Philosophia 49 (1):217-233 (2021)

Authors
Daniel Coren
McMaster University
Abstract
The universe is enormous, perhaps unimaginably so. In comparison, we are very small. Does this suggest that humanity has little if any cosmic significance? And if we don’t matter, should that matter to us? Blaise Pascal, Frank Ramsey, Bertrand Russell, Susan Wolf, Harry Frankfurt, Stephen Hawking, and others have offered insightful answers to those questions. For example, Pascal and Ramsey emphasize that whereas the stars cannot think, human beings can. Through an exploration of some features of awe and its positive effects on us, I offer a novel way of answering the second question: even if we don’t matter, we, unlike the stars, naturally benefit from observing our own smallness. I explore implications for accounts of the absurdity of human life. Life might be absurd. But I give reasons to think that life isn’t absurd in the ways some such as Nagel and Camus suggest. Finally, I connect non-symmetric awe with Buddhist insights to strengthen a recent and more positive account of how to find meaning in life.
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-020-00220-7
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References found in this work BETA

Mortal Questions.Thomas Nagel - 1979 - Cambridge University Press.
Meaning in Life and Why It Matters.Susan Wolf - 2010 - Princeton University Press.
Meaning in Life and Why It Matters (Markus Rüther).Susan Wolf - 2011 - Philosophischer Literaturanzeiger 64 (3):308.
Mortal Questions.Thomas Nagel - 1983 - Religious Studies 19 (1):96-99.

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Citations of this work BETA

Anger and Absurdity.Daniel Coren - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 24 (3):717-732.

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