depression and existential angst, he did not worry about the importance of his personal life in the vast scheme of things, he was not a professional academic philosopher. Tagore's tendency was to view the question of the meaning of life as the question, "What is man?

If he had a problem, it lay in the chaotic, hodgepodge nature of this everyday life. Not exactly seeking for a solution to the predicament, one came to him on an ordinary day on which he was just living his everyday life in east India. He gives a gripping and poetic account of it in chapter six of The Religion of Man. He writes:.

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Suddenly I became conscious of a stirring of soul within me. Tagore , One thing that is noteworthy in this is that Tagore felt he had seen the meaning of life, not when he realized that his life really mattered, or added up to something sub specie aeternitatus, nor when he came up with a view of things that rid him of his angst and depression, but rather when he found that his life was part of a great unity of meaning.

He saw meaning when everything, including his individual life, was one unified whole. A second feature of Tagore's conception of the meaning of life is the role he gives to detachment. The detachment that is relevant seems to be something like non-attachment to the petty concerns of one's own individual life. It is not a lack of concern for anything and everything.

It is lack of concern for how one's own individual, personal life fares. The appropriately detached person places his interest in how Man as the eternal being, or beings of any sort ultimately fare. There is an admirable concern for all life, not just human life in the thought of Tagore. The appropriately detached man loses concern for his personal triumphs and failures and cultivates an enlivening interest in the life of the whole, with which, instead of his personal life, he identifies himself. The result is a vast increase in the sense of meaningfulness in his own life.

A very different approach to the problem of the meaning of life was taken by the prominent logical positivist English philosopher A. Ayer Ayer argued, in an important paper, that "there is no sense in asking what is the ultimate purpose of our existence, or what is the real meaning of life" Ayer His argument is that there is no reason to believe in anything like a God who created us and intended us for a specific purpose.

And even if there were such a God, his purposes could not give life meaning unless we agreed with them and accepted them. Thus the meaning of life always comes back to what we as individuals purpose, value, and aim at. There is no meaning out there to be discovered. Ayer insists that the meaninglessness of life is nothing to cry about. One's life has whatever meaning one gives it. It just doesn't make sense to ask about the meaning of life because there is not, and could not be, such a thing.

The question "What is the meaning of life? But a person can give his life a meaning, and if he does, it will be meaningful to him. It will come down to the value judgments the person makes. And these are a matter of personal choice and preference. There is no sense in saying that one person's value judgments are true and another's false. Give your life a meaning, and that's the meaning it will have.

The dismissal of the question about the meaning of life which was characteristic of Ayer and his generation, and Camus's idea that meaninglessness doesn't matter, may be what ironically sparked the recent interest in the question. The natural philosophical response is that surely the question of the meaning of life is meaningful and important: in light of the remarks of Ayer, Camus, and their ilk, how is that so? A sense that the meaning of life must be a philosophical problem that matters has motivated work on the question of what the question of the meaning of life is all about, if we do not take Ayer's dismissive attitude and Camus's stance toward it.

The preceding survey brings us up to around , just before a veritable explosion of works on the meaning of life took place in philosophy, especially in the Anglo-analytic tradition. Those interested in this explosion should begin by consulting the excellent overviews in Thaddeus Metz's article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Metz and Joshua Seachris's article in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy Seachris Wendell O'Brien Email: w.

The Meaning of Life: Early Continental and Analytic Perspectives The question of the meaning of life is one that interests philosophers and non-philosophers alike. Background a.

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Questions about the Meaning of Life The most familiar form of the question s about the meaning of life is simply, "What is the meaning of life? The Broader Historical Background Although nineteenth century thinkers were the first in the West to put the question precisely in the form "What is the meaning of life? Nineteenth Century Philosophers Let us turn now to the story of what philosophers from Schopenhauer in the early s to Ayer and Camus in the s have had to say about the meaning of life.

Schopenhauer The first Western philosopher to link the ideas of life and meaning, and to ask expressly "What is the meaning of life? Kierkegaard A major nineteenth century European philosopher who continued the tradition of thought on the meaning of life was the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard Concluding Unscientific Postscript 4 A fourth idea about meaning in Kierkegaard is the idea that one can give one's life meaning, or that one can acquire meaning in life, by doing something like devoting oneself to something. Nietzsche Friedrich Nietzsche cut his philosophical teeth on Schopenhauer and devoted himself in his later works—from up to the onset of insanity in January —to struggle with, among other things, the meaning of life.

