Many of us experience the activities which fill our everyday lives as meaningful, and to do so we must (and do) hold them to be important. However, reflection seems to undercut this meaningfulness: our activities are aimed at ends which are arbitrary, those activities are themselves insignificant, and leave little of any real permanence. The aim of this paper is to explore whether this discrepancy is inevitable, and in particular to examine recent formulations of the old idea that we can transcend it by forming attachments less susceptible to being undercut. The paper contrasts the life of doing good (devoted, for example, to working for a moral cause) and the life of knowing good (devoted to the appreciation of the so-called ‘higher’ things in life, such as art and science) as ways of finding meaning.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: University of NewcastleCallaghan NSW 2308AUSTRALIA, Email: Joseph.Mintoff@newcastle.edu.au
Publication date: March 1, 2008