In chapter one, I discuss three primary ways to understand the concept of ‘meaning'. The first is ‘meaning’ as instrumental value, the second is ‘meaning’ as non-instrumental value, and the third is ‘meaning’ as expressive value. Furthermore, I argue for a natural account of meaning, which entails that all three types of meaning can exist without the existence of the supernatural.
In the chapter two, I draw upon Charles Taylor to articulate the unique nature of human beings. Humans are self-interpreting animals and live in a “moral space.” Furthermore, the “self” is most accurately understood as something akin to a text and thus, in order to order to understand ourselves and the meanings of our lives we must do so in the form of narratives.
In chapter three, I draw upon Galen Strawson who argues against a narrative understanding of the “self.” I then refute his claims in defense of Taylor.
In chapter four, I begin discussing the proper epistemological behavior required in order to interpret something truthfully. Given that our memories are inescapably flawed, it seems as though we cannot possibly provide an entirely truthful account of our lives. Be that as it may, we can still interpret the meanings of our lives. To do so, we must implement narrative structure to our life stories in order to understand their meanings.
In chapter five, I address an underlying question that arises when two or more people have truthful but conflicting accounts of one’s life. The question then becomes, “Who is right?”
Davis, Milo E., "Self-interpreting Animals: Understanding the Self and the Meanings of Life" (2017). Senior Independent Study Theses. Paper 7587.
Arts and Humanities | Other Philosophy
narrative, interpretation, hermeneutics
Bachelor of Arts
Senior Independent Study Thesis
© Copyright 2017 Milo E. Davis