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January 20, 2010

meaning of life

Appropriations posting

The meaning of one’s life? A meaning?—for one’s life?

A distinction can be made between meaning and significance—or literal meaning of something and a broader/deeper sense of it—narrow scale and wide scale. Doesn’t one have in mind, by using the phrase “meaning of life,” a concern for a significance of a life? meaningfulness?

The/A meaningfulness of/for my life or a person’s life is very much about a living individuality or identity-in-time, living—living out its sense of meaningfulness. I say that as if stipulating it, but I don’t intend that.

Individuality as identity-in-time: Is this about living for the sake of an anticipated future (e.g., actualizing a potential) or is it about living for the sake of a secured past (e.g., exemplifying a legacy)? A good life is both, of course; some balance. Someone who could be rightly called traditionalist (or “conservative,” in a pre-political sense) might give prevailing place to legacy. Someone who could be rightly called modernist (or liberal) might give prevailing place to idealism. But ideals belong to legacy, too (e.g., classical humanism); so distinctions such as conservatism and liberalism dissolve in, for example, competing ideals about a future.

Well, you see I easily start getting ahead of myself. The simple story is about everyone wanting meaningfulness, in some sense, likely relative to culture and individual background.

I’ll try to keep things neat. I’m glad to be alive! I’ll sketch that relative to three scales of horizon—near-term, mid-term, and long-term—but, for now, I won’t pretend to be comprehensive. There is no Essence (no essentialist conception) of how a life grows well.

In the near term, I want memorable enjoyment. Mid-term, I want a high quality of life. Long term, well, I want participation in lastingness or legacy. Originating a legacy would be nice.

So, what is the nature of enjoyment? (Is that question even sensible?) What is a very good way to understand “high quality of life”? What’s worth lasting?

For me, the meaningfulness of life is, at least, a matter of memorable enjoyment in a high quality of life that relates to some lasting importance.

You might easily feel that there are countless ways of capsulating the meaningfulness of a life. A discursive sense of this might be about the array of very good ways we may think of meaningfulness, perhaps as ultimately some exemplarity of humanity or Conversation of humanity, gathered best within literary studies. “I was a teenage classic.” (I don’t know why that came to mind just now, except that I “struggle” to resist a lasting teen within.)

I seek to live with good sense, which might be understood relative to some holism of well-being. I want to live brightly, with self-determining efficacy. I love the concept of individuation, and I want to advance ambitious senses of individuation.

Is a good life one that gravitates toward a prevailing Project? Can interest in the notion of meaningfulness be usefully made very ambitious? Can a notion of living fruitfully be usefully developed which makes life a working art?

I want secure ethicality in artful living, while loving creative exuberance. I want to articulate a high-scale humanism, some grand feeling for human flourishing that can be conceptualized, never finally defined, yet an endlessly appealing venture of shared prospecting and building. I want to know our horizons of conceptual plausibility.