meaning of life
The question of the meaning of life includes, in a broader sense, the question of the purposeful ( teleological ) meaning of life in the universe itself. In the narrower sense, it asks about biological and socio-cultural evolution and especially the question of a possible meaning for Homo sapiens . In the narrowest sense, she researches the “interpretation of the relationship in which man stands to his world”.
It is closely related to the questions “Where do we come from? Where are we going? Why are we here on earth? ”And further:“ How should we live in order to fulfill our purpose of existence? ”Here it is discussed whether this is given by an external institution , for example a divine commandment, whether a certain behavior arises from nature , that z. B. humans follow the purpose of reproduction or species conservation, or whether they are required to lead a self-determined life autonomously and to choose a life path that they consider meaningful. A life appears meaningful when it corresponds to an ideal set of values .
Problem of the question
Most of the time, the question of the meaning of life is understood as asking about a specific purpose that life should serve, or about a specific goal that should be striven for. In the same way one can ask about the value , the benefit or the meaning of life. Much of the misunderstanding in attempts to determine such a purpose is due to the failure to clearly define meaning and life . In addition, one can doubt whether a reasonable answer is even possible. Günther Anders wrote: "Why do you actually assume that a life, besides being there, also has to have something or only could - that which you call meaning?"
Another author first distinguishes the world of terms:
“' Sense and purpose' is often used together. The goal is far, the purpose is near. Sense is deep, purpose is shallow. The goal is achievable, but not the point. Sex in old age is pointless, but not pointless. Meaning is a filling level in a vessel - a 'fulfilled life', they say. "
Understanding what is meant by the "meaning of life" first requires linguistic clarification and limitation. “Sense” is an ambiguous term; it can be understood either as a teleological sense or as a purely linguistic term (“sense” as the meaning of a statement). The term “life” must also be clarified, because it can mean “life” as a biological phenomenon - in particular of a collective of higher living beings (cf. anthropic principle ) - or the “life” of a single individual.
Reasons for the question of meaning
The question of the meaning of life is apparently only peculiar to humans. Even in ancient philosophy it was established that he is apparently the only known linguistically gifted reason and understanding being ( zoon logon echon ) that can demonstrate the prerequisites for a self-referential meaning reflection .
The human being as a social being is always in relation to other people through education, training, professional life etc. and is encouraged from an early age to be useful, to work , to meaningful action , to a meaningful life, often without this expressly as the meaning of his To get named life.
Many people usually do not ask themselves the question of the meaning of life in everyday life , as long as their own lifestyle does not become doubtful or questionable. Often there is an existential crisis of meaning when events can no longer be integrated into the existing concept of meaning. B. by disappointments , accidents or the demands of a new phase of life. The result is often the beginning or resumption of reflection on the meaning of life, which then also includes questions such as happiness or even the meaning of suffering . When a person copes with a critical event that has led to a loss of meaning, they often find meaning for it (see Finding Meaning ).
Many people who turn to psychotherapists see the loss of meaning as an illness and express the hope of being able to give their life a new meaning. The sensation of utter futility of one's own existence, along with a "feeling of numbness" and inner emptiness, can also be a symptom of depression .
A fundamental difficulty in dealing with questions about the meaning of life is the fundamental possibility of the human mind to question a point of view once it has been accepted or to potentially change the perspective of judgment at will (cf. relativism ). The search can therefore apparently be continued indefinitely (cf. infinite regress ), or the impression arises that the question cannot be answered - or cannot be answered definitively ( Thomas Nagel ). “The meaning of life is a meaningful word; but nothing meaningful can be said. ”Due to dogma or immunization strategies, some offers of meaning prove to be difficult or impossible to criticize within their own system with the help of rational arguments. Likewise, in some ideological teachings hardly any or no immanent theoretical loophole can be found. Such offers of meaning can be assessed using external standards.
