The article I decided to read and master for this week is written by Richard Taylor titled “The Meaning of Life” on pages 560-569. I think everybody at some point in life will ask the question, what the meaning of life is or what is my purpose. Taylor has a different approach to answering that question, he wants us to think about what a meaninglessness life looks like. Taylor’s central argument is the meaninglessness of life. Taylor gives three different examples in his article. The first one is the story of Sisyphus, who rolled a boulder up the hill, it would roll down and he would roll it back up. The next is the glowworm whose purpose is waiting to feed, to transform into winged adults only living a day or two. The third example is the cicada, they burrow into the darkness for 17 years to come up lay eggs and die. All three of these examples amounted to nothing more than endlessly repeating the same task over and over that never came to anything. According to Taylor, life has meaning solely since it has purpose, direction as well as results in anything that lasts. This is in consideration that the repetitive nature of life often shows how it lacks meaning. The main points that the author is arguing for includes meaningfulness and the meaninglessness of life-based on Sisyphus’s irrational misconceptions. According to Taylor, Sisyphus was fated for rolling a boulder up the hill once he got up the hill the boulder would roll back down the hill forcing him to repeat this over and over without any success thereby making all his efforts pointless. In this connection, the meaning of life is drawn from Sisyphus subjection to endless routine of similar habits or endless efforts which ultimately amounted to nothing. He equates this nothingness in life’s true meaning. Taylor is arguing by having us reflect upon our understanding of the meaninglessness of life. According to him, after making critical reflections on what life is not, is when an individual will realize the exact value and true meaning of life. Reflecting how life is meaningless is the basis of our understanding on the real meaning of life. Taylor believes that meaningless is equally endless, pointless and meaningfulness and so is the life itself.
The ethical theory from the beginning of the course that is most relevant to this article would be virtual ethics. Taylor uses virtual ethics to help us understand how one attains virtue mirrored by their character strength, feelings, creativity, and personality. We can tell that Taylor is basing his position on virtual ethics considering that virtual ethics focuses on moral characters or virtues rather than rules or duties. Also, virtual ethics is person based and not action based. This has been shown in the Sisyphus predicament while rolling up the boulder uphill over and over. With this regard, virtual ethics is not only concerned with the wrongness or rightness of a person’s actions but also serves to provide guidance on the sorts of behaviors and characteristics that a good person may seek to pursue or achieve.
The counterargument of Taylor theory is that it is missing some vital facts towards the meaning of life. All three examples Taylors gives in his article amounted to nothing more than endlessly repeating the same task over and over that never came to anything. This is a meaninglessness life, however, if Sisyphus desire in life was to roll stones, he has a feeling of fulfillment and meaning. Even though it may seem meaninglessness, to Sisyphus it was not. It is how you perceive life.
As Taylor reflects more on the sense of “life's meaning,” I don’t agree with him. I felt that Taylor was trying to give the same meaning to everyone’s life. Life does not have a universal truth or definition, I believe that it is up to the individual to work and find out the meaning of life for themselves. I believe that the meaning of life is to live a life full of purpose. This involves maximizing on the overall wellbeing of my existence while minimizing the overall ill-being of my existence. The way to maximize wellbeing and to minimize ill-being is to advance medicine, science, ethics, law, politics, and economics among others. Not everyone is going to have the same meaning of life because different people have different ways of coping with the world.