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Meaning of Life by John Cottingham Essay

Every person has wondered the meaning of life; It is an idea that may be traced through the history of mankind.

David Cottingham, creator of “The Meaning of Life” is merely one of the many who may have tried to explain and make simpler this challenging question. “The Meaning of Life” is a short although informative book that efforts to break down the meaning of life with as little faith based intervention as is possible, while at the same time, manage to “reveal just how [religion] attaches with principles and obligations that we most share, and also to find a way of accommodating it without the sacrifice of scientific or philosophical integrity. ” (ix). In “The Which means of Life” Cottingham offers insight on individualistic ethical ideals and alternatives to individualism, that may often be contrasted with the beliefs of Jean-Paul Sartre, who is among the best known philosophers of the twentieth century.

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Cottingham uses chapter one to believe individualistic ethical ideals happen to be “compartmentalized” and “self-defeating. ” He is convinced that having activities and achievements in ones life, like sports activities, are not enough to make ones life important. Humans happen to be complicated creatures that require a lot more than a handful of simple successes to be really content with life.

As Cottingham states, people have “biological imperatives (for food, warmth, refuge, procreation), sociable imperatives (the need to work, the drive to communicate), emotional imperatives (the need for such things as shared recognition and affection), not only that and just as importantly what might be called ‘rational imperatives’. ” (26) With out these kinds of four basics, humans simply cannot be content and live meaningful lives, though it may seem they do within the surface. One of these Cottingham uses to display this belief is definitely Gauguin the painter. Even though Gauguin was obviously a very successful painter, which some might argue was meaningful, his choices and actions are those of person who could be regarded as being living a meaningless lifestyle.

Yes, Gauguin was a successful painter, but he as well left his wife and children to pursue this “self indulgent” career. By simply pursuing the one thing that built Gauguin’s existence meaningful to him, he himself messed up any possibility he had by truly living a significant life. This is due to he had to sacrifice his biological, cultural, and mental imperatives if he left his family and friends.

Although philosophers firmly believe in individualism, Cottingham offers an alternative in his book. Theism is the opinion in some type of deity. Since Cottingham declares “A worthwhile life will be one that have got genuine value – benefit linked to our human nature plus the pursuit of what is objectively good to the its heyday of that characteristics. ” (32) Theists finally have something to work at throughout their lives. With no this metaphorical ‘light at the conclusion of the tunnel’ people could quickly drop the desire to live meaningful lives.

Those with no belief that there is a purpose humans came to are present can be haunted by the thought that ” if ‘space’ is the home we certainly have, then our voyage, a voyage out of nothing and towards absolutely nothing, risks showing futile, as void of value as the greatest void that spawned us and will ultimately swallow us up. ” (34) With nothing to work towards you can actually live a compartmentalized, closed, and self-centered life, abandoning the 4 imperatives stated previously and so living a life without having meaning. Because they are open and integrated, Theists can reveal their experiences on their mission towards living a meaningful life. One individual that would firmly disagree with Cottingham’s perception in theism is Jean-Paul Sartre.

1 major reason Sartre is indeed opposed to theism is because of his concept of independence. To Sartre, freedom is not possible each time a person contains a designed end or goal. People has to be able to determine their own purpose on this globe, and if they believe they were put here having a predetermined purpose by a “higher being” they are unable to determine what their particular purpose is definitely on their own.

When it comes to Gauguin, Sartre would argue with Cottingham in that he’d see nothing at all wrong with Gauguin going out of his family to pursue his artsy talents. If perhaps Gauguin had not left to do what this individual wished together with his life, Sartre would have asserted his belief of “bad faith” which usually occurs the moment any person denies their human freedom because they want to prevent the dread of realizing that their particular existence means nothing in the event that one will not create which means for themselves. Gauguin must leave his friends and family to discover the which means of his life in Sartre’s perspective, while Cottingham believes that by leaving his relatives he loses three of his imperatives and will be disappointed and live a meaningless life.

Whilst both Sartre and Cottingham make interesting and valid points about leading a meaningful existence, I agree with neither. Sartre would have encouraged Gauguin to leave his family and hunt for his own meaning, that i believe could have been incredibly selfish and would have cause a miserable, useless life full of guilt and loneliness. Whether or not Gauguin liked painting, spending a lifetime exclusively is unwanted for even the most introverted people.

Nevertheless I argue with Sartre’s reply, I actually also disagree with Cottingham’s belief that Gauguin should have stayed with his family in order to live a life with all the four essentials mentioned previously. If Gauguin stayed with his family and stopped painting, he would live a life packed with questions and regret that he didn’t take the possibility to pursue his dream if he had the chance. Rather than being forced to pick one or perhaps the other (family or art) I believe Gauguin could have experienced the best of both worlds.

He could have saved enough money to advance his friends and family to Tahiti with him, or could have looked for the beauty in his own home and family to inspire him. The meaning of life is a daunting idea that all people have questioned at some time in their lives. While Cottingham’s book is incredibly interesting, that is definitely not for everybody.

Cottingham will do a superb job in helping you to decide on their particular what a meaningful life is made from by offering multiple philosophies and beliefs in one short, easy to read book.

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