A problem that can lead to an infinite recursion is the question why most people looking for meaning never ask about the meaning of the meaning of life question: Why do many people ask themselves the question about the meaning of their existence at all? Why are so many people so pressed to answer them? What actually is the gain or loss if it is answered or not answered? It could also be argued that it is pointless to spend so much time and work on solving this "riddle". On the other hand, the explanation for asking yourself this question seems to be obvious: If you ask about the meaning, then because it has been lost - without this “forlornness” ( inauthenticity according to Heidegger ) the question would not arise first set; it is the point of every question to find its answer.
Reactions to the question of meaning
Asking the question about the meaning of life does not necessarily have to result in a positive answer. Following various psychological approaches, many people choose the path of repression . You avoid dealing with the question of meaning and ultimately with yourself. In this way they continue to “function” inconspicuously in everyday life, but in the wording of existential philosophy they have a form of existence of inauthenticity ( Martin Heidegger ), i. H. chosen an inauthentic way of life .
Another reaction is cynicism . One speaks of this when people feel a great void of meaning in their life, but suppress the suffering from it. Your life will then only be driven by practical constraints and the instinct of self-preservation ( Peter Sloterdijk ).
If no meaning (anymore) can be found or seen in life, despair , according to Kierkegaard , is a possible reaction. In such a state life threatens to fail. Its manifestations can be depression and suicide , i. H. a chronic or acute inability to live, negation or refusal to live.
Furthermore, there is (especially in existentialism ) the view that life has no meaning in itself (which a priori can not be assessed as either good or bad). B. with Albert Camus , for whom life is fundamentally absurd . As Camus explains in The Myth of Sisyphus , this notion does not necessarily contradict the affirmation of life and the happiness of man, which can be found precisely in the never-ending efforts against an absurd world.
In his work Negative Dialektik, Theodor W. Adorno characterized the question of the meaning of life as one of the last in which the categories of metaphysics lived on in the world after the Holocaust . Their claim to objectivity , however, contradicts almost every answer that has to be created and affirmed subjectively . The question itself is a symptom of an objectively senseless world in which sense for the subjective - individual life is missing. “What would have a claim to the name meaning without shame is with the open, not closed in on itself; the thesis that life has none would be as foolish as positive as its opposite is false; that is true only as a blow to the affirming phrase. ”Human existence can be cured of its emptiness not through a change of heart towards fulfillment, but only through the objective abolition of the principle that creates the failure.
Dealing with your own purpose in life can also lead to positive answers:
According to Viktor Frankl , people can in principle gain or give meaning to their life in any situation as long as they are conscious . The former concentration camp prisoner drew different conclusions from the Holocaust than Adorno and paraphrased Nietzsche : “Whoever has a why to live can endure almost every how.” This is true even in extreme situations. "What is the human? He is the being that always decides what he is. He is the being who invented the gas chambers; but at the same time he is the being who went into the gas chambers, upright and a prayer on his lips. "
Viktor Frankl even saw a meaning in suffering and failure: “I increasingly see that life is so infinitely meaningful that there must still be meaning in suffering and even failure. And the only consolation that remains for me is that I can say with a clear conscience that I have realized the possibilities that were presented to me. ”One of Frankl's central statements on the question of meaning is:“ We are not allowed to go ask about the meaning of life - it is life that asks questions, directs questions to us - we are the respondents! "
“Making sense would amount to moralizing. And morality in the old sense will soon be played out. Sooner or later we will no longer moralize, but ontologize morality - good and bad will not be defined in the sense of something that we should or may not do, but what the fulfillment of what is assigned to a being will seem good to us and promotes the required sense, and we will regard as evil that which hinders such fulfillment of meaning. Meaning cannot be given, it has to be found. "
Similar to Frankl saw Karl Jaspers in the freedom and the sense of responsibility the decisive impulse, "the as everywhere in the activity of existence the borderline situations overcomes that creates positive awareness of the extreme situations of the experience of sense of grip, of necessity, who draws strength from it for concrete life actions, but can never express them bindingly and adequately in concrete form for others. “ Most can only make a really free decision if their basic needs are met ( Abraham Maslow ). Hunger , thirst , pain , fear , lack of freedom , etc. can therefore very quickly lead to a loss of perceived meaning in life. However, the satisfaction of human needs must not be confused with the establishment or finding of meaning which is fundamentally independent of them.
