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Exploring the Meaning of Life


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Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors viii Preface x Personal Acknowledgments xii Acknowledgments xiii General Introduction 1 Joshua W. Seachris Section I Understanding the Question of Life's Meaning 21 Introduction 23 Thaddeus Metz 1.1 Why 29 Paul Edwards 1.2 Untangling the Questions 40 Garrett Thomson 1.3 Questions about the Meaning of Life 48 R. W. Hepburn 1.4 Philosophy and the Meaning of Life 62 Robert Nozick 1.5 The Concept of a Meaningful Life 79 Thaddeus Metz 1.6 Assessing Views of Life: A Subjective Affair? 95 Arjan Markus Section II What Does God Have to Do with the Meaning of Life? 113 Introduction 115 John Cottingham 2.1 Ecclesiastes 121 2.2 On Living in an Atomic Age 133 C. S. Lewis 2.3 Is the Existence of God Relevant to the Meaning of Life? 138 Jeffrey Gordon 2.4 The Absurdity of Life without God 153 William Lane Craig 2.5 Is Nature Enough? 173 John Haught 2.6 Religion and Value: The Problem of Heteronomy 183 John Cottingham 2.7 Could God's Purpose Be the Source of Life's Meaning? 200 Thaddeus Metz Section III The Loss of Meaning in a World Without God: Pessimistic Naturalism 219 Introduction 221 Garrett Thomson 3.1 On the Vanity of Existence 227 Arthur Schopenhauer 3.2 A Free Man's Worship 230 Bertrand Russell 3.3 The Absurd 236 Thomas Nagel 3.4 Why Coming into Existence Is Always a Harm 245 David Benatar 3.5 Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament 262 Thomas Nagel Section IV Finding Meaning in a World Without God: Optimistic Naturalism 275 Introduction 277 Erik J. Wielenberg 4.1 The Human World 282 John Kekes 4.2 Time and Life's Meaning 296 Richard Taylor 4.3 The Meanings of Lives 304 Susan Wolf 4.4 Intrinsic Value and Meaningful Life 319 Robert Audi 4.5 God and the Meaning of Life 335 Erik J. Wielenberg 4.6 The Varieties of Non-Religious Experience 353 Richard Norman 4.7 Emergent Religious Principles 367 Ursula Goodenough Section V The Meaning of Life and the Way Life Ends: Death, Futility, and Hope 371 Introduction 373 John Martin Fischer 5.1 A Confession 380 Leo Tolstoy 5.2 Annihilation 388 Steven Luper-Foy 5.3 Why Immortality Is Not So Bad 404 John Martin Fischer 5.4 The Immortality Requirement for Life?s Meaning 416 Thaddeus Metz 5.5 Human Extinction and the Value of Our Efforts 428 Brooke Alan Trisel 5.6 Free Will, Death, and Immortality: The Role of Narrative 445 John Martin Fischer 5.7 Death, Futility, and the Proleptic Power of Narrative Ending 461 Joshua W. Seachris 5.8 Divine Hiddenness, Death, and Meaning 481 Paul K. Moser

About the Author

Joshua W. Seachris (PhD, University of Oklahoma) isAdjunct Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Wake Forest Universityin North Carolina, as well as Grant Administrator for The CharacterProject, which aims to map the contours of the human character byfunding key research in philosophy, psychology and theology. He isthe author of peer-reviewed articles on a range of topics inphilosophy, including the problem of evil, Confucius and virtue,the meaning of life, and death. His work has appeared in theInternational Journal for Philosophy of Religion, AsianPhilosophy, Philo, Religious Studies, and theInternet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. With Section Introductions by: John Cottingham (DPhil, Oxford University) is ProfessorEmeritus of Philosophy at the University of Reading, ProfessorialResearch Fellow at Heythrop College, University of London, and anHonorary Fellow of St John's College, Oxford. His recent titlesinclude On the Meaning of Life (Routledge, 2003), TheSpiritual Dimension (Cambridge University Press, 2005),Cartesian Reflections (Oxford University Press, 2008), andWhy Believe? (Continuum, 2009). He is editor of theinternational philosophical journal Ratio. John Martin Fischer (PhD, Cornell University) isDistinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophyat the University of California, Riverside, where he has held aUniversity of California President's Chair (2006 10). He isthe editor of The Metaphysics of Death (Stanford UniversityPress, 1993), and many of his articles on death, immortality, andthe meaning of life are collected in his Our Stories: Essays onLife, Death, and Free Will (Oxford University Press, 2011). Thaddeus Metz (PhD, Cornell University) is ResearchProfessor of Philosophy at the University of Johannesburg, SouthAfrica. His work on developing and evaluating theoreticalapproaches to what makes a life meaningful has appeared in suchjournals as American Philosophical Quarterly, Ethics,Ratio, Religious Studies, and Utilitas. His book,Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study, will be published byOxford University Press in 2012. Garrett Thomson (DPhil, Oxford University) teachesphilosophy at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, where heholds the Compton Chair. He is the author of several books,including On Kant (Wadsworth, 2003), On the Meaning ofLife (Wadsworth 2002), Una Introduccion a laPractica de la Filosofia (PanAmericana, 2002),Bacon to Kant (Waveland Press, 2001), On Leibniz(Wadsworth, 2001), and Needs (Routledge, 1987). With DanielKolak, he co-edited the six volumes of the LongmanStandard History of Philosophy (Longman's Press, 2006). Heis chief executive officer of the Guerrand-Hermes Foundationfor Peace. Erik J. Wielenberg (PhD, University ofMassachusetts-Amherst) is Associate Professor of Philosophy atDePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. He is the author of Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe (Cambridge UniversityPress, 2005) and God and the Reach of Reason (CambridgeUniversity Press, 2007).

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