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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Metz’s Quest for the Holy Grail

James Tartaglia

Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.5, No.3 (October 2015):90-111



This paper is a critique of the new paradigm in analytic philosophy for investigating the meaning of life, focusing on Meaning in Life as the definitive example. Metz relies upon intuition, and reflection upon recent analytic literature, to guide him to his ‘fundamentality theory’. He calls this a theory of ‘the meaning of life’, saying it may be ‘the holy grail’. I argue that Metz’s project is not addressed to the meaning of life, but a distinct issue about social meaning; and that by neglecting and sidelining alternative approaches, his results are rendered provisional. I then argue that there are a number of equally legitimate senses of a ‘socially meaningful life’; that Metz’s exclusive and unjustified focus on only one radically diminishes the scope of his project; and that what remains is undermined by cultural specificity. Finally, I argue that the Kripkean semantics Metz adopts runs counter to his interests.

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