Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Ratio Vol. 18, No. 2, June 2005

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Ratio Vol. 18, No. 2, June 2005

Article excerpt

Life and Meaning, DAVID E. COOPER

This paper addresses an apparent tension between a familiar claim about meaning in general, to the effect that the meaning of anything owes to its place, ultimately, within a "form of life," and a claim, also familiar, about the meaning of human life itself, to the effect that this must be something "beyond the human." How can life itself be meaningful if meaning is a matter of a relationship to life? After elaborating and briefly defending these two claims, two ways of amending and thereby reconciling them are considered and rejected. These ways involve either spiriting away the issue of life's meaning or encouraging unwelcome metaphysical views. The author then argues that, rather than removing the tension between the two claims, one should view each as expressing an aspect of a delicate metaphysical position. This position is distinguished from ones like transcendental idealism and constructivism with which it might be confused and is then related to Daoist and Zen thought and to the later philosophy of Heidegger. Crucial to the position is the proposal that the "beyond the human" which enables life to be meaningful is both ineffable and "intimate" with life itself.


This paper argues that Divine Command Theory is inconsistent with the view, held by many theists, that we have a moral obligation to worship God.

Systems of Measurment, STEPHEN LAW

Wittgenstein and Kripke disagree about the status of the proposition: the Standard Meter is one meter long. Wittgenstein believes it is necessary. Kripke argues that it is contingent. Kripke's argument depends crucially on a certain sort of thought-experiment with which we are invited to test our intuitions about what is and isn't necessary. In this paper it is argued that, while Kripke's conclusion is strictly correct, nevertheless similar Kripke-style thought-experiments indicate that the metric system of measurement is after all relative in something like the way Wittgenstein seems to think. Central to this paper is a thought-experiment the author calls the Smedlium Case.

On Williamson's Arguments that Knowledge is a Mental State, ADAM LEITE

In Knowledge and Its Limits, Timothy Williamson argues that knowledge is a purely mental state, that is, that it is never a complex state or condition comprising mental factors and nonmental, environmental factors. Three of his arguments are evaluated: arguments from (1) the nonanalyzability of the concept of knowledge, (2) the "primeness" of knowledge, and (3) the (alleged) inability to satisfactorily specify the "internal" element involved in knowledge. None of these arguments succeeds. Moreover, consideration of the third argument points the way to a cogent argument that knowledge is not a purely mental state.

Downshifting and Meaning in Life, NEIL LEVY

So-called downshifters seek more meaningful lives by decreasing the amount of time they devote to work, leaving more time for the valuable goods of friendship, family, and personal development. But though these are indeed meaning-conferring activities, they do not have the right structure to count as superlatively meaningful. Only in work--of a certain kind--can superlative meaning be found. It is by active engagements in projects, which are activities of the right structure, dedicated to the achievement of goods beyond ourselves, that we make our lives superlatively meaningful. …

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