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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The Meaning of Life
What We Mean by 'Meaning'

Aaron Brooks

Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.11, No.1 (June 2021):123-143




There are two types of arguments found in the literature on existential meaning: (1) debates over existential meaning as a concept; and (2) debates over conceptions of existential meaning. Concepts are what make a question possible – i.e. they are the more-formal definitions assumed by a question. Conceptions, on the other hand, are like answers to the question. This paper will focus on the first type of argument about the formal concept of meaning. I claim that existential meaning is a valuable connection between a life and something valuable. I draw this concept mainly from the work of Robert Nozick, who claims meaning arises as a person seeks to connect to external values. However, due to objections considered in this paper, I contend that ‘meaning’ denotes valuable connections to value(s), period. At the end of this paper, I defend this concept against a major objection.

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