As with all reviews on this website, our goal is not to provide a complete overview of the book; rather, it is to examine how the book relates to the meaning of life.
What is the Meaning of Life? is a short book by Vern Lovic that can be read in about an hour. The book is an extension of a blog post from one of his websites. Given that the book was found in the Amazon "bargain bin" for $1.22, I was pretty skeptical given the slew of other not so great meaning of life books I've found there in the past. But, Lovic's book is surprisingly refreshing.
Lovic does what a lot of philosophy professors try to do, but does it in a way that is understandable to readers of almost any age or educational background. He examines what various people deem to be the meaning of life, and then asks the readers a series of questions prompting them to think in-depth. The chapters are a few pages in length at most. Listed below you can find an outline of the chapters included in the book.
1. High School & College
9. Collecting Toys
12. Bliss - Happiness
13. Buddhist Nirvana
15. Hanging Loose
18. Helping Others
19. People from All Over Share Their Ideas
The first chapter is geared towards high school and college students struggling to find their way in the world, to comes to terms with parents who can sometimes be overbearing, and of course how to ask the right questions to find meaning in one's life. In chapters 2-18, Lovic explores some of the most common answers to the question What is the point of life?.
For example, is success the meaning of life? Andre Agassi hated tennis but was very successful at the sport—yet, it didn't bring him happiness or meaning. Conversely, for some athletes, sports may yield purpose. How about love, is that it? If so, why did nearly half of marriages end in divorce at the end of the 20th century? How about learning? On this Lovic says the following:
If someