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The Meaning of Life

A Reader

Third Edition

Edited by E. D. Klemke and Steven M. Cahn

Publication Date - October 2007

ISBN: 9780195327304

272 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $37.95

Featuring nine new articles chosen by coeditor Steven M. Cahn, the third edition of E. D. Klemke's The Meaning of Life offers twenty-two insightful selections that explore this fascinating topic.


Featuring nine new articles chosen by coeditor Steven M. Cahn, the third edition of E. D. Klemke's The Meaning of Life offers twenty-two insightful selections that explore this fascinating topic. The essays are primarily by philosophers but also include materials from literary figures and religious thinkers. As in previous editions, the readings are organized around three themes. In Part I the articles defend the view that without faith in God, life has no meaning or purpose. In Part II the selections oppose this claim, defending instead a nontheistic, humanistic alternative--that life can have meaning even in the absence of theistic commitment. In Part III the contributors ask whether the question of the meaning of life is itself meaningful.
The third edition adds substantial essays by Moritz Schlick, Joel Feinberg, and John Kekes as well as selections from the writings of Louis P. Pojman, Emil L. Fackenheim, Robert Nozick, Susan Wolf, and Steven M. Cahn. The only anthology of its kind, The Meaning of Life: A Reader, Third Edition, is ideal for courses in introduction to philosophy, human nature, and the meaning of life. It also offers general readers an accessible and stimulating introduction to the subject.

Previous Publication Date(s)

September 1999
January 1981


"Not only does this book deliver on the topic, but readers also gain an insightful perspective on human nature. The editors allos readers to make their own interpretation, which adds to the excellence of the book. The Meaning of Life: A Reader should be considered a valuable addition to the scholarship of this topic."--Mindy Young, Dialogue

"The book includes a broad selection of some of the best philosophical writings on the question of the meaning of life; there is no other volume like this one."--Timothy Shanahan, Loyola Marymount University

"Klemke and Cahn have done a masterful job amassing historical and contemporary writings that students should grapple with as they question the meaning of life."--Mary Domski, University of New Mexico

"The third edition of this reader provides a strong foundation for helping students to think critically and systematically about the nature of reality and the meaning of life."--Dawn Jakubowski, University of Central Arkansas

Table of Contents

    *=New to this edition
    Preface to the Third Edition
    Preface to the Second Edition
    Introduction. The Question of the Meaning of Life E.D. Klemke
    1. Leo Tolstoy: My Confession
    2. David F. Swenson: The Dignity of Human Life
    * 3. Louis P. Pojman: Religion Gives Meaning to Life
    * 4. Emil L. Fackenheim: Judaism and the Meaning of Life
    5. Philip L. Quinn: The Meaning of Life According to Christianity
    * 6. Arthur Schopenhauer: On the Sufferings of the World
    7. Bertrand Russell: A Free Man's Worship
    * 8. Moritz Schlick: On the Meaning of Life
    9. Albert Camus: The Myth of Sisyphus
    10. Kurt Baier: The Meaning of Life
    11. Paul Edwards: The Meaning and Value of Life
    12. Richard Taylor: The Meaning of Life
    13. Thomas Nagel: The Absurd
    * 14. Joel Feinberg: Absurd Self-Fulfillment
    15. E. D. Klemke: Living Without Appeal: An Affirmative Philosophy of Life
    16. A. J. Ayer: The Claims of Philosophy
    17. Kai Nielsen: Linguistic Philosophy and "The Meaning of Life"
    18. John Wisdom: The Meanings of the Questions of Life
    * 19. Robert Nozick: Philosophy and the Meaning of Life
    * 20. Susan Wolf: Meaning in Life
    * 21. Steven M. Cahn: Meaningless Lives?
    * 22. John Kekes: The Meaning of Life