Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Life, Actions, Proposition, Wellness, Fulfillment, Teenagers, Creativity, Humans

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2021/02/23

In response to Nagel, Westphal and Cherry critique Nagel's proposition which is based on an assumption of meaningless of life. In contrast to Nagel, Westphal and Cherry propose people appreciate plans and projects which are taken seriously in life and are "bound to commitment or "pretensions" about what is done in life" (Westphal and Cherry, 199). According to Westphal and Cherry, creative lives in arts and science represent most fulfilling examples of one's self. Put differently, a creative life led by an artist or a scientist is one which has an internal view of life as opposed to Nagel's external view of life in which larger schemes, according to Nagel, make life more meaningful.
A sense of a larger enterprise is, further, determined by how such an enterprise contributes to individual lives and not by how individual lives are devoted to serve some external, larger scheme of life, as Nagel proposes. Indeed, Nagel's external view of life's meaning gains momentum only when imagination / innovation / inspiration is, according to Westphal and Cherry, "at lowest ebb" (201). Too much metaphysics or extreme externalism, so to speak, could be avoided by simply being immersed in life's minor details "for the colorful rubbish it is" (203).
Thus, meaning in life – which is present and not lacking – is to be sought in how life is lived, i.e. quality of life, not in what is sought after in a broader, more distant scheme of life in an existence external to human's.
In Taylor's proposition, however, life is decidedly meaningless. In order to further to illustrate his proposition, Taylor employs Sisyphus myth in which Sisyphus is condemned to an endless endeavor of rolling a stone uphill endlessly as a punishment for betraying godly secrets to mortals. Indeed, according to Taylor, "His [Sisyphus's] repetitive toil is his life and reality, and it goes on forever, and it is without any meaning whatever" (Taylor, 135).
Taylor, however, pushes his argument even further. By assuming gods have implanted in Sisyphus a strange and irrational impulse which is to enjoy rolling stones, nothing is changed in Sisyphus's meaningless endeavors but "Sisyphus has been reconciled to [his meaningless endeavors]" (137). That is, in question now is not Sisyphus's specific meaningless endeavor but how he has come to enjoy his "meaningless" endeavor which he knows is, ultimately, meaningless. The whole point of man's endeavors is, according to Taylor, is to continue to perform exact similar actions over and again, recognizing meaningless in actions and, more broadly, in life in general. Using Taylor's words: "Men do achieve things – they scale their towers and raise their stones to their hilltops – but every such accomplishment fades, providing only an occasion for renewed labors of the same kind" (140).
Thus, gradually Taylor reaches a conclusion of a meaning in life performed internally, rather than externally – a creed by which humans continue to survive, not losing hope, and are determined to pursue what is known to be, ultimately, a meaningless endeavor. Accordingly, meaning, if any, is to be sought internally, not externally. To quote Taylor: "The meaning of life is from within us, it is not bestowed from without, and it far exceeds in both its beauty and permanence any heaven of which men have ever dreamed or yearned for" (142).
In balance, Westphal and Cherry compared to Taylor, both end up adopting a similar proposition of how-ness of life creates / denies meaning. That is, as far as meaning is sought in life content both propositions share common ground. However, both propositions diverge in what comes out of meaning-making. If, in one hand, Westphal and Cherry propose any meaning in life by experiencing whatever "rubbish" in it, Taylor, in another hand, denies any meaning in life and employs a powerful, mythical metaphor (of Sisyphus) to drive home how humans find fulfillment, not in meaning, but in continuing to perform actions which are seemingly incomplete over and again.
Both propositions diverge in another respect as well. If Westphal and Cherry emphasize concrete and solid examples in proposing a meaning in life – by citing examples of creative lives led by musicians, artists and scientists in which absorption in a work of art or science is inherently a self-fulfilling act – Taylor, in another hand, focuses more on abstractions and mythical representations – by citing Sisyphus's example who, by his very "meaningless," action, is a parallel to every man's daily pursuits to go up against uphill endeavors.
A further differentiation is noted in both propositions by means of inference. That is, if Westphal and Cherry set out from specific examples in musician's or scientist's work and ends up in a conclusion for a meaning in life as performed, Taylor sets out from a generalization about meaningless in life and ends up in a rather inconsistent conclusion. More specifically, if Westphal and Cherry debunk Nagel's proposition of life's meaningless and emphasizing meaning in life and proceed to conclusion in which meaning is created by how life is experienced, Taylor, meanwhile, sets out from a meaningless in life and proceeds to life being meaningless but is fulfilling to endeavoring humans. This is, indeed, a paradox. For by denying meaning in life at all, how could performing an endeavor over and again – promise-less, a fundamental motivation to humans – be fulfilling? This is a question which is not adequately answered in Taylor's proposition.
Another significant differentiation between both propositions is, of course, externality / internality of meaning. That is, in Westphal's and Cherry's proposition internality of life meaning is emphasized as fundamental source of meaning for humans as daily activities – creative or mundane – are performed. Meanwhile, in Taylor's proposition externality of action is emphasized which is manifest in Sisyphus's endless endeavor to push a stone uphill. Interestingly, as well, another feature of externality / internality is noted in both propositions. If Westphal and Cherry do not refer to any specific external force which might impact on an individual's actions as she performs her creative or mundane actions – but only referring indiscriminately to external forces or metaphysical existence which, according to Nagel, impacts on individual actions and renders smaller actions meaningless unless connected to some greater schema – Taylor specifies external gods as external forces which inflict eternal punishment and enjoyable pain on Sisyphus and which, above all else, appear to exercise an overwhelming will and power over Sisyphus who only has to act in response and enjoy – probably slavishly – his repeated endeavor.
Accordingly, based on above synthesis, in order for a young person who needs advice in adapting to life and in seeking meaning in life, she needs to perform a series of reviews – minor as well as major – for her life behaviors. By "minor reviews" is meant a reassessment of her, mainly, daily actions which introduce (or not) meaning into her present life as well as achieve a sense of fulfillment in performing such acts. By "major reviews" is meant a reassessment of her, mainly, longer-range actions which introduce (or not) meaning into her life as well as a sense of fulfillment in pursuing such long-range actions. Thus, in order for a younger person to better adapt to life in short, medium- and long-range, he needs to identify main focal point of meaning and fulfillment. By experiencing meaning, a young person seeking adaptation to life adopts Westphal's and Cherry's proposition of meaning-making in creative and mundane experiences. By achieving fulfillment, such a young person adopts Taylor's proposition in fulfilling inner satisfaction by performing (apparently) meaningless acts.
For longer-range actions, a young person should re-plan her personal as well as professional goals in light of her newly reimagined daily activities. This could be performed, practically, by first re-listing her older personal and professional goals. Next, she should sort out goals based on meaning-making and fulfillment criteria by including goals aims – at short-, medium, or long-range – to create meaning or achieve fulfillment and excludes ones which do not.
Indeed, above mentioned action plan should not be static but one subject to regular reviews. If anything, human experiences are nothing but dynamic processes which are subject to continuous change. As well, as individuals engage in different life experiences learning how to identify meaning and achieve fulfillment in different life phases remain artful endeavors which mainly creative individuals can re-invent over and again.

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WePapers. (2021, February, 23) Essay On The Meaning Of Life. Retrieved February 03, 2023, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/essay-on-the-meaning-of-life/
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Essay On The Meaning Of Life. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/essay-on-the-meaning-of-life/. Published Feb 23, 2021. Accessed February 03, 2023.

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