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The Possibility of Meaning in Human Evolution

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Science undermines the certitude of non-naturalistic answers to the question of whether human life has meaning. I explore whether evolution can provide a naturalistic basis for existential meaning. Using the work of philosopher Daniel Dennett and scientist Ursula Goodenough, I argue that evolution is the locus of the possibility of meaning because it has produced intentionality, the matrix of consciousness. I conclude that the question of the meaning of human life is an existentialist one: existential meaning is a product of the individual and collective tasks human beings undertake.
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Keywords: biology; consciousness; emergence; emergent functions; evolution; existence; existentialism; intentionality; language; life; life forms; meaning; naturalism; organisms; philosophy; purpose; reductionism; religion; science; self-consciousness; significance; species; symbol; value; worldview

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Southeastern Louisiana University

Publication date: 2000-12-01

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