Posted by: bluesyemre | October 12, 2021

The meaning of life according to different schools of #philosophy (#infographic)

Can the meaning of life be told in a word? Maybe it is naive, but there is nothing wrong with wanting a simple answer to an apparently simple question: why live? Here we visualized the most prominent philosophies that tackled this question over the past 5000 years.

All philosophies on the meaning of life seem to fall into one of the four groups:

  1. life has an objective meaning;
  2. life has a subjective meaning;
  3. life has no meaning;
  4. life has a supernatural/unexplainable meaning.

The philosophies of the East and West also follow a pattern: Easterners think in terms of “we”, the community, while Westerners think in terms of “I”, the individual.

Then there is a question of what is a philosophy. Ideologies and religions are often mistaken for philosophies and vice versa. Take Daoism, for example, Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines it as a philosophyBut the Cambridge Dictionary defines it as a religionAll belief systems that are definitely religions fall under “theism” in this infographic.

We follow the history of philosophy chronologically. Roughly, all philosophies follow this pattern: first, people appeal to God and supernatural forces, then they look for meaning within the community, later they look at the individual person, and finally, they look at humanity as a whole. We start with Natural Pantheism, humanity’s first attempt to explain its existence.


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