I understand “feeling connected to others”, “having a goal”, “enjoying”, “feeling contributory”. I understand “the meaning of a story” or “the meaning of a word”, but what the heck does “meaning of life” mean?
I must say, I’ve not had a feeling of “meaninglessness” that I hear many other people describe — maybe I’ve been lucky. But also, I don’t feel “meaningful”. The whole concept is a little bizarre to me. “Meaning”, when applied to an abstract thing called “life”, seems odd. And I have never had a felt need to discover a meaning in life even when I was religious.
I think some people mean “satisfactory” when they use the word. When they are seeking the meaning of life, they are seeking satisfaction. And when they think they have found the meaning of life, then they have satisfaction of some sort.
So when Christian say “Life without God is meaningless”, I generously translate this to say, “I love my Christian culture/identity/worldview” or “I feel so connected to others now” or “I am more satisfied now that I don’t fear that I will die and just disappear — or worse yet, go to hell.” And they call all those feelings “meaningful”.
Question for readers: Do you think about the meaning of life — I don’t. How would you translate the phrase when used by a religious person?
Credits & More:
- See Hertzfeldt’s bizarre film “The meaning of life” from which my pic is lifted (12 min)
- Or see this inappropriately cynical YouTube bit: “The Meaning of Life” (4 min)
- Cris Campbell shares Bruce Charlton’s essay here and agrees with him that hunter-gatherer animists “altogether lack” the meaninglessness found amongs us modernists. He equates meaninglessness to alienation which is characterized by “dislocation, anomie, senselessness, emptiness, lack of purpose etc. Campbell and Charlton fell that our economic system is the cause of this dilemma.
- This post was inspired by reading Cris’ post and Bible Warrioress post that says “Life is Pointless without God.”