If the self is at the center of the search for the meaning of life, then wishes for the satisfaction of physical, material, social and spiritual needs can dominate. The sense can e.g. B. can be seen in the pursuit of power , property , prestige, as well as procreation , fulfilled partnership or self-realization . Another expression may lie in the search for knowledge or personal development .
A further orientation of the meaning of life arises through the giving of meaning with regard to other people up to humanity or the environment in general . Specifically, it can be about help in the broadest sense: the transfer of knowledge and skills , everyday humanity or social or political engagement. Often, actions are based on an ideal (e.g. love , harmony or justice ). Hermann Hesse put it: "Life only gets meaning through love: that means: the more we are able to love and give ourselves, the more meaningful our life becomes." Dag Hammarskjöld's formulation is similar : "Dare to say yes - and you experience meaning. Repeat the yes - and everything will make sense. If everything makes sense, how can you live other than a yes. "
If the answer to the question of the meaning of life is not sought in human matters, it can also be found in philosophical or spiritual matters. Questions about the meaning or origin of all being ( ontology ) often play a role here; the search for enlightenment or the striving for union with the absolute or with God may be the focus. For this purpose, for example, you could study philosophy , join a certain religious community, follow a special spiritual path or follow a spiritual model .
Answers of philosophy
The views on the meaning of life that have been set forth and established in the history of philosophy can be considered representative of the non-religious views. Some of the answers that have been given over time to the question about the meaning of life are presented below.
Ancient and Middle Ages
In ancient philosophy, the meaning of life consisted mainly in the attainment of happiness (eudaimonía) . This was generally seen as the highest, most desirable good. Differences in the schools of philosophy arose primarily from the definition of what was meant by happiness and the way in which it was believed that it could be achieved.
According to Plato ( Politeia ), the immortal human soul consists of three parts: reason , courage and drives . Only when these three parts of the soul are in balance and do not contradict each other can a person be happy. Then he attains righteousness as the highest of the cardinal virtues . The highest sense lies in the philosophical reflection : "A life without self-examination does not deserve to be lived."
His pupil Aristotle did not see bliss as a static state, but as a constant activity of the soul. A person can only be completely happy in the contemplative life (bios theoretikos) , i.e. H. in philosophizing or in scientific research .
The Stoa identified the achievement of virtue with bliss. Only the wise who live in harmony with the order of the cosmos, free from affects , desires and passions and indifferent to their own external fate , can reach the final state of apathy . This insensitivity to the vicissitudes of life, the stoic calm , means the only happiness.
For Epicurus, on the other hand, the meaning of life lay in the (primarily non-sensual) pleasure , which consists in the ideal of peace of mind ( ataraxia ). For him, the moderate satisfaction of basic needs formed the basis of the particularly desirable spiritual and spiritual inner joys . The prerequisites for happiness were overcoming fear and pain . His recommendation was a retreat from the public into a small circle of friends .
The Middle Ages was finally the time in which the European Christianity dominated that the at this time monopoly had the sense offers. The Church taught that only obeying the sacred commandments could give meaning to life. In the late Middle Ages , the focus shifted from the more collective to a more individual form of meaning in life, which was sought in the personal imitation of Christ and the mystical union with God during his lifetime. From the point of view of the Middle Ages, the meaning of life can be given in a much shortened form as eternal life , i.e. the eternal and maximally possible communion with God. "The Christian-Occidental metaphysics was one of the great housings in which people on earth received their place assignment and thus their integration into a larger context."
Even at the beginning of the modern age , most people still orientated themselves towards Christian teaching. It was not until the Enlightenment began to piety and traditions trusting, authority faithful to question mindset critical. Man should back his own mind operate ( sapere aude !) And the responsibility to take for his own life itself, rather than relying on secular or religious institutions.
