Existentialist Meaning Essay--Please help

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Reply Sat 6 Mar, 2010 05:08 pm
This is the opening to an essay I am writing:

Radical Freedom: Source of Meaning or Cause of Chaos?

The song Dust in the Wind by the rock group Kansas, heard here: Kansas - Dust In The Wind Mp3 Download Free is a song that depicts human actions as ultimately futile and insignificant, comparing them to "dust in the wind". Some have echoed such a claim, including many religious philosophers, who place emphasis on the will of a god to grant human life meaning over those individual pursuits meant to bring about meaning. Others, many of whom are associated with existentialism including Jean-Paul Sartre, have made the case that it is not the work of an outside driving force that grants human life meaning, but instead it is our own responsibility as radically free agents to forge our own meaning in life by way of our choices. Within the framework of the radical free-will espoused by existentialists such as Sartre, to what extent is meaningful life possible?, and if so, would it is possible to objectively gauge the meaningfulness of ones life?


I have been having a difficult time finding philosophers who address the philosophical questions I am exploring.
I was wondering if anyone here could point me in the right direction with philosophers/philosophical positions that address the question: "Within the framework of the radical free-will espoused by existentialists such as Sartre, to what extent is meaningful life possible?".
For my essay I need to explore 2-3 positions on a given philosophical question and examine their strengths and weaknesses.
Or...should I go in a different direction and modify my question/use a different question to explore?
Thanks so much for the help.
 
Fido
 
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2010 05:56 am
@jcraw119,
It is not human action which is futile, but individual action which is futile... And while we consider freedom to be a quality experienced and enjoyed by individual people, it is not... Socieities are free, just as societies are moral, and people are free and moral because they belong, in fact free and moral as the price of belonging to their societies...No person, in fact, can be free if not moral, or the immorality will destroy the basis of freedom in mutual self respect... If people are free of obnoxious government then they must themselves show self control and self restraint, and these are qualities all people must practice and know before even the most basic freedom is possible... Yet, your question about meaning has nothing to do with freedom...

It is a mistake to invest the stuff of this world with meaning, and to seek meaning...That is your dust in the wind... Life is meaning, and slaves recognize this as fully as masters, because both will surrender freedom to have life, and will give up all the stuff of life to have life... It is only with life that we have meaning, and there, as with all forms, meaning is a form of relationship... We share that meaning called life while we live...

We can see the meaning in the physical world... A comet has meaning, and so has a bullet... Everything having being has a certain meaning in relation to all other objects...But what is behind that meaning is the ultimate meaning to people, which is life, and the scale of value we apply to physical objects results from their likely effect on our lives...

But physical objects play an almost insignificant part in our lives, simply because we have mastered the physical world... But we are all troubled with the moral/spiritual world... What is freedom???? What is Morality??? What is God??? What is virtue, and what is good??? Our effort to define these moral and spiritual forms is wasted because each is an infinite... These qualities do not have being, and yet each has meaning, if not the same meaning to each of us...Why do we fight over freedom or God???

These qualities without being, that have so much meaning that we will die for them we value, that is, find meaning in, as with physical objects, in relation to our own lives...If we realize that people die for the want of freedom, or die from the want of morality, or die because their notion of God is not accepted then we can see in life the source of all meaning... It is the effect of moral ideas on life that gives them rank and classification in our hierarchy of meaning
 
jgweed
 
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2010 09:08 am
@jcraw119,
Within the framework of the radical free-will espoused by existentialists such as Sartre, to what extent is meaningful life possible?

I think you need to explain first what you mean by "meaningful" or perhaps choose a different phrase. You also need to decide whether "meaningful" applies to one's own view of one's life, or Other's views of it.

A good avenue to follow might be the place "authenticity" plays in Sartrean ethics, and whether taking responsibility for one's actions in an authentic way gives meaning to life.

You might wish to explore a slightly different question, to wit: to what extent can an individual be responsible for his actions? Sartre's position can then be contrasted with, for example, the Stoic position that while many things are outside one's own control, one's attitude toward these is not.
 
Insty
 
Reply Sun 7 Mar, 2010 10:27 pm
@jcraw119,
jcraw119;137015 wrote:


I was wondering if anyone here could point me in the right direction with philosophers/philosophical positions that address the question: "Within the framework of the radical free-will espoused by existentialists such as Sartre, to what extent is meaningful life possible?"

Possibly Albert Camus, "The Myth of Sisyphus."
 
Fido
 
Reply Mon 8 Mar, 2010 06:17 am
@jcraw119,
Life is meaning...It is lfe that gives meaning to all things of life...The notion of a meaningful life is dense since for the living there is no such thing as a meaningless life... Every life to the person living it is all, and with a certain level of luxury and reflection they may desire better, but no life is without meaning... So, meaningful, in regard to life is a false and misleading thought, which requires the most subjective judgements upon the lives of others... Only ask yourself what you would give to have life...Some might surrender life for religion, another for gold, but most commonly they will trash the lives of others to have both gold and religion, and it is this willingness common to all of humanity that most causes people to question the meaning of life...
 
Justin
 
Reply Wed 10 Mar, 2010 09:20 am
@jcraw119,
The original post was restored as the entire thread is useless if the OP is deleted.

FYI, it's not fair to the other members involved in this thread to create a thread, get responses, then delete them. Please be considerate of those who have taken the time to respond.
 
 

 
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