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The Meaning of Life Paperback – September 9, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0195127034 ISBN-10: 019512703X Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (September 9, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019512703X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195127034
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.7 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #619,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"An excellent introduction to questions of ultimate concern. Valuable to students of existentialism and analytic philosophy alike. This book traverses all boundaries in its carefully chosen readings."--S.N. Frantantaro, Providence College

"Fills the gap between the student's introduction to primary source material and secondary sources. Wonderfully crafted for the undergraduate who questions his/her own existence as well as the young theologian."--M.D. Tschaape, Indiana Institute of Technology

"A good collection of readings that deal with this significant philosophical issue. It is nice to have selections from such twentieth-century philosophers as Bertrand Russell and Richard Taylor."--Stephen Joseph, Framingham State College

"The best text available on the subject."--Ruth Sample, University of New Hampshire

About the Author

E. D. Klemke is at Iowa State University.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Doug Walton on May 21, 2001
Klemke has produced a great set of essays on the meaning of life from a philsophical and historical perspective. Many of the essays--for example, by Tolstoy, Baier, Nielsen, and Ayer--are classics and "must reads." The selection of essays on the linguistic analysis of "meaning" were particularly good. The selections on Theism seemed to fall short of making a good case (But maybe that is just the nature of the area?!)
This book is highly recommended and worthy of being in any philosopher's library. But, it doesn't cover the full question of meaning in life. To truly get a comprehensive picture on the contemporary argument, one would want to also consider some more psychologically-oriented works such as Baumeister's "Meanings of Life" or von Glasersfeld's "Radical Constructivism" among others. Nonetheless, the philsophical and seminal arguments are well covered.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Brint Montgomery on May 20, 2003
Divides the field up into theistic responses, non-theistic responses, and questioning the question itself, i.e. Is the question, "What is the meaning of life?" a meaningful question? The essay vary in their approach, and I do think the theistic essays are a bit weaker than one would think need be the case. I have been doing a bit of thinking on the meaning of life, and I've been thinking about death as well. Not surprisingly, I have read several fine essays on the topic in Klemke's anthology. The one lesson I walk away with is that at the very least the small moment by moment plans and projects (set and mostly achieved, of course) are what make life meaningful. Perhaps a corollary of this is that even if all of life is a series of such projects, one should not fallaciously assume that the whole of life is, thereby, meaningful. The other way, the way of religion, where the grand scheme of things is meaningful, thus each event in life is meaningful, is even less satisfying upon investigation, even if more tempting to think. It's nice that Klemke has put together a resource for investigating whether and where life has meaning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Irfan A. Alvi TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 16, 2010
I recently read the book The Meaning of Life: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) by Terry Eagleton, and I reached some working conclusions. I decided to next read this book edited by E.D. Klemke to see if those working conclusions would be swayed at all. Generally, I would say that they weren't.

What are those working conclusions? Very briefly, life may have two kinds of meaning. One kind is external meaning, in the sense that what we do is ultimately and objectively important. I don't think we can establish any such meaning, nor can we even imagine what such a meaning would be like. Invoking God or some other transcendent conception doesn't work because we would still be left with the question of why God's plans and purposes should be considered important in themselves. But humility dictates that we acknowledge that our lives may still have an ultimate and objective importance which we can neither comprehend nor imagine. The second kind of meaning which life may have is internal meaning, in the sense that the stream of experience which constitutes our lives is subjectively satisfying; obviously, this refers to our present life, but it may also include a future life or lives, if such exist. We can't be sure that the first kind of meaning exists, but the second kind certainly does, so it makes sense to spend our lives doing what we find subjectively fulfilling (which doesn't exclude moral behavior, and more typically includes it). If both kinds of meaning exist, they may be compatible with each other, and one would certainly hope so. For more details, see my June 17, 2010 review of Eagleton's book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 7, 2000
Klemke admirably combines classic works with more contemporary approaches to the perennial philosophical problem of the meaning and significance of existence. The introductory essay and the division of the book into sections on the "Theistic Answer", "The Non-Theistic Answer", and "Questioning the Question" provide much-needed guidance for the reader grappling with the difficult issues raised by the authors. This second edition includes valuable new selections from Schopenhauer, Nielsen, Flanagan, and more. A great resource for both the professional philosopher and the amateur self-knowledge seeker.
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