Immanuel Kant criticized traditional notions of happiness because they meant that everyone was exposed to the unpredictable fluctuations in their own changing urges , needs , habits and preferences. Even freedom, immortality and God cannot be approached by means of reason. One could postulate it alone. Instead, Kant demanded that humans voluntarily submit to the laws of morality ( categorical imperative ). As a result, a self-determined ( autonomous ), reasonable life can be led in which satisfaction can at least be achieved. "For the sake of the meaningfulness of morality and for the sake of the meaningfulness of the world, we must postulate God and immortality: The ethical determination of man demands his continuation."
Even the determinism had an impact on the debate about the meaning of life. Determinists claim that one state of the world, together with the laws of nature, determines every further state of the world. Quite a few philosophers were and still are of the opinion that this makes free will impossible. If the course of the world was already established, one could no longer freely decide on an action. But with this, it was argued, the meaning of life threatened to become a farce. After all, you can no longer give yourself a meaning out of your own free choice and ensure that it is fulfilled.
In Arthur Schopenhauer's philosophical conception, life is shaped by the principle of will. This will is not an individual will, but a metaphysical basic principle that manifests itself in all known phenomena as the result of the unconscious and aimless urge of the will. For him, this is synonymous with suffering , since the will of man can never be permanently satisfied. Only the aesthetic enjoyment , immersion in art and music could the people in a state of pure intuition enable, where the suffering is canceled.
The question of meaning was strongly promoted by the criticism of religion that spread in the 19th century . Ludwig Feuerbach asked : “Doesn't life lose all meaning, all purpose through the afterlife in which it is first supposed to find meaning?” From the same perspective, Søren Kierkegaard problematized in Either - Or the meaning of life for the existence of People.
Friedrich Nietzsche took a completely different approach . According to his analysis, he lived in a time that he regarded as torn, marked by inner decline. God was no longer a model for man ( God is dead ). “Breaking the adoring heart when one is most firmly bound. The free spirit. Independence, time of the desert. Critique of everything that is honored. ”This attitude is nihilism , the time of absolute worthlessness and meaninglessness. “Let us think of this thought in its most terrible form: existence as it is, without meaning or goal, but inevitably recurring, without a finale into nothing : 'the eternal return'. That is the most extreme form of nihilism: nothing (the 'meaningless') forever! ”In order to escape from this, Nietzsche saw the task of man in producing a more highly developed type of man: the superman . This should be tough and without any pity towards yourself or others. His purpose in life is to shape a work of art out of his life and humanity . He demanded: "What you are there for, ask yourself: and if you cannot experience it, now set yourself goals, high and noble goals and go to the bottom of them". Like Max Stirner , he viewed egoism as a corrective on the ethicism of church and state, which locate the meaning of life in a higher order to which the individual has to submit.
In Wilhelm Dilthey's philosophy of life , who emphasized the historicity of man, the task of philosophy in particular is to reflect on the state of intellectual development and thus to give meaning to the thinking of the respective epoch. “Philosophy is the most comprehensive, the most all-round of those functions through which the human spirit becomes conscious of its purposes: the meaning of life and the universe. The ever lively connection between the human spirit and itself. The ultimate, the highest of human culture in general. " Lutz Geldsetzer comments on this:" This is how Dilthey implicitly sees philosophy in any case as the decisive power in history, through and through which the In culture, people gain clarity and account for themselves about their cognitive relationship to the world, their 'valuation of feeling' and the volitional actions in 'leading life and leading society'. "
The existentialism dealt intensively with the problem of meaning in life. The focus is on the knowledge that it is up to everyone to freely choose and decide what they want to do with their life. Jean-Paul Sartre put it: “To be free means to be condemned to be free.” Man has been “thrown into” the world and must now define himself. That means: Man is nothing other than what he makes himself. He constantly conceives new designs of himself, which he then (re) lives. This total freedom also means the burden of complete responsibility for oneself and one's actions, because one's own life can no longer be excused by any other, higher authority.
