The only complete Stoic works we have are by Seneca, Epictetus, and the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121–180), whose diary Meditations records his progress on self-transformation toward becoming a sage. A strong government system can steer humans to continue behaving in their selfish ways while the system as a whole benefits from their work. A Conversation with Kalki Koechlin – Actress, Writer, Producer & Activist. Jules has talked about philosophy on BBC 2’s Newsnight, the Culture Show, on BBC Radio 3 and 4, RTE-1 and ABC Australia; and am a BBC New Generation Thinker. You’ve got to practice your principles daily so that they become ingrained into what they call your automatic, self-talk and actions. We are recognised for our exclusive one to one interviews with the individuals who have shaped our world, are shaping our future, and impact every aspect of our lives. Anything else is meaningless. But within the internal view of meaning, we can argue that meaning is best found in activities that benefit others, the community, or the Earth as a whole. There is no list of virtues because we all know what they are. The Philosophy of Finding Meaning in Life Key Studies on Religious/Spiritual Engagement & Meaning Annotated Bibliography – Spiritual Engagement Mindfulness and Positive Thinking The Philosophy and Science of Mindfulness These examples are from corpora and from sources on the web. Even if something exists, nothing can be known about it. Appeared around 4th Century BC Everyone has their own philosophy of life; every institution has a philosophy. philosophy definition: 1. the use of reason in understanding such things as the nature of the real world and existence…. Or maybe life as in all events that happen in the universe? I suppose I’m more like a Platonist or a mystic in the sense that I think we are part of something much bigger that we barely understand. The original meaning of the word philosophy comes from the Greek roots philo- meaning "love" and -sophos, or "wisdom." His book  William James on Habit, Will, Truth, and the Meaning of Life covers the subject. The meaning of life is then in protecting individual liberties against the political coercion that may or may not be justified. The absurdist French philosopher Albert Camus (1913-1960) proposed that people should embrace the absurdity of our existence and then proceed to wilfully live their lives. The American philosopher and psychologist  William James (1842-1910), one of pragmatism’s main figures argued that truth could be made but not sought. In his book Apology, Plato quotes his teacher Socrates (c. 470 – 399 BC) saying that “the unexamined life is not worth living”. "You can't make someone Else's choices. * I don't see any WhatsApp status, because I'm not interested in Is life worth living? Hedonism offers us a life based on seeking pleasure and avoiding suffering. Quotes tagged as "life-philosophy" Showing 1-30 of 3,625 “Be the reason someone smiles. There is hardly a main source of the Pragmatism doctrine, but William James is one of its most prolific authors. Philosophy in Life Philosophy have always been part of human development and improvement in most many aspects like in moral, ethics, business and others. The meaning of life, is there is one, is also pre-determined, and we cannot do anything to understand it. To be able to judge of others by what is nigh in ourselves – this may be called the art of virtue. Hellenistic philosopher Zeno of Citium (c. 334 – 264 BC) founded the Stoic school of philosophy in Athens about 300 BC. It has to be a kind of, daily practice. Only through wisdom can one be free to act justly. [Jules Evans] I’m from a tradition called virtue ethics in philosophy, which is this idea that philosophy can help people flourish, and that in some sense, the aim of human life is flourishing. So, focusing on what’s in your control and accepting for the time being what’s beyond your control is a really useful therapeutic idea. Plato’s most influential work is The Republic published around 375 BC. There is no central authority on Cynicism or any official doctrine. Ancient philosophy almost hasn’t been bettered as a kind of therapeutic toolbox in 2400 years, and have a certain aesthetic to them which makes you feel part of a long tradition, not just some therapy invented 10 years ago. Thus, the question of the meaning of life assumes that we understand the meaning of the words “meaning” and “life”. This went on for eternity. For example, it is a virtue to have friends. Appeared in 1785 United Kingdom. Signup to my newsletter. I have only met the man once, but I doubt that is true. William Joske was the chair in Philosophy from 1969 to 1993 at the University of Tasmania. Robert Nozick, “Philosophy and the Meaning of Life,” in The Meaning of Life, ed. Vikas S. Shah MBE is an award winning entrepreneur, strategist and educator who has built businesses in diverse sectors around the world for almost 20 years. I went to interview the people who invented CBT, two psychologists called Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck, and found that their inspiration for this therapy, which now helps millions of people, was Ancient Greek philosophy, and particularly the ideas from Stoic philosophy, Socrates, and the Epicureans. We get cocooned into this rumination, and I think there are two ways to get out. Appeared around 5th Century BC Daoism offers people a painless way of finding life’s meaning through Wu Wei (無爲) “action without intention” or “naturalness”. For the Greek philosopher Plato (c. 428 – c. 347 BC), the meaning of life is the pursuit of knowledge. People find a sense of