What is the meaning of life 66

Terry Eagleton: The Purpose of Life

Terry Eagleton: The Purpose of Life. Ullstein Verlag (Munich) 2008. 157 pages. ISBN 978-3-550-08720-2. D: 18.00 EUR, A: 18.50 EUR, CH: 32.90 sFr.

Original title: The meaning of life.
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Is the question of the meaning of life a pointless question?

Hey, hey, some will say, what's that pointless question. The meaning of life is to be found in living as a good, perhaps religious person, in being one with oneself and one's environment, in existing happily and contentedly. Others, on the other hand, will straighten up, pat themselves proudly on the chest and say: to have success and power, to be able to afford everything you want in life (they usually say consciously or forgetfully not what you need to live) . Still others will dismiss it scornfully (or arrogantly) and say: The question of the meaning of life is a sham question because it is not an actual question. There are certainly also those who react to it like this: The meaning of life is for people to subdue and use the (surrounding) world with the aim of becoming-ever-further-ever-higher-ever-more.


We can already see: The question about the meaning of life is like looking for a special trouser button in a general store (if it is not a button store), or asking a chic salesperson in a picky boutique: "Do you have hamburgers too?" The 66 year old professor of English literature at the University of Manchester, Terry Eagletonwho, as he emphatically emphasizes, is not a philosopher, sets out to search for the (nonsensical?) question about the meaning of life, philosophical and intelligent. But whether it is the question of all (human) questions, or whether it is a useless undertaking, he does not give us an answer. After all, he confronts us with a counter-question: Where does it come from that people ask the question about the meaning of life "in times when roles, convictions and conventions that were previously considered to be secure are in crisis"? Because we have lost "certainties" or "beliefs", "authorities" ...? Because people thought that the question of the meaning of life did not even arise because it was taken for granted, handed down and based on the traditions of life? Because we have lost our "values"? The question about the meaning of life is bundled in questions about questions; and then we do not find possible answers, or we find them in esoteric, spiritualistic, eventual, materialistic and consumeristic temptations. That sounds like cultural criticism - and it is! But Terry Eagleton doesn't dwell on it for too long. He directs the surprising turn of his question with the help of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein one when he states, "What if the meaning of life was something we shouldn't discover at any cost?" As a literary scholar, he does set out to ask questions. For example, by taking up the conflict between "inherent" and "ascribed" meaning when interpreting a poem. Does the meaning of a poem lie in itself, or does the reader not carry his meaning into the poem? And: Couldn't the latter contain what can be formulated as a possible answer to the question about the meaning of life, namely that life is what we make of it? He will also find what he is looking for at Nietzsche and Hegelwhen he states: "Meaning is always a human achievement". This is where categories come into play that are relative as "happiness" or "well-being" - both in terms of individual wealth (in a double sense!) And individual and social possibilities.


One more answer: "The meaning of life is less a statement than a practice, not an esoteric truth, but a certain way of life". That brings us back to that Aristotle "agathon", the good in life that cannot be prescribed but has to be acquired, with that which enables people to ask about the meaning of life and to have the freedom to search for the meaning of life itself.

Review by
Dipl.-Päd. Dr. Jos Schnurer
Former lecturer at the University of Hildesheim
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Jos Schnurer. Review of 01/13/2009 to: Terry Eagleton: The meaning of life. Ullstein Verlag (Munich) 2008. ISBN 978-3-550-08720-2. In: socialnet reviews, ISSN 2190-9245, https://www.socialnet.de/rezensions/7111.php, date of access May 19, 2021.

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