Volume 94, 2020
The Good, the True, the Beautiful: Through and of the Ages
A Defense of Robert Nozick’s Theory of the Meaning of Life
Some Thomistic Considerations
Robert Nozick argues that the problem of the meaning of life is caused by limitations, especially death. Consequently, attaining meaning in one’s life requires connecting to something larger than oneself. Since anything can be conceived of as meaningless from a wide enough perspective, meaning will ultimately depend on connecting to “the unlimited.” Although initially plausible, this theory of meaning is vulnerable to a number of objections. One is that “the unlimited” is an incoherent notion due to the necessity that it include ideas that are contradictory to each other, and another is that the meaning of life ought to include internal goods, which Nozick ignores. I will defend Nozick’s theory against these two objections by bringing in elements of the thought of Aristotle and St. Thomas.