Journal of Philosophy of Life

An international peer-reviewed open access journal dedicated to the philosophy of life, death, and nature, supported by the Research Institute for Environmental Philosophy and Philosophical Anthropology, Osaka Prefecture University


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Agreement and Sympathy
: On Metz’s Meaning in Life

Sho Yamaguchi

Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.5, No.3 (October 2015):66-89



In this paper I argue that we can appreciate the real worth of Thaddeus Metz’s recent book Meaning in Life just by regarding it as the product of his existential struggle in our endless quest for life’s meaning. In other words, we could not understand in what respect Metz’s work is valuable if we read it from the purely analytical-theoretical perspective. My paper is, therefore, meant to challenge the idea of ‘analytic study on meaningfulness’. My general suggestion is that the analytic philosophers should go beyond their narrow theoretical concerns when they tackle the philosophical problem about life’s meaning, because, I argue, what fundamentally matters in our perennial conversation on life’s meaning is, not our universal agreement about the view on the condition for a life’s being meaningful, but rather our mutual encouragement in devoting our lives to various meaningful activities. I suggest, particularly, that Metz’s philosophical investigation is in fact piloted by his deep practical-existential concern to make his own life meaningful, and so we should not be preoccupied with his overt theoretical interests when we read the book in question. We should rather pay a significant amount of attention to how much the author cares about his own life’s meaning in dedicating himself to the philosophical study on meaningfulness, because we would thereby be in a position to say that the real worth of Metz’s study should consist in encouraging and enabling us to cherish a hope for making our own lives more meaningful by undertaking the philosophical search for life’s meaning.

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