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Fear of Meaninglessness

Fear of Meaninglessness

Chapter:
(p.69) 5 Fear of Meaninglessness
Source:
Human Predicaments
Author(s):
John Kekes
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226359595.003.0005

The object of fear is the loss of the meaning of life. It threatens if our evaluative framework is called into question. This chapter is about the prudent strategy for coping with this fear. A reasonable strategy is exemplified by the cases of the Azande, the Kalabari, Montaigne, Descartes, and Hume. These cases show that there may be good reasons for prudently decentering the fear. An unreasonable strategy that avoids facing the fear is exemplified by Reid. The difficult question is how to distinguish between reasonable and unreasonable strategies for coping with the fear. The answer is context-dependent. There can be no ideal theory of a reasonable prudent strategy that should be followed in all contexts. Our vulnerability to this fear is an unavoidable problem in our evaluative framework. The search for an ideal theory that would enable us to avoid the fear is doomed to failure.

Keywords:   problems, fear, prudence, meaning, Azande case, Kalabaricase, evaluative framework, reason, overriding, context dependence

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