Episode 18: Finding Meaning in Mystery
We continue with our discussion on the course “The Meaning of Life: Perspective’s from the World’s Great Intellectual Traditions” with Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics and the Biblical Book of Job.
Aristotle strikes us as very pragmatic, even a bit too “black and white” for our taste but his thoughts on relationships, particularly friendships based on common virtues as an essential part of our happiness and fulfillment, resonated with us.
The Book of Job was much more compelling to us. While the story of Job is generally thought to be about having faith in God, no matter how bad things get, Professor Garfield presents an alternative reading. He proposes that the message of Job is to find meaning in a world that doesn’t always make sense. Ultimately our relationship with the universe is one of mystery and coming to terms with that is where we will find meaning.
This conclusion is not an excuse to give up or behave poorly. We need to engage with the world, in spite of its faults and we may just have to live without ever knowing what the meaning of our lives is!
Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle
“In a study from UCLA, researchers discovered that our source of happiness influences our gene expression. If you live your life with purpose, you have lower inflammatory gene expression and stronger anti-viral expression than people we were happy from hedonic purposes. Both groups reported the same level of happiness.” – Dana James on Social Genomics.
Featured Image: A Table of Desserts, Jan Davidsz de Heem, 1640
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