Meaningfulness and its links with experience, language and emotion
In this thesis I am concerned with the possibility of meaningfulness of life: I examine sceptical problems which threaten the possibility of meaningfulness and then outline the basis of an account of meaningfulness. In part I I look at sceptical problems concerning the relationship between experience and reality. I argue that global scepticism about the external world can be ruled out. I then offer an inclusivist account of reality according to which the relationship between experience and reality is taken to be a relationship of part to whole and a corresponding 'containment' account of objectivity, enabling a number of problems concerning objectivity to be resolved and scepticism about the objectivity of meaningfulness and value to be refuted. In part III introduce language into the picture, considering the relationship between language and experience and also that between language and reality. In particular I look at sceptical problems concerning the relationship between our conceptual world and reality. In part III I argue that there is a need for emotional experience as a basis for meaningfulness of life, that without some deep or emotional experiences, whether personal, religious, aesthetic, epiphanic, or just wonder at the nature of the world, someone's life will have no real grounding; whatever they do will be instrumental - there will be nothing done for its own sake. This leads into the discussion of sceptical problems about the reliability of the emotions and the subconscious. In part IV I deal with questions specific to meaningfulness including the idea of absurdity, the relationship between life's seeming meaningful and its being meaningful, and the links between meaningfulness and happiness, goodness, understanding, unity and destiny. I argue that the meaningfulness of life is an objective matter and that the possibility of living a meaningful life requires the possibility of there being a right way of life.