meaning, a sense of connection to the universe, a sense of connection to something beyond death. The Ancient Greeks believed philosophy was a medicine for the soul. And part of that is destigmatising the ecstatic and the transcendent and recognising this is a fundamental human urge and not something backwards or regressive or shameful. Theism dates back to the dawn of humanity where it was practiced in its various forms depending on what a group of humans believed their god to be like. Our sense of time, and ability to communicate across it with language means that our perspective of existence is lacking in the immediacy of other species. Philosophy as defined from its Greek etymology is the love of wisdom and lot of civilization have its fair share of having its own principle as philosophy in life. John Cottingham. * I never put the key of my happiness in someone's pocket. Philosophy is embedded in everything. The  Dao De Jing (aka Tao Te Ching) by Chinese philosopher Lao Zi (lived c. 6th – 4th century BC) is the primary source on Daoism. In its earliest occurrences, in English original compositions as well as in English transl… To understand more about the role of philosophy in our lives, I spoke to Jules Evans Policy Director of the Centre for the History of Emotions at Queen Mary University of London. There have been moments in philosophy that placed a deal of emphasis on questions like this. We’re now in the era of mass Higher Education where close to 40% of the population goes to university. When you recognise that your emotions attach to your beliefs, your opinions and your interpretations, then you can start examining your beliefs and your interpretations using what is called in cognitive therapy the Socratic method. I’ve been looking at universities, and the idea of what a university is for which is actually not a question that is asked that often. Individual flourishing, flourishing societies and also flourishing nature. Circa the early 1600s The meaning of life isn’t impossible to define. The poem  On the Nature of Things (De rerum nature)  compiles the core arguments and theories of Epicureanism. What's the meaning of life? The Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BC) was a materialist ancient Greek philosopher who offered that the meaning of life was in achieving sustainable pleasure which leads to a state of tranquility and freedom from fear (ataraxia). It’s not just about helping you to be happy, but also this kind of slightly discomforting thing of reminding us of what we don’t know. With practice, your philosophy becomes automatic habit, it becomes ingrained. Elements of Quietism are found in both Eastern and Western philosophies with Daoism known for its reluctance to use language and Greek Pyrrhonism embracing non-verbal “suspension of judgment” (epoché). We all have philosophies which form the basis for our motivations and what we do with our days. For me as an individual, having messed myself up quite early in my life, philosophy definitely helped me get out of a hole. You shouldn't let someone else make yours." In our culture, particularly in the last 300-500 years in Western culture, people have become much, much more ambivalent (if not hostile) to ecstatic experiences. [Jules Evans] As humans, we often have experiences which- by their nature- put us into a state that is difficult to describe in words. Circa 5th Century BC Create an infographic like this on Adioma. Appeared in 1862 Instead, its role is in pointing out linguistic confusions in the questions presented to philosophers. Firstly, our emotions are connected to our beliefs and opinions. Hedonism is an ancient idea that was later formulated by the Greek philosopher Democritus (c. 460 – 370 B.C.). They are like goals that we strive to attain or principles that guide us through life. [Jules Evans] I first became interested in Ancient Greek philosophy in my 20s, at a time where I was receiving cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which helped me a lot when I had some emotional problems. It can cost people a huge amount of money, and yet there’s not always a clear understanding either in students’ minds or in the institutions’ minds of what they are actually trying to do here, what is the university for? Life Philosophy The meaning of life is to give life meaning Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. Theism is the proposition that God or a Supreme Being exists. Humans tend to want to feel certain, to know who we are and why we’re here. Appeared around 5th Century BC Eventually, children learn from observing others to reject solipsism. The meaning of our life, its purpose and justification, is to fulfill the expectations of God, and then to receive our final reward. Thanks to Igor Pikovets for reviewing the drafts, and to Mark Vital for collaborating on information design of the graphic. Thus, promoting and helping other humans is the meaning of life. A Conversation Rebecca Henderson – Professor, Author and Authority on Reimagining Capitalism, A Conversation With James Thornton, Founder of ClientEarth – One of the World’s Most Ambitious Environmental Organisations. Philosophy is an activity of thought, a type of thinking. Appeared around 4th Century BC Indeed, the whole idea strikes many of us as vaguely pompous, a little absurd. It’s a moment where you go beyond your ordinary sense of self and feel connected to something great and new; that could be god, it could be nature, it could be some kind of deeper state of mind, it could be other people. These thoughts have been existing in order to It’s useful to try and uncover what institutions were set-up to achieve philosophically