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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Deep Personal Meaning
: A Subjective Approach to Meaning in Life

Drew Chastain

Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.11, No.1 (June 2021):1-23




Much has been written about what makes life in general or individual lives meaningful. Yet meaning judgments are aimed not only at lives, but also at things in life. Here I explore what elicits the judgment that things in life are personally meaningful, “things” such as people, relationships, memories, items, places, events, etc. On my account of personal meaning judgments, what makes something personally meaningful is that it provides a sense of connection for the one making the judgment. I begin by further exploring what is meant by “connection” and then show that, once we make room for personal meaning judgments in our theory of meaning in life, we can set up a new critical perspective on prior theories, such as those by Susan Wolf and Thaddeus Metz. Unfortunately, prior theories fail to guide us toward the important kind of meaning that we gain from personally meaningful things.

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