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By Stewart Goetz

What does philosophy need to say at the query of the that means of lifestyles? this can be one of many founding questions of philosophy and has remained a important challenge for philosophers from antiquity via to the center a long time and sleek interval.

It could shock a few readers that there has, in truth, been a great deal of contract at the solution to this query: the which means of lifestyles is happiness.

The objective of existence is a major yet attractive exploration and protection of this solution. The imperative concept that shapes the aim of existence is Augustine's statement that "It is the made up our minds opinion of all who use their brains that each one males wish to be happy." In operating throughout the ramifications of this solution, Stewart Goetz presents a survey of the debates surrounding life's that means, from either theists and atheists alike.

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Extra resources for The Purpose of Life: A Theistic Perspective

Sample text

But given the centrality of the concept of perfect happiness, considerations of time at least do not end up being completely irrelevant to avoiding a deeply absurd life. For example, given that the purpose of life is that one experience the intrinsic goodness of perfect happiness and there cannot be any reason why one would wish for that experience to cease once it had commenced (I will have more to say about this issue in Chapter 2), one must conclude that if perfect happiness is experienced in time, then it must be a state of existence without end.

Understood in another way, it seems obviously false. What is the eminently reasonable understanding? Well, it could be that someone like Mother Teresa’s life was good and worthwhile in the sense that her work brought bodily and spiritual good to others. In the terms defined in Chapter 1, Mother Teresa’s life was instrumentally good and worthwhile for others. But was it good and worthwhile for her (what Flanagan calls the “subjective point of view”)? This is a different matter. From what we now know, the answer would appear to be that it was not (and if it was not, this illustrates the way in which Flanagan’s claim seems obviously false).

Though it is certainly hard to get one’s mind around this idea, the idea itself is not incoherent. Another relatively straightforward objection to the view that life’s meaning is to experience perfect happiness concedes the coherence of the concept of perfect happiness but asserts that one does not desire to be perfectly happy for its own sake. However, to claim that one does not desire to be happy for its own sake just seems implausible. For example, consider the following thoughts by the philosopher Kai Nielsen, who is no friend of the view of the meaning of life that I am presenting and defending in this book: 40 the Purpose of Life I shall, for a moment, as seems to me appropriate in this context, speak personally… .

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