Journal of Philosophy of Life

An international peer-reviewed open access journal dedicated to the philosophy of life, death, and nature, supported by the Project of Philosophy and Contemporary Society, Advanced Research Center for Human Sciences, Waseda University


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‘Life is Meaningless.’ Compared to What?

Damian Veal

Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.7, No.1 (July 2017):208-260




James Tartaglia argues that the question of the meaning of life, when properly construed, is ‘the keystone of philosophy,’ that which ‘locks its traditional preoccupations in place’ and ‘allows them to bear weight in an intellectual culture dominated by science.’ He also argues that we ought to reject the question’s premise and conclude that ‘life is meaningless.’ This paper critically examines what Tartaglia calls ‘the real question of the meaning of life’ and its implications. It concludes that Tartaglia provides no good reasons for maintaining that his version of the question is not, in the words of his imaginary interlocutor, ‘a philosophical dead-end,’ but that there is a broader sense of the question that might indeed qualify as a fundamental wellspring of philosophical inquiry.

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