“What is the meaning of life?” is a nonsensical question because it combines two concepts into a construction that has no (semantic) meaning. It’s like asking, “What is the color of sight?” or “What is the size of space?”—a category error.
Meaning is what humans experience when they feel a sense of purpose and significance. But life itself does not experience and thus cannot have meaning. Rather, life is what makes experiences of meaning possible, similar to how sight makes experiences of color possible. Life has no meaning, but is a condition for the possibility of anything that can be deemed meaningful, just like space has no size, but is a condition for the possibility of things that have sizes.
So a better way to phrase the question would be, “What is meaningful about life?” But then the answer is trivial: Whatever you feel is meaningful about it! Because now we are in the realm of human emotion. The question is no longer a grand metaphysical inquiry into the nature of life. It has become a matter of psychology or, when looking at cultures and societies instead of individuals, a matter of anthropology.
- Do You Have Meaning in Life?
- Technical Vs. Sentimental Language
- When to Endure Meaninglessness
- Metaphysical Toughness: The Antidote to Bigotry