The Meaning of Life

  • by Terry Eagleton
  • Narrated by Jay Snyder
  • 3 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The phrase "the meaning of life" for many seems a quaint notion, fit for satirical mauling by Monty Python or Douglas Adams. But in this spirited Very Short Introduction, famed critic Terry Eagleton takes a serious if often amusing look at the question and offers his own surprising answer. Eagleton first examines how centuries of thinkers and writers - from Marx and Schopenhauer to Shakespeare, Sartre, and Beckett - have responded to the ultimate question of meaning. He suggests, however, that it is only in modern times that the question has become problematic.But instead of tackling it head-on, many of us cope with the feelings of meaninglessness in our lives by filling them with everything from football to sex, Kabbala, Scientology, "New Age softheadedness" or fundamentalism. On the other hand, Eagleton notes, many educated people believe that life is an evolutionary accident that has no intrinsic meaning. If our lives have meaning, it is something with which we manage to invest them, not something with which they come ready made. Eagleton probes this view of meaning as a kind of private enterprise, and concludes that it fails to holds up. He argues instead that the meaning of life is not a solution to a problem, but a matter of living in a certain way. It is not metaphysical but ethical. It is not something separate from life, but what makes it worth living - that is, a certain quality, depth, abundance and intensity of life.Here then is a brilliant discussion of the problem of meaning by a leading thinker, who writes with a light and often irreverent touch, but with a very serious end in mind.

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Philosophizing beyond Nihilism or Fundamentalism

Eagleton’s exploration of the meaning of life takes the listener on a meandering and fascinating path through intellectual culture, focusing mostly on 20th-century philosophy. Like the best of Eagleton’s literary theory and criticism, this audiobook shifts between profound, thought-provoking claims and humorous phrasings and analogies that keeps things lively. Likewise, the themes of the discussion are familiar from other works of his: he banks many of his best shots off the backboard of postmodern thought, rejecting its relativistic pluralism and its privatization of values. He’s particularly interested in the role that language plays in meaning and the implications of the possibility that life is meaningless. Listeners with some background in modern thought, and an interest to learn more, will find this recording worthwhile. The reader is well matched to the material.
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- A. Yerkes "Expatriate American academic with high, middle, and low-brow taste."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-04-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios