On the Meaning of Life  book cover
1st Edition

On the Meaning of Life

ISBN 9780415248006
Published February 13, 2004 by Routledge
136 Pages

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Book Description

The question 'What is the meaning of life?' is one of the most fascinating, oldest and most difficult questions human beings have ever posed themselves. In an increasingly secularized culture, it remains a question to which we are ineluctably and powerfully drawn.
Drawing skillfully on a wealth of thinkers, writers and scientists from Augustine, Descartes, Freud and Camus, to Spinoza, Pascal, Darwin, and Wittgenstein, On the Meaning of Life breathes new vitality into one of the very biggest questions.

Table of Contents

Preface Chapter 1 The Question
The question that won't go away
Science and Meaning
Something rather than nothing
A Religious question?
Meaning after God
Man the Measure of All things?
Variety, MEaning and Evaluation
What Meaningfulness implies
Meaning and Morality
Humanity and Openess
Chapter 2 The Barrier to Meaning
The Void
The Challenge of Modernity
The Shadow of Darwin
Science, Religion and Meaning
Evolution and 'Blind' Forces
The 'Nastiness' of the Evolutionary Mechanism
Matter and Surplus Suffering
The Character of the Cosmos
Chapter 3 Meaning, Vulnerability and Hope
Morality and Achievement
Futility and Fragility
Religion and the Buoyancy of the Good
Vulnerability and Finitude
Spirituality and Inner Change
Doctrine and Praxis
From Praxis to FAith
Coda: Intimations of Meaning

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'Cottingham summarises arguments about morality, evolution ... with clarity.' - Steven Poole, The Guardian

'Students are often disappointed with contemporary philosophy for not engaging with the "big questions". They would not be disappointed with this book...The strength of this book lies in the way it handles a mass of philosophical, scientific, literary and religious thought.' - Church Times

'Elegantly written and accessible...Readers will appreciate Cottingham's clarity and his willingness to enter some difficult and complex areas of debate.' - The Philosophers' Magazine

'Lucid and provocative, rich with references and ideas . . . Cottingham takes things remarkably far for our day and age.' - International Philosophical Quarterly

'I strongly recommend this book to philosophers, theologians and educated readers. It is a distillation of much experience, scholarship and reflection and it is rare to find so much contained in so few pages. Whatever else I read in the coming months this will be one of my books of the year.' - John Haldane, The Tablet

'[An] admirable, concise and lucid book.' - Reviews in Religion and Theology

'If Cottingham is brusque he can also be invigorating, and he focuses very effectively on the most fertile question in the so-called philosophy of life: that the "precariousness of human life and happiness" is exactly what makes our life interesting.' - Jonathan Ree, Times Literary Supplement