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The Meaning of Life? – no worries!

2 April, 2007

‘Meaningfulness’ is about searching for meaning in reality as we experience it: about having a sense of relevance; it implies a feeling of engagement or involvement with living and an awareness of having a value orientation (i.e. feeling that certain things matter).

There may be sociobiological predispositions to find certain behaviours meaningful.

In traditional societies, cultural values and conventions retain their potency as a source of meaningfulness.

But the advent of more complex forms of social organisation undermines the sense of meaning and direction provided by biological and cultural sources.

Cottrell in 1979 undertook an intensive interview study of middle-class people in the UK. She seemed to find little concern with overarching values and ways of making sense of reality, of the kind offered by religion. Nor was there much evidence of anguish over this. Most of her non-religious respondents seemed quite content to get on with whatever immediate projects they were engaged in without worrying too much about the need to make sense of it all. No new religions were being born, nor were they felt to be necessary.

 (abridged from Richard Stevens, Ed., ‘Understanding the Self’, Sage, London, 1996)

One Comment leave one →
  1. 3 April, 2007 12:34 pm

    I am trying hard not to become comfortably numb. You might have given up too easily on the Buddha’s spoon debate, the post was very good. The spoon has obvious meaning in a human context, but the Buddha was explaining that the context itself is limiting. I have seen the idea of innate predisposition towards religion mentioned a few times recently. No problems with that, life would be very poor without spirituality, and there is more to learn than I will fit in one lifetime. Have a good Easter.

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