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April 22 2024 09:11 EDT

Lithograph of Charles Frohman's play. Library of Congress POS-TH-1898.P57, no. 1

Proroso (adapted)



since 01.01.06

Philosophy of Life

Abstract: Four philosophies of life are surveyed: Socrates, Bertrand Russell, Leo Tolstoy, and Albert Camus.

One important question for many persons is the determination of a meaning for their lives.

We examine six different, but in some ways complementary, deeply considered views on the question of the meaning of a person's life.

These philosophies of life, to a large extent, overlap issues in philosophical ethics, especially that of seeking a good life.

E-text Readings:

The readings are the following edited versions in these textbooks:

Reading for Philosophical Inquiry Textbook HTML version

Reading for Philosophical Inquiry Textbook PDF version.

Chapter access in the HTML Textbook is as follows:

Article Format PDF stand-alone articles:

Online Notes in this Section:

The Trial and Death of Socrates: Self-knowledge is necessary for a good life. If virtue is identified with knowledge, then virtue can be taught.

Russell on the Value of Philosophy: The philosophical mind has an awareness that goes beyond the daily round to an understanding of life and the world.

Tolstoy on Irrational Knowledge: To life humanly us to have faith which provides meaning and possibility to life.

Camus on the Meaning of Life: The nobility of revolting against the meaningless of life is achieved by imposing a meaning on what we do

James on What Makes a Life Significant: The exercise of active will with moral courage in the service of our highest aspirations gives life significance. (Under construction)

Ortega's View of Man as Project: An authentic life is where a person historically constructs his mission in life. (Under construction)

Further Reading:
  • Meaning of Life. A survey of scientific, philosophical, theological, and spiritual explanations of what is significant in life from the Wikipedia.
  • Classic Texts in Ethics Links to philosophical works in ethics from Lawrence M. Hinman at the University of San Diego. The collections of links include to works by Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, Marcul Aurelius, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Montaigne, Pascal, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Hume, Mill, Wollstonecraft, Kant and Nietzsche.
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“Surveying the vast landscape of life on our planet, the philosopher will not be content with the assumption (fitting as it is as a tool for the scientist) that this sustained and far-flung process, moving through aeons with circuitous consistency, always trying itself in subtler and bolder creations, should have been ‘blind’ in the sense that its dynamics consist in nothing but the mechanical permutation of indifferent elements, depositing its chance result along the way and with them accidentally giving rise to subjective phenomena that inexplicably adhere to them as a redundant byplay.” Hans Jonas, The Phenomenon of Life (New York: Harper & Row, 1966), 1.

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