Kathleen Dean Moore: Loving Life Before Loving Its Meaning

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAExcellence Reporter: Prof. Moore, what is the meaning of life?

Kathleen Dean Moore: My thoughts about the meaning of life came to me as I sat in a canoe, listening to the music of a marsh at nightfall. I expressed those views in an essay, “The Testimony of the Marsh,” published in my book Holdfast:

“Dostoyevsky told us that ‘we must love life before loving its meaning.’ We must love life, and some meaning may grow from that love. But ‘if love of life disappears, no meaning can console us.’ What is it all for, this magnifying-glass-in-the-sun focus on being, this marshland, this great splashing and thrusting, this determination among the willows, the flare-up, the colors, the plumage, the effort?  Nothing, I think, except to continue. This is the testimony of the marsh: Life directs all its power to one end, and that is to continue to be.  A marsh at nightfall is life loving itself. Nothing more. But nothing less, either, and we should not be fooled into thinking this is a small thing.”


~Kathleen Dean Moore is a philosopher, environmental advocate, and writer. As Distinguished Professor at Oregon State University, she lectured in philosophy of law and environmental ethics. But her growing alarm at the devastation of the planet led her to leave the university to speak out in defense of the lovely, reeling world. Her most recent book, Great Tide Rising: Toward Clarity and Moral Courage in a Time of Planetary Change follows Moral Ground, testimony from the world’s moral leaders about our obligation to the future. Other books celebrate and explore the meaning of the wet, wild world of rivers, islands, and tidal shores – Riverwalking, Holdfast, Pine Island ParadoxWild Comfort, and the forthcoming novel, Piano Tide. She writes from Corvallis, Oregon and tidewater Alaska.

Copyright © 2016 Excellence Reporter

Categories: Philosophy

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