Finding meaning in an imperfect world

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


After explaining what meaning in life is, the book moves to criticizing certain presuppositions about the meaning of life that unnecessarily lead many people to believe that their lives are meaningless. Among others, it criticizes perfectionism about meaning in life, namely, the assumption that meaningful lives must include some perfection or some rare and difficult achievements. It then responds to recurring arguments made by people who take their lives to be meaningless, such as the arguments claiming that life is meaningless because death eventually annihilates us and everything we do; whatever we do is negligible when examined in the context of the whole universe; we have no free will and, thus, deserve no praise for what we achieve; everything, including meaning, is completely relative; we do not know what the purpose of life is; whenever we achieve something we stop sensing it as valuable; and there is so much suffering and evil in the world. The book also offers strategies that may help people identify what is meaningful in life and increase its meaningfulness. The final chapters consider questions such as whether only religious people can have meaningful lives; whether meaning of life should be discussed only by psychologists; and whether existentialism is a good source of guidance on the meaning of life.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages299
ISBN (Electronic)9780190657666
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2017. All rights reserved.


  • Death
  • Existentialism
  • Goal of life
  • Meaning
  • Meaning in life
  • Meaning of life
  • Meaningfulness
  • Meaninglessness
  • Perfectionism
  • Relativism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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