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ONE ENCHANTED BEING: NEUROEXISTENTIALISM AND MEANING

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Abstract.

The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World is my attempt to explain whether and how existential meaning is possible in a material world, and how such meaning is best conceived naturalistically. Neuroexistentialism conceives of our predicament in accordance with Darwin plus neuroscience. The prospects for our kind of being-in-the-world are limited by our natures as smart but fully embodied short-lived animals. Many find this picture disenchanting, even depressing. I respond to four criticisms of my relentless upbeat naturalism: that naturalism can make no room for norms, for values; that I overvalue truth at the expense of happiness; that I underestimate the extent to which supernaturalism has made peace with naturalism; and that I can give no account for why humans as finite animals should want to overcome our given natures and seek impersonal, self-transcendent value.
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Keywords: eudaimonia; eudaimonics; naturalism; neuroexistentialism; supernaturalism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, and Professor of Neurobiology at Duke University, Durham NC 27701.

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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