The phrase "the meaning of life" for many seems a quaint notion fit for satirical mauling by Monty Python or Douglas Adams. But in this spirited Very Short Introduction, famed critic Terry Eagleton takes a serious if often amusing look at the question and offers his own surprising answer.
Eagleton first examines how centuries of thinkers and writers--from Marx and Schopenhauer to Shakespeare, Sartre, and Beckett--have responded to the ultimate question of meaning. He suggests, however, that it is only in modern times that the question has become problematic. But instead of tackling it head-on, many of us cope with the feelings of meaninglessness in our lives by filling them with everything from football to sex, Kabbala, Scientology, "New Age softheadedness," or fundamentalism. On the other hand, Eagleton notes, many educated people believe that life is an evolutionary accident that has no intrinsic meaning. If our lives have meaning, it is something with which we manage to invest them, not something with which they come ready made. Eagleton probes this view of meaning as a kind of private enterprise, and concludes that it fails to holds up. He argues instead that the meaning of life is not a solution to a problem, but a matter of living in a certain way. It is not metaphysical but ethical. It is not something separate from life, but what makes it worth living--that is, a certain quality, depth, abundance and intensity of life.
Here then is a brilliant discussion of the problem of meaning by a leading thinker, who writes with a light and often irreverent touch, but with a very serious end in mind.
`Review from previous edition The book's a little gem.'
Suzanne Harrington, Irish Examiner (Cork)
`Light hearted but never flippant.'
`Wonders never cease. This is popular philosophy by an amateur in the best sense of the word, a man who clearly loves the stuff and writes plain English...[Eagleton] makes his case well and with a light touch.'
The Guardian (Review)
`It is a stimulating and often entertaining, if at times rather breathless, Cook's tour around the chief monuments of western philosophy and literature...The Meaning of Life is unusual and refreshing.'
John Gray, The Independent
`[Eagleton] makes his case well and with a light touch... I stand convinced.'
Simon Jenkins, Guardian Book of the Week
`A lively starting point for late-night debate.'
John Cornwell, Sunday Times
`Warm intellectual pleasure...meticulous treatment of the subject...It looks like Eagleton got it right.'
Mario Pisani, The Financial Times
`The name Terry Eagleton...assures us of stimulation, style, sparkling, sometimes acerbic, wit, and wide-ranging erudition. In other words he is eminently readable...[a] commendably pocket-sized book.'
Gordon Parsons, Morning Star
`With sparkling effrontery, panache, and deft footwork, Eagleton moves from ironic flippancy and caustic demolition to resolute affirmation.'
1: Questions and Answers
2: The Problem of Meaning
3: The Eclipse of Meaning
4: Is Life What You Make It?
Series: Very Short Introductions
Tertiary; University or College
Number Of Pages: 128
Published: 24th April 2008
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 17.15 x 10.8
Weight (kg): 0.1