18.1 Overview: Philosophy and the meaning of Life
- Understand why people think questions concerning the meaning of human existence are extremely important and relevant.
- Understand why and how examining the question of life’s meaning is personal.
- Explain the difference between external and internal meaning.
18.2 Pessimism: Life Has No Meaning
- Summarize the pessimistic views of Tolstoy, Schopenhauer, and Darrow.
- Critically examine the case for pessimism and for optimism.
- Assess Baggini’s charge that pessimists confuse external and internal meaning.
18.3 Optimism: Life Can Have Meaning
- Explain the religious externalist approach to life’s meaning.
- Critically examine Tolstoy’s view and his justification for it.
- Explain why some philosophers think the notion of a God assigning a purpose to humans should be objectionable to believers and nonbelievers alike.
- Summarize the internalist’s position on life’s meaning and produce an argument for or against it.
- Devise an argument for the idea that death and the ephemeral nature of human endeavors are irrelevant to the meaningfulness or meaningless of a person’s existence.