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Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics Volume 11$
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Mark Timmons

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780192856913

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780192856913.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 04 July 2022

Against Seizing the Day

Against Seizing the Day

Chapter:
(p.91) 5 Against Seizing the Day
Source:
Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics Volume 11
Author(s):

Antti Kauppinen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780192856913.003.0006

On a widely accepted view, what gives meaning to our lives is success in valuable ground projects. However, philosophers like Kieran Setiya have recently challenged the value of such orientation toward the future, and argued that meaningful living is instead a matter of engaging in atelic activities that are complete in themselves at each moment. This chapter argues that insofar as what is at issue is meaningfulness in its primary existential sense, strongly atelic activities do not suffice for meaning. Instead, finding one’s life meaningful is warranted both by sustainable success in valuable prospective (future-oriented) projects and by success in reflexive projects that aim to promote or realize a practice-dependent value that can be realized at each moment, but never for good. Activities of the latter kind are only weakly atelic, since their aim remains distinct from the activity, and individual actions gain significance from serving a long-term commitment. Thus, whether our ground projects are prospective or reflexive, what we do at each moment contributes to leading a meaningful life only when it’s connected in the right way to what we do at other moments.

Keywords:   meaningfulness, project, midlife crisis, well-being, time

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