Introducing Philosophy through Pop Culture: From Socrates to South Park, Hume to House

By William Irwin; David Kyle Johnson | Go to book overview

33
Selfish, Base Animals Crawling
Across the Earth
House and the Meaning of Life

Henry Jacoby


Summary

Do our lives have meaning? And, if so, does such meaning require a divine
plan or a relationship to such a plan? This chapter looks at these questions
and defends the Socratic tradition, fully articulated in Aristotle, that the
examined life, the life of reason, is the only meaningful one. Dr. Gregory House
in fact exemplifies such a life, despite his claims that we are merely “selfish,
base animals crawling across the earth” and that life is meaningless.

We are selfish, base animals crawling across the Earth. Because we got brains, we
try real hard, and we occasionally aspire to something that is less than pure evil
.

– “One Day, One Room”

So says Gregory House. It doesn’t sound like he thinks life has any meaning, does it? Yet our Dr. House is leading what Socrates called “the examined life,” and what Aristotle called “a life of reason,” and such a life is a meaningful one. But how can this be? Could someone like House, who apparently thinks that life has no meaning, lead a meaningful life? And does House actually believe that our lives are meaningless?


“If You Talk to God, You’re Religious;
If God Talks to You, You’re Psychotic”

Many people think that if there were no God, then life would have no meaning. So let’s start there. Let’s assume that our lives have meaning because we are fulfilling God’s plan. In this case, meaning is constituted by a certain relationship with a spiritual being. If God does not exist, then our lives are meaningless. Or even if God does exist, but we’re not related to Him in the right way, then again our lives are meaningless.

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