The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World
If consciousness is "the hard problem" in mind science -- explaining how the amazing private world of consciousness emerges from neuronal activity -- then "the really hard problem," writes Owen Flanagan in this provocative book, is explaining how meaning is possible in the material world. How can we make sense of the magic and mystery of life naturalistically, without an appeal to the supernatural? How do we say truthful and enchanting things about being human if we accept the fact that we are finite material beings living in a material world, or, in Flanagan's description, short-lived pieces of organized cells and tissue?
Flanagan's answer is both naturalistic and enchanting. We all wish to live in a meaningful way, to live a life that really matters, to flourish, to achieve eudaimonia -- to be a "happy spirit." Flanagan calls his "empirical-normative" inquiry into the nature, causes, and conditions of human flourishing eudaimonics. Eudaimonics, systematic philosophical investigation that is continuous with science, is the naturalist's response to those who say that science has robbed the world of the meaning that fantastical, wishful stories once provided.
Flanagan draws on philosophy, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and psychology, as well as on transformative mindfulness and self-cultivation practices that come from such nontheistic spiritual traditions as Buddhism, Confucianism, Aristotelianism, and Stoicism, in his quest. He gathers from these disciplines knowledge that will help us understand the nature, causes, and constituents of well-being and advance human flourishing. Eudaimonics can help us find out how to make a difference, how to contribute to the accumulation of good effects -- how to live a meaningful life.
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When I was a wee boy abounding with skeptical religious thoughts, I comforted
myself with the notion that God — if he existed — would not punish me for
seeking the truth. I no longer believe in God, at least not the kind of God that I was
Its receives epistemological expression in a form such as "insofar as there are
truths humans can know, they can only be known scientifically," or (relatedly but
not equivalently) "everything worth expressing can be expressed scientifically.
Jinpa (2003) quotes from Gendun Chopel's journal, written in the 1930s and the
1940s: "Even the Indian Brahmins who regard the literal truth of their scriptures
dearer even than their own life, were eventually compelled to accept modern ...
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - neurodrew - LibraryThing
An academic philosopher discusses finding meaning in a material world. The assumption at the beginning is that humans are a transient collection of neurochemicals, and that all consciousness is ... Read full review
Buddhism and Science
Normative Mind Science? Psychology Neuroscience and the Good
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