Futility and the Meaning of Life Debate
Trisel (Brooke Alan)
Source: Sorites 14, October 2002: 70-84
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

    Are all human endeavors futile, as futilitarians contend? What does it mean when someone claims that «life is futile»? Although meaninglessness has been explored in great detail, the concept of futility, as used in the context of the debate about whether there is a «meaning of life,» has remained largely unexplored. Futility is a combination of the concepts of ordinary causation1, failure, and repetition and is the opposite of effectiveness. Just as it would not make sense to claim that «life is effective,» it does not make sense when someone claims that «life is futile.» Life could be objectively futile only if there was an objective purpose of life, which there is no evidence thereof, and we were somehow failing to achieve this purpose. Striving to achieve a particular goal can be subjectively futile for an individual, but whether or not it is futile largely depends on how high an individual has set his or her expectations.


Filed electronically with the full edition of Sorites 14

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