Synopsis Of The Meaning Of Life According To Different Philsophies


What is the meaning of life?
This is a question I have asked many people but where I seldom get satisfactory answers. Instead I have found insightful answers from various schools of philosophy. Here is a synopsis of what I’ve found:

  • Plato-attaining highest form of knowledge
  • Aristotle-pursuit of happiness, well-being, flourishing, and excellence
  • Cynicism-self-sufficient and mastering of one’s mental attitude; suffering is caused by false judgments dictated by society.
  • Cyrenaicism-hedonistic pleasure
  • Epicureanism-modest pleasure
  • Stoicism-reason; logic; natural law; free from anger, envy, and jealousy
  • Kantianism-do that which could be practiced universally
  • Utilitarianism-greatest happiness to the greatest amount of people
  • Marxism-to serve each other as equals
  • Nihilism-nothing
  • Existentialism-each person creates their own essence (meaning) of their life. Existence precedes essence. A man is defined insofar as he acts and that he is responsible for his actions. The world is absurd. You exist then you define yourself; not the other way around.
  • Absurdism-man desires order, meaning, and purpose to life, but the universe is meaningless. Three ways to resolve this dilemma: Suicide, Religion (philosophical suicide), or accept the absurd.
  • Secular Humanismthe question of meaning of life evaporates if one is fully engaged in life. The question then morphs into more specific worries such as “What delusions am I under?”, “What is blocking my ability to enjoy things?”
  • Naturalistic Pantheism (Spiritual Naturalism)to care for and look after  nature and the environment
  • Instinctivism-to reproduce
  • Theistic Religionto serve god; afterlife
  • Buddhism-end suffering by detachment of cravings and materialistic things;
  • Taoism-introspection; self-realization
  • Confucianism-reason, relationships, and minimization of negative energy