In The Will to Power, Nietzsche speaks of "the creative strength to create meaning," and he says: It is a measure of the degree of strength of will to what extent one can do without meaning in things, to what extent one can endure to live in a meaningless world because one organizes a small portion of it oneself. The Will to Power Whatever the meaning of life is, or is to be, it is terrestrial, not celestial. The Will to Power The mistake lies in projecting our own values onto reality, in thinking that our meaning and values are present in things as such. Thus Spake Zarathustra The Superman is the meaning of the earth.

Thus Spake Zarathustra The other answer is that the meaning of life is the will to power. All meaning is will to power. The Will to Power On the surface these two answers are different. Nietzsche, d. Tolstoy One of the next thinkers in the Western intellectual tradition to ask seriously the question, "What is the meaning of life? Here are some of them, listed in order of their occurrence in his Confession : What is it for? Some Common Aspects of the Lives of Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Tolstoy Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Tolstoy all had lives which rendered them virtual breeding grounds for problems with the meaning of life.

Early Twentieth Century Continental Philosophers In the early twentieth century questions about the meaning of life continued to be of interest to leading European or "Continental" philosophers. Heidegger The great German philosophy professor Martin Heidegger was certainly concerned with the meaning of life. Sartre The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre changed his views over the course of his life.

Camus Albert Camus , a Frenchman born in Algeria, was one of the leading existentialists though he himself disowned the label and one of the more influential writers of the first half of the twentieth century. James The American pragmatist philosopher William James , a Harvard professor, wrote a couple of interesting essays on our theme in the late s. Whatever is in one's mind, to act as though life is worthwhile and has meaning is to believe that it does In "What Makes a Life Significant" , James expressly addressed the question of the significance or meaning of life.

Russell The British philosopher Bertrand Russell is often portrayed as one of those early twentieth century analytic philosophers who had no patience for big questions, such as that of the meaning of life. Russell 61 In The Conquest of Happiness Russell makes a couple of remarks about the meaning of life that are worthy of note. The first is this: The habit of looking to the future and thinking that the whole meaning of the present lies in what it will bring forth is a pernicious one.

Schlick Moritz Schlick was one of the central figures of the logical positivist movement. Tagore The Bengali Indian poet, short-story writer, novelist, dramatist, artist, sage, and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore , often credited with a major role in the cross-fertilization of East and West, won the Nobel Prize in literature in He writes: Suddenly I became conscious of a stirring of soul within me. Tagore , 95 One thing that is noteworthy in this is that Tagore felt he had seen the meaning of life, not when he realized that his life really mattered, or added up to something sub specie aeternitatus, nor when he came up with a view of things that rid him of his angst and depression, but rather when he found that his life was part of a great unity of meaning.

Ayer A very different approach to the problem of the meaning of life was taken by the prominent logical positivist English philosopher A. Conclusion The dismissal of the question about the meaning of life which was characteristic of Ayer and his generation, and Camus's idea that meaninglessness doesn't matter, may be what ironically sparked the recent interest in the question.

References and Further Reading Ayer, A. Klemke ed. New York: Oxford University Press, Originally published in Baier, K. Originally published in Camus, A. O'Brien tr. Originally published in French in Carlyle, T. Fraser's Magazine. Heidegger, M. Being and Time. Macquarrie and J. Robinson trs. Oxford: Blackwell, Originally published in German in James, W. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 49— Reprinted in William James: Writings New York: The Library of America, Kierkegaard, S.

Nearly unprecedented in its ability to illuminate the philosophical and literary underpinnings of Kierkegaard's text, the book is at once learned, lively, probing, and persuasive. There is certainly nothing idle in the way 'Chatter' situates as well as takes the measure of the seminal importance of Kierkegaard for many of today's unresolved debates about the relation of language and philosophy of history.

Loeb and David F. Tinsley, Edited by Alan D. Schrift and Duncan Large.