From the beginning of the year we have seen an endless debate about how the human min, with its concepts and judgments, "fits together" with the seemingly meaningless world of material, physical things in which we find ourselves. There are three key movements in this debate:
-PLATO thought that real things were reflections of "Ideal Forms" from a Higher World of pure, eternal ideas;
-ARISTOTLE thought there was no Higher World, but that real things contained their own inner purpose (telos)
-Most importantly, ST. THOMAS AQUINAS unified these two views with the Christian religion, providing a long-lasting (and still popular) explanation of the world: the things around us are products of God's Mind (like Plato's Ideal Forms), each "designed" with their own specific built-in "law" or purpose (like Aristotle's telos).
The centuries between Aquinas and the death of Nietzsche (1900) saw the collapse of uncomplicated faith in religion, thanks to the scientific revolution, the discovery of evolution, and the rise of technological nihilism. It seemed that humans, with our minds and their search for meaning, were left stranded in a world without any purpose or significance beyond the random movements of matter. The five 20th century philosophies we looked at each tried to address this problem. Which do you think provided us with the best means for finding new meaning in life (or helping us cope with the lack of meaning)? Defend your answer with an example from your own life, a world event, and/or a fictional character's experience.
-Existentialism: All meaning is invented by the human subject ("Existence precedes Essence")
-Pragmatism: All "truth" is a temporary interpretation of a changing reality which is good as long as it "works"
-Psychoanalysis: The nonsensical drives of the unconscious are more basic than the rationalizations of the mind.
-Marxism: Meaning is found through analysis of the "objective" structures of society (dialectical class conflict)
-Analytic Philosophy: "Meaning" is just the product of a logical structure of language and social interaction