The modern analytical philosophy of language , as it can be related to Wittgenstein , seemed unclear what status statements about what one should or should not do can have. “The solution to the problem of life can be seen in the disappearance of this problem. (Isn't this the reason why people to whom the meaning of life became clear after long doubts, why they then cannot say what the meaning was?) ”(TLP 6.521) But he conceded that people are unified in religious belief Can find meaning: “To believe in a God means to see that the facts of the world are not yet over. To believe in God means to see that life has a meaning. ” Bertrand Russell in particular emphasized that one could not derive any meaning from the objective natural process. Thus the question of meaning got into a space of individual decision outside of a more strictly conceived philosophical project. From this perspective, it therefore separates the area of life from the areas in which philosophy, from its point of view, can give an answer.
The logotherapy of Viktor Frankl is to free a method of psychotherapy to people of pathogenic meaninglessness. Because when a person cannot bring his will to meaning into practice in life, oppressive feelings of meaninglessness and worthlessness arise.
The impending extinction of mankind by a global war, the possible end of progress , the increasingly visible destruction of the environment , the warning forecast of the end of growth and the loss of value systems (as in the Holocaust ) in the western hemisphere all have in the course of the second Half of the 20th century led to a social phenomenon that was often referred to as a general crisis of meaning . In their wake, skeptical positions also gained in importance. Emil Cioran , for example, represented an existential skepticism that assumes an “ existence without an end result”. The arguments of the doubt about any meaning of life always threaten to lead to complete despair .
Although the natural sciences - according to the positivistic understanding - do not deal with metaphysical questions of meaning, or even declare metaphysical questions of meaning to be meaningless, conclusions for answering eschatological questions are derived from their results . For example, Hoimar von Ditfurth sees the meaning of life inextricably linked with the meaning of cosmic evolution .
Modern hedonism , following the utilitarians and classic hedonists, emphasizes the experience and striving for sensual pleasure . The meaning of life lies in the satisfaction of needs . Intensive, delightful and pleasant sensations of pleasure are actively sought and, if possible, increased. The offsetting of pleasure and displeasure should have a positive overall result for the individual at every point in time.
Taking up Aristotle again, Martha Nussbaum puts the question of a good life at the center of her thinking. She warns of the fragility of the good life and, in collaboration with Amartya Sen, has designed a concept in which she specifically tries to determine which skills a person needs in order to be able to lead a good life. Alasdair McIntyre makes similar reference to the doctrine of virtue of Aristotle.
Based on Aristotle and even more on the philosopher Thomas Aquinas , representatives of Neuthomism or Neuscholasticism such as Henry Deku argue . Accordingly, the meaning of life consists in becoming happy through the knowledge of truth and the doing of good, and that ultimately for the glory of God.
Answers from the religions
The different religions give different answers to the question of the meaning of life, which - in order of distribution - will only be briefly outlined here. The sections each describe the perspective of the respective religion.
The Christianity is by the Apostles been established that in the following of Jesus of Nazareth , the gospel proclaimed. According to tradition, he was the son of the Virgin Mary , the wife of a Jewish craftsman named Joseph . As God's Son and Messiah , he proclaimed the coming kingdom of God and redeemed people from sin and death through his voluntary death on the cross and his resurrection . Through this vicarious sacrifice , people can obtain forgiveness for their sins, provided that they personally accept the communion with God established in this way in faith.
The meaning of life in Christianity is to cultivate this communion with God and with one another in life as in or after death . The prerequisite for this is a life of love , which presupposes internal and external conversion ( repentance ) and faith in redemption through Jesus Christ , as described in the Bible . With the rebirth or baptism begins life redeemed from sin and death, which continues in prayers , sacraments and good works.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer saw the meaning of life primarily in following Christ:
“We think that because this or that person lives, it also makes sense for us to live. In truth, however, it is like this: If the earth was honored to carry the person Jesus, if a person like Jesus lived, then and only then does it make sense for us humans to live [...] The unbiblical concept of meaning is yes just a translation of what the Bible calls ' promise '. "
The Islam was Mohammed founded, the son of a trader in today's Saudi Arabia was born. According to tradition, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to him and conveyed the verses of the Koran to him . Islam sees itself as the continuation and return of some of the original religions ( Judaism , Christianity ) in a correct and perfect form.
