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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Philosophy

Postgraduate Course: Meaning and Fulfilment (PHIL11210)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines the related concepts of meaning in an individual life (what makes one life more meaningful than another), 'the' meaning of life (where this raises more 'cosmic' questions about the meaning of life in general, rather than of an individual life), and sceptical challenges to the very idea of meaning in (or of) life.
Course description The course will cover a range of topics in the philosophy of life's meaning, including the following:

- The idea of a 'crisis' of meaning and what this tells us about the meaning of life and why we value it - here the method may be via case studies, e.g. John Stuart Mill's breakdown, the exchange between Kant and Maria von Herbert and Tolstoy).
- Whether and in what ways death and our cosmic finitude poses a challenge to living a meaningful life.
- How the end of humanity as a species might rationally influence how one thinks about one's life.
- The scope of the meaning of life - whether nonhuman animals could have meaningful lives.
- The distinction between meaning in a life and the meaning of life.
- Theories of the meaning (semantic content) of 'meaning in a life' and 'the meaning of life.' These will include 'fitting attitude' analyses and interpretative analyses.
- Substantive theories of the meaning of life and meaning in a life, including theological / supernaturalist theories, narrative theories, and hybrid theories which blend subjective and objective elements (e.g. taking satisfaction in engaging with objectively valuable ends and projects).
- The phenomenology of meaning - what experiences go hand in hand with finding one's life meaningful - or, on the other hand, meaningless.
- The relationship between meaning in a life and achievement and goal-oriented activity (related: meaning in different stages of life and the idea of a 'mid-life crisis').
- Whether evil lives can be meaningful.
- Whether yearning for meaning in one's life can be pernicious and whether we might not be better off aiming for happiness and well-being and transcending our attempts to find meaning.

The organization of these topics may vary from year to year.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate a grasp of fundamental issues in the philosophy life┬┐s meaning
  2. critically analyse and engage with literature by key philosophers in this field
  3. present and evaluate arguments clearly and concisely both within a classroom context and in a written essay
  4. demonstrate transferrable skills in research, analysis and argumentation
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Keywordsmeaning,fulfilment,philosophy of life
Course organiserProf Michael Ridge
Tel: (0131 6)50 3657
Course secretaryMs Becky Verdon
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