to understand if they’re still doing what they were intended to. He has spoken at events including the Month of Philosophy in Amsterdam, the Hay-On-Wye festival, the Galway Arts Festival, the Faculty of Public Health, Latitude, the Sunday Assembly, the British Museum and the RSA. Ideologies and religions are often mistaken for philosophies and vice versa. The question is does our culture has enough outlets for healthy ecstasy? These theories are standardly divided on a metaphysical basis, i.e., in terms of which kinds of properties are held to constitute the meaning. And I think philosophy helps to keep us wondering and to remind us about what we don’t know. The meaning of life is then doing the thing that most contributes to the most human good over the longest course – that is bringing maximum value to humanity. People sometimes talk about these being religious experiences (which is how William James described them), but that’s not quite right because they don’t always happen within a religious context, and they don’t always involve encounters with Gods. One of its well-known representatives is the French philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes (1596-1650). Kantianism proposes that every human action should be judged according to a universal maxim, or principle. Dates back to prehistoric times We do not need to be taught that. Cicero said, ‘there’s a medical art for the soul, and its name is philosophy’. Circa the 1940s We use cookies on our website to give you the best possible experience. The 60s changed something in Western culture and there was a kind of explosion of ecstatic practices- things like psychedelics, rock and roll, Eastern practices. Both of them are important, and both of them are healing. Q:  What does it mean to have a good life? An abstration is something that neither exists in space nor time. Circa 6th Century BC Here we visualized the most prominent philosophies that tackled this question over the past 5000 years. It is a question that has intrigued the great philosophers--and has been hilariously lampooned by Monty Python. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. Within the context of Higher Education, people might think ‘that sounds very strange, a new wishy-washy idea’ but when you look back at the history of Higher Education, and the history of universities going all the way back 2400 years to Plato’s academy or the university of Nalanda, India, which was even earlier – it’s been an accepted that one of the roles of universities is to help people flourish, and to develop their character. But that Subjectivists reject that there may be objective values in life that one should achieve despite subjective goals. Ecstasy gives you that ability to break out when you’re stuck in a negative toxic mood. The defining work on absurdism is Albert Camus’s work The Myth of SisyphusÂ. Appeared around 4th Century BC Thought Economics also features world-class opinion editorials on the issues that matter. We, as humans, can get stuck in loops of self-rumination and negative thoughts about ourselves and about the world. We need a philosophy of life to be able to do this and should have the aim of minimising suffering and gaining fulfilment. Thanks to Daniel Action for validating the research for this article and proofreading the drafts. This was the period when humans changed from ‘we do this because this is the way it’s always been done, this is the way the gods told us to do things, this is the way your elders did it so therefore that’s just how it is and you’ll be punished by the gods if you don’t do it that way’, to an active, conscious rational way of thinking: ‘Why?’, ‘Why like this?’, ‘Is this definitely the best way?’ and that’s a radical moment in human history… Socrates didn’t last very long when he started doing this kind of questioning and was sentenced to death. In a progressively secular society, people may settle on the conclusion that life is meaningless. The question of the meaning of life is perhaps one that we would rather not ask, for fear of the answer or lack thereof. You might have noticed that this whole time, philosophers assumed we are talking about the meaning of human life. Determinism is the idea that all events happen as a result of previously existing causes. As an infographic designer (or visual writer) I’m on a quest to reduce wordy textual knowledge to its concise visual form. Philosophy as a named activity, is quite recent in human history- and is the attempt to examine these instinctive and automatic motivations and say, ‘is this definitely wise?’, ‘is this coherent?’. Appeared around 4th Century BC In the Danish Quality of Life Survey, we asked 10,000 people about their quality of life with the validated SEQOL questionnaire with more than 300 questions on their quality of life. Roughly, all philosophies follow this pattern: first, people appeal to God and supernatural forces, then they look for meaning within the community, later they look at the individual person, and finally, they look at humanity as a whole. John Cottingham. Just asking yourself questions, ‘why am I reacting so strongly to this?’, ‘what’s going on?’, ‘what’s the belief or opinion underlying this strong emotional reaction?’ and ‘is it definitely true?’ can change your beliefs or opinions or your attitude, and that will change your emotions. The idea of losing control is seen as dangerous and shameful and ignorant… the idea of connecting to some kind of spiritual dimension has become seen as ignorant and embarrassing. The meaning of life is then in the acquisition of skills that make a person’s work valuable to the state which in turn benefits society. [Jules Evans] Our ability to do philosophy is one of the things that distinguishes us from other animals- in some ways, it is that which makes us sapiens, ‘wise monkeys’. The more a person achieves their own goals that are set by themselves, the more meaningful their life is. Jules also helps to run the London Philosophy Club, which is the biggest philosophy club in the world, with 6,000 members. (Analects 6:30) How to find a useful life Nozick, “Philosophy It’s all about communication, understanding and service. Appeared in 1942 Epictetus said what causes men suffering is not events, but their opinion about events. They (in CBT) have loads of great techniques for turning your philosophy into automatic habit- like maxims for example, just repeating little, almost sound bites. To find meaning in life, a person has to decide on their own values and then take action to live according to them. There has been a shift in our culture to marginalise ecstatic experiences, turning them inti pathologies. The origin of Kantianism is German philosopher Emmanuel Kant’s(1724-1804) book  The Critique of Pure Reason. Philosophy can influence an individual by philosophy guidelines to what the individual might seek from life. A Conversation with Sir Ronald Cohen, Preeminent International Philanthropist, Venture Capitalist, Private Equity Investor, and Social Innovator. Daunting as it sounds, there is a shortcut of sorts. The most common definitions of meaning in life involve three components. He writes regularly about the politics and philosophy of wellbeing on his blog. Without them, life would be meaningless. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.” Such action leads to finding the Dao, which is “the way”. If God or a soul does not exist, o… Donald Trump has a philosophy, Walmart will have a philosophy, Playboy magazine will have a philosophy, your next-door neighbour will have a philosophy… but for most of us, those philosophies are unexamined and more or less automatic and instinctual. Appeared around 4th Century BC But the Cambridge Dictionary defines it as a religion. All belief systems that are definitely religions fall under “theism” in this infographic. For the Greek philosopher Plato (c. 428 – c. 347 BC), the meaning of life is the pursuit of knowledge.  In his book Apology, Plato quotes his teacher Socrates (c. 470 – 399 BC) saying that “the unexamined life is not worth living”. I hope the next version of this infographic will be made in collaboration with a philosophy expert. How content were they with their While his escape to the simple life might have been more of a vacation than anything else, it does show us that technology may not be the path to finding meaning. Learn more. A wise person becomes a sage through rational action that does not violate the laws of nature. Any attempt to pin down the meaning of either word reveals the meaninglessness of the question and thus the meaning of life cannot be understood by asking such a question. Absurdists ask, “Why would you even ask such a useless question?” The question destined to fail because of the conflict between the human mind that desperately seeks meaning and a world where everything falls short of having a finite, immutable meaning. Most of the ideas in contemporary cognitive therapy come directly from Ancient Greek philosophy and it gives us three simple ideas which I can describe to you. Subjectivism is attributed to Rene Descartes and his thought experiment “I think, therefore, I exist.”. Dates back to prehistoric times So that’s an empowering thing, to feel part of this long, great tradition of wisdom. According to twentieth century Freudian psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim, “our greatest need and most difficult achievement is to find meaning in our lives” (Bettelheim 1978: 3). What about animal life? It’s only really in the past few decades that that idea has rather declined, and been marginalised. Abraham Maslow called them peak experiences, that doesn’t quite work either because sometimes these experiences happen to people not when they’re totally sorted, but actually the opposite when they’re a real mess. Since nothing can be changed in a pre-determined world, a person cannot have free will. Thought Economics is a journal of intellectual capital, now read in over 120 countries. The meaning of life can then only be derived from one’s actual experience. Mental, not physical,  because mental pleasures exist in the past, the present, and the future, while physical pleasures are fleeting. Other animals definitely question why they do things a certain way, and try to find strategies that are more intelligent to meet goals (such as developing tools) and whilst you could say this is ‘philosophising,’ only humans seem to have developed this capacity for higher order questioning…. Circa the 1920s Nihilism, also called Pessimism, is the belief that nothing can make life meaningful. The Nihilists see something inherent about humans that prevents us from finding meaning in life. Q: What is the role of ancient philosophy in our well-being? The philosophic way of life, if there is one, is displayed in a life in which action is held to be best directed when philosophical reflection has provided that direction; e.g., SOCRATES the paradigm of a philosopher. Q:  What is the role of ecstatic and extreme experiences in our lives? The human desire for meaning finds vivid expression in the stories we tell, diaries we keep, and in our deepest hopes and fears. The Stoics (c. 334 – c. 262 BC) want you to be free from desire for pleasure or fear of pain.  Eschew emotion. 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