The Distinction of Morals: Experience, Sense, Meaning

  • October 4, 2012 · 7:00 PM
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Let's talk about three ideas that are similar but distinct: the experience of life, the sense of life, the meaning of life.

For each, what is it?

First, is the question valid? Second, if it is, in what sense is it valid and meaningful? Third, what criteria need be answered validly before any answer to the question can be deemed valid? Is there a definitive answer? Is the answer subjective, objective, or intersubjective?

For all three, what do they have in common? Is "life" trivially the commonality? Why or why not?

The bonus question to ask, if we finish early, is, why do these three ideas keep popping up perennially? This question reminds me of two movies: Xanadu (1980) and TLOTR: The Return of the King (2003). We'll talk more about the movies' relevance after the meeting.


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  • Tom O.

    I thought our discussion of the meaning of life was most uplifting. It built up logically from our understanding of what the experience of life entails and of what a sense of life really means. Huge thanks, everyone, for sharing your feelings and personal stories in your life. Your examples clarify and enlighten THE meaning of life and explain why so few people in history have understood it. It is no exaggeration to say that taking a breath of air can confer an exalted meaning to an examined life. The idea, once clearly understood, generated too many exciting topics for one meeting.

    Camilia, you rocked this evening! I appreciate your choice to spend your time at this time with us.

    October 5, 2012

  • Camilia S.


    October 5, 2012

  • Tom O.

    Here is a song that tantalizes

    See you at the meeting.

    October 4, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    "In the debate between religion and science... the terrible simplifiers on both sides tend to dominate the discourse. Today the contenders have become more aggressive than ever—and more simplistic. This is why William James can speak to us with a special relevance and cogency. And he does so not in an affable spirit of compromise or conciliation but as a hardheaded realist.... If he was so appreciative of the varieties of religious experiences, it is because he was so acutely aware of the varieties—and complexities, anomalies and difficulties—of life itself."

    October 1, 2012

  • Tom O.

    OMG, I just saw this movie during brunch ! I was too young watching its premiere to understand it. Now, it's howlingly funny at the piece . "Can we have your liver then?" "Oh, all right, you talked me into it." "And finally, Monsieur, a wafer-thin mint."

    Reflective theists and New-Age spiritualists both want "radical empiricism" in their lives. That's just one contradiction of our times.

    September 30, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Good related book review in the WSJ on the philosophy of William James:

    September 29, 2012

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