The purpose of life in Islam is to serve and please Allah. This is described in the Koran in sura 51 , verse 56 as follows: "And I created men and jinn just to serve me." a. the firm belief in God and his providence , overcoming bad qualities and wrong ideas, responsible action, standing up against injustice and doing good deeds.
The Hinduism consists of various ways without common founding figure or universal canonical Scriptures . The individual philosophical views have partly different concepts with regard to the doctrine of life, death and redemption. The concepts of the meaning of life are just as different . For many it means a life according to the traditional "four goals", namely Artha (prosperity), Kama (desire), Dharma (duty, morality) and finally, as the last goal, Moksha , salvation. For the followers of the monistic Advaita doctrine , Moksha means a merging into the "cosmic consciousness", into Brahman . For the followers of the Dvaita doctrine, the love of God ( Bhakti ) has a central value, for them salvation means eternal communion with God.
According to tradition, the founder of Buddhism , Siddhartha Gautama , lived as a rich prince's son about 2500 years ago, carefree and kept away from all inconveniences in a palace. He resisted this isolation. When he overcame it as a young adolescent and faced the reality of inevitable suffering (" dukkha ") and death , he realized the futility of his life so far. He decided to look for a way out of suffering and found his own way through meditation . In the struggle for salvation , he finally achieved the insight ( Bodhi "awakening") into the cause of suffering and its removal, which is often imprecisely referred to as "enlightenment" .
The meaning of life in ancient Buddhism is to escape the cycle of reincarnations in samsara by entering nirvana , into complete extinction - which logically includes the extinction of the question of meaning. In the teaching of the Buddhists, all life and action are exposed as ultimately leading to suffering. The greed for life, power and lust is recognized as the cause for this. Only the complete extinction of this greed can lead to overcoming suffering.
In the course of the long development of Buddhism, a large number of Buddhist schools and currents emerged, some of which use very different methods as ways of liberation from the cycle of suffering. The so-called “ Noble Eightfold Path ” is common to all Buddhist traditions .
In the later schools of Mahayana Buddhism, the main aim is not to redeem oneself by entering into nirvana, but rather the ideal existence of a bodhisattva , who first helps other living beings to save himself from the endless cycle and only then himself into nirvana to pass over.
The Jewish religion is based on the religious traditions of the Jewish people . In the history of Judaism , a number of fundamental beliefs emerged, which Jews are more or less expected to adhere to in order to be in harmony with the Jewish religious community and their beliefs.
The meaning of life in Judaism is to obey the divine laws ; H. in awe of God and his will. The rules and commandments of God ( " Mitzvah ") are included in the Tanakh collected in the Talmud and Midrash is discussed and designed.
The Bahaitum emphasizes the unity of humanity. For Baha'i the meaning of life is spiritual growth and service to humanity. Man is viewed as a spiritual being. According to the Baha'i teachings, human life in this material world offers expanded opportunities for growth to develop divine qualities and virtues, and the prophets were sent by God to promote this.
Theological and natural philosophical speculations
In Teilhard de Chardin's work on natural philosophy around 1930, life in the cosmos is a creative process in the direction of ever higher levels of organization brought about by God. The aim of this development is absolute love, which was anticipated in Jesus Christ . The “radial energy ” of evolution - and thus also humanity - finally flows into the “point omega”. The meaning of the life of each individual is accordingly the participation in the development of “absolute love”.
In 1994, cosmologist Frank J. Tipler published an Omega point theory based on a similar idea, according to which the meaning of life is to create the perfect deity in cosmic history. According to this thesis, God is both the goal and the origin of the evolution of the universe. In the Big Crunch , God from agape lets the universe and all beloved beings that have ever existed, now “cured”, virtually resurrect as a perfect simulation . Participation in the evolution of human culture in the universe is therefore the meaning of individual life.
View of the sociological systems theory
According to Niklas Luhmann's systems theory , a variant of the sociological systems theory of the German sociologist Niklas Luhmann , meaning is the universal medium for the formation of mental and social systems and thus a fundamental prerequisite for the continued existence of these systems .
