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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If Goldfish Give Us Meaning in Life, What’s Next?
: A Critique of Susan Wolf’s Meaning in Life and Why It Matters

Nathaniel Serio

Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.10, No.1 (July 2020):120-133




In her widely influential and popular book Meaning in Life and Why It Matters, Susan Wolf formulates a hybrid theory of our ability to have meaning in life. She originally argues, meaning in life arises from loving objects worthy of love and engaging with them in a positive way. I show that Wolf ends up crucially shifting her view from this original version to a revised version that she presents in her response to Nomy Arpaly and Johnathan Haidt’s commentaries. Following this, I argue Wolf’s account of meaning in life has very serious, possibly irrevocable, flaws because it structurally allows for a series of cases that are inconsistent with what she wishes to defend on the whole. .

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