Brian D. Earp: The Meaning of Life in the Context of a Shared Planet

*1O6A0376 (1)What is the meaning of life?

I don’t think life has any one meaning — nor do I think that the meanings of life are “out there” to be discovered, like a hitherto unknown galaxy, or some new species of beetle (let’s say). Instead, I think we create life’s meanings, each of us, by deciding on our values in the context of a shared planet (which means co-existence with other sentient beings, whose well-being is as important as our own).

My hunch is that our status as evolved primates places certain limits on the kinds of values (and social arrangements, and norms, and institutions) that are likeliest to be consistent with our flourishing as a species; but there’s room for variation, too. At the end of the day, I can get on board with anyone who sees meaning in trying to leave the world better than they found it — as judged against the range of plausible values that track our nature.


~Brian D. Earp is an interdisciplinary researcher with training in cognitive science, experimental psychology, philosophy, history and philosophy of science and medicine, and ethics.

Copyright © 2015 Excellence Reporter

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