Friday, 17 July 2020

Meaning of Life 2020

Tuesday 21st July, 15:35: R. T. Allen of the British Personalist Forum will be presenting a paper at the 3rd International Conference on Philosophy at the Meaning of Life.

Some Possible Meanings of ‘the Meaning of Life’ and of ‘the Meaninglessness of Life'

Discussions of ‘The meaning of life’ have often been distorted by the very wording of the topic, which wrongly assumes that life can have only one meaning. Obviously many different accounts of the meaning of life have been suggested, and these can be classified as, for example, secularist and theist. But the very wording of the question suggests that these types of meaning, and the particular versions of each, are all mutually exclusive. This paper aims to show that, there are also categories of meaningfulness and meaninglessness; that these can be, and usually are, combined; and that this is a necessary feature of any type of meaning and the particular instances of them. This will be shown by first listing the categories and then giving examples of how different particular examples combine at least some of these categories, either explicitly or implicitly, so that they envisage human existence as having one or more aspects that are meaningful in one way and others that are meaningless in another way. It builds on some recently acknowledgements of some of the ways in which world-and-life-views are structured. For example, the meanings of ‘meaning’ have been differentiated: e.g. signifying what will follow, intentions, intended signifying, and value. The last is clearly implied in any answer to the correct formulation of the question, ‘What are the meanings and lacks of meaning in human life?’, which asks for what is of value and what lacks value, but without indicating what those values may be and what embodies or could embody them. Another set of categories have also been distinguished: ‘cosmic’, of the whole universe, and ‘individualist’, of or for individuals. In turn ‘generic’ meanings, those applicable to all persons, and individual ones, applicable just to one person, and that a generic one, such as to develop one’s talents, admits individual ones. Furthermore it has been acknowledged that several meanings can be attached simultaneously to human life and that there are questions of why do the universe, human beings, and oneself exist, and for what purpose, if any. To these further categories will be added and exemplified, to give a more comprehensive and systematic account of the possible meanings and meaningless of human life.

The conference will be held entirely online, obviously, and is, by all accounts, free to attend. To register:

Conference Website:


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