Meaning of Life

By lmuhlig
  • 347

    Plato's Theory of Forms

    Plato's Theory of Forms
    Plato, student of Socrates, created the concept of perfect forms, which states that the world as it appears to us is not the real world, but only an image of the real world. The real world is perfect, while the one we are living in is flawed. The goal is to be able to perceive the "perfect" real world. Plato: 429–347 B.C.E.
  • 400

    Laozi and Taoism

    Laozi and Taoism
    Laozi is often credited as the creator of the Taoist movement in Eastern religion. Taoism states that the meaning of life is found through the Three Treasures: compassion, moderation, and humility. Embracing "this life" as opposed to others (the afterlife, reincarnation, etc.) is seen as extremely important. Laozi: 4th century BCE
  • 450

    Siddhartha Gautama: the Buddha

    The creator of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, is usually referred to simply as the Buddha. The Buddha's teachings are aimed at achieving happiness and being liberated from suffering. The goal is to lead a wholesome life and as such, be rewarded with Nirvana, or a release from earthly suffering. The Buddha: 450 BCE
  • Thomas Hobbes

    Thomas Hobbes
    Thomas Hobbes, author of Leviathan, is most often quoted as stating that, "the life of man is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." His view was that humans are predisposed to fighting and violence, and that coming out on top was all that mattered. Thomas Hobbes: 1588–1679
  • John Locke

    Usually held up as the antithesis of/to Thomas Hobbes, Locke wrote of the innate goodness of humanity, and that education is very important in molding personality. He believed that men should live free lives. John Locke: 1632 - 1704
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau

    Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    Rousseau is most known for his pronunciation that "man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains." Rousseau was a champion of positive self-love, but never pride. He believed that one should love oneself, but never be prideful. Jean-Jacques Rousseau: 1712-1778
  • Immanuel Kant

    Kant believed that one must think autonomously, and his work was a combination of rationalism and empiricism. For instance, there are some things we can understand by studying, but there are other things we must understand on an innate level; finding the balance of these is the human goal. Immanuel Kant: 1724–1804
  • Soren Kierkegaard

    Kierkegaard is interested in 'how' one exists. His concept of levelling states that the further one becomes removed from their individuality, the less meaning their life has. For one's life to mean anything at all, you must retain your individuality. Soren Kierkegaard: 1813 - 1855
  • Friedrich Nietzsche

    Nietzsche is an existential nihilist ("God is dead"). Existential nihilism is the declaration that life is inherently devoid of all meaning and can be interpreted to mean that any knowledge is impossible to attain, and that reality may not even exist. His idea of an ubermensch is the idea that some people are so superior to the masses they can create a new moral code, and live outside the constraints of normal society. Friedrich Nietzsche: 1844 – 1900
  • Jean-Paul Sartre

    Commonly considered to be the father of existentialism, Sartre believed that humans are "condemned to be free." Life must be assigned meaning, and every person must take responsibility for their own actions. Jean-Paul Sartre: 1905 – 1980
  • Simone Weil

    Simone Weil
    Weil was both politically and religiously minded, and delved into both philosophy and mysticism. She discusses the experience of truth, which is not necessarily truth, and she also discusses what it takes to be truly "real." Her personal philosophy centered around spirituality and a social philosophy empahsizing relationships between individuals and groups. Simone Weil: 1909-1943
  • Albert Camus

    Albert Camus
    Camus believes that happiness is fleeting and that mortality is imminent, and therefore believes that one must develop a greater appreciation for both life and happiness. He also dabbled in absurdism, with the Myth of Sisyphus. Camus dealt with many paradoxes, and struggled with his original existentialist roots, and later, with his friendship with Jean-Paul Sartre, as he believed that life DID have a purpose. He sees only two options: the creation of purpose or suicide. Albert Camus: 1913–1960
  • John Rawls and the Theory of Justice

    John Rawls and the Theory of Justice
    Rawls is most well known for his comprehensive theory of justice. His belief was that humans are meant to lead a just and fair life, and should strive for justice wherever possible. John Rawls: 1921 - 2002
  • Ayn Rand

    Rand believed in the attainment of personal happiness and the "concept of man as a heroic being." She believed that the moral purpose of life was to achieve one's own happiness, and that productivity was the noblest of all the virtues. Ayn Rand: 1905–1982
  • Socrates

    Socrates is somewhat of an enigma, his teachings only passed on through the works of his student Plato. We know of his death by poison, after being sentenced for corrupting young Athenians. Socrates strongly believed that life should be governed by a moral and/or judicial code, and that one must follow the system they have lived their life by - which is partially why he did not escape prison while he could. Socrates: 469–399 B.C.E