Physical, social and psychological systems create forms. They need a medium to create shapes. Just as for physical systems the objects with which physics is concerned are a universal medium for the formation of forms, so sense is the universal medium with which social and psychological systems can form forms.
In the medium sense there are possible forms (which have not yet been updated) and updated (actually realized) forms. Social systems experience this difference and act by choosing (selecting) from possible forms and letting them become updated forms. The difference between possible and actualized forms is generally the reason for the experience and action of social systems. And sense as a medium for forms is the prerequisite for this, i.e. it enables the system in the first place to connect to itself and thus to continue (see connection (Luhmann) ).
Humorous and derisive answers
There are many other answers to the eternal fundamental question of human beings, including the following ones that should not be taken seriously:
- " 42 " is in the novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams the answer to the question "after life, the Universe and Everything". However, it is unknown what this question actually sounds like.
- "The meaning of life is to ponder the meaning of life" from the BC comic book by Johnny Hart
- In " The Meaning of Life " (The Meaning of Life) , a film of the British comedy troupe Monty Python , is a television announcer the meaning of life known: "Be kind to your neighbors, avoid eating fat, read a few good books , go for walks and try to live in peace and harmony with people of every faith and nation. "
- Jürgen August Alt : When meaning becomes scarce. About the successful life in a disenchanted world. Campus, Frankfurt am Main / Vienna 1997, ISBN 3-593-35684-8 . (Discussion of various historical and modern offerings of meaning)
- Johanna J. Danis : Meaning guidance. Lectures December 1997 - May 1999, Edition Psychosymbolik, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-925350-74-8 .
- Viktor Frankl : The human being faced with the question of meaning. A selection from the complete works. 17th edition. Piper, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-492-20289-6 ( Logotherapy is particularly concerned with the question of meaning).
- Terry Eagleton : The Purpose of Life. Ullstein, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-550-08720-2 .
- Christoph Fehige , Georg Meggle , Ulla Wessels (eds.): The meaning of life. 5th edition. dtv, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-423-30744-7 . (Excellent compilation of important source texts)
- Hartmut Gese : The question of the meaning of life. Job and the Consequences. In: Old Testament Studies. Mohr, Tübingen 1991, pp. 170-188, ISBN 3-16-145699-8 (Pp) / ISBN 3-16-145739-0 (Gb).
- Bernulf Kanitscheider : In search of meaning. Insel-Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main / Leipzig 1995, ISBN 3-458-33448-3 .
- Peter Lauster : The meaning of life. Econ, Düsseldorf, u. a. 1991, ISBN 3-430-15911-3 .
- Horst-Joachim Rahn : To the meaning of life. Windmühle, Hamburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-86451-005-2 .
- Hans Reiner : The meaning of our existence. Edited and edited by Norbert Huppertz . Pais, Oberried 2004, ISBN 978-3-931992-21-7 .
- Manfred Spitzer : On the meaning of life: paths instead of works. Schattauer, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-7945-2563-8 .
- Pirmin Stekeler-Weithofer : Sense (basic philosophy). de Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2011, ISBN 978-3-11-025415-0 .
- Paul Tiedemann : About the meaning of life. The perspective way of life. WBG, Darmstadt 1993, ISBN 3-534-12030-2 (systematisation of different types of meaning concepts).
- Reinhard Lauth : Der Sinn des Daseins , Jerrentrup, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-935990-02-2 (Facsimile of the habilitation thesis University of Munich , 381 pages).
- Tatjana Schnell: Psychology of the meaning of life . Springer 2016, ISBN 978-3-662-48921-5 .
- Thomas Kriza: The question of the meaning of life . The conflicting relationship between modern thinking and the conceptions of the past (= blue series ). Meiner, Hamburg 2018, ISBN 978-3-7873-3326-4 ( limited preview in Google book search).
- Thaddeus Metz: The Meaning of Life. In: Edward N. Zalta (Ed.): Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy .
- Results from empirical research on the question of meaning. University of Innsbruck
- Christian Thies : Because everyone is looking for an universe. About the meaning of life . Reclam, Leipzig 2003, ISBN 3-379-20048-4 .
- Herbert Frohnhofen : The Christian faith and the question of meaning. In: theologie-beitraege.de (PDF file; 124 kB)
- Klaus-Peter Pfeiffer: “The meaning of life”. Systematic considerations in the outcome of Robert Reininger , Diss. Bonn 2001
- Herbert Frohnhofen quotes P. Tiedemann, p. 2, thesis 7 ( PDF ).
- Volker Gerhardt : Keyword meaning of life . In: HWPh , Volume 9, 1995.
- Friedrich Schleiermacher : About the value of life. (1792/93, posthumously), G. Meckenstock (Ed.): Critical Complete Edition. Volume I / 1, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York, p. 391 ff .; William James : Is life worth living? In: The will to believe, and other essays in popular philosophy. Longmans, Green & Co., New York 1897.
- Günther Anders: The antiquity of man. Volume II, CH Beck, Munich 1980, ISBN 3-406-47645-7 , chapter The antiquity of sense, p. 369: About the destruction of life in the age of the third industrial revolution.
- Jürgen Beetz: A fantastic journey through science and philosophy: Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in conversation , Chapter 13: Discourse on the meaning of life. Alibri, Aschaffenburg 2012, p. 234.
- Christoph Fehige, Georg Meggle, Ulla Wessels: Vorab. In this. (Ed.): The meaning of life. 5th edition. Dtv, Munich 2002, p. 14.
- Fredrik Agell: The question of the meaning of life: About knowledge and art in Nietzsche's thinking. Wilhelm Fink, Munich 2006, p. 135.
- Harry Stroeken: Psychotherapy and the Meaning of Life. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1998, p. 30.
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- Martin Heidegger: Being and time . Sections 9 and 45.
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- Albert Camus: The absurd arises from this juxtaposition of the person who asks and the world that is irrationally silent. In: The Myth of Sisyphus. An attempt at the absurd. Rowohlt, Hamburg 1959, p. 56.
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- Viktor E. Frankl: The day will come when you will be free . Kösel-Verlag, Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-466-37138-9 , pp. 116 .
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- Karl Jaspers: Psychology of world views . Springer, Berlin 1919, pp. 272-273.
- Hermann Hesse in a letter of June 16, 1956 to Marianne Wedel, printed in: Hermann Hesse: Lieben, das ist Glück. Thoughts from his works and letters. Love, happiness, humor and music. Compiled by Volker Michels, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt 2008, p. 7.
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- Basically from his book “Inside views of a fellow species”: “The outcome of cosmic history alone will form its justification. Since this - conceived as an unrivaled gigantic idle - represents the least plausible assumption of all, it must be enough for people to know that their existence has meaning in the context of this whole. That is more than some dared hope. "
- Martha Nussbaum, Amartya Sen: The Quality of Life. Clarendon Press, Oxford 1993.
- Martha Nussbaum: The limits of justice. Disability, nationality and species affiliation. Suhrkamp, Berlin 2010.
- Alasdair McIntyre: The Loss of Virtue. On the moral crisis of the present. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main 1995.
- See Henry Deku: Truth and Untruth of Tradition , St. Ottilien 1986, page 255 f.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Resistance and surrender. Letters and notes from prison. Edited by Eberhard Bethge. Collected Works Vol. 8. Kaiser, Gütersloh 1998, p. 426.
- Gautama Buddha (narrated): Dígha Nikáya (DN 16), Maháparinibbána Sutta
- Gautama Buddha (narrated): Dígha Nikáya (DN 22), Mahásatipatthána Sutta
- "Bahaism." The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language . 4th edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007 ( reference.com ).
- Smith, P .: A Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith . Oneworld Publications, Oxford 1999, ISBN 978-1-85168-184-6 , pp. 325-328 .
- The Purpose of Life 'Bahá'í Topics An Information Resource of the Bahá'í International Community. Archived from the original on August 29, 2009 ; Retrieved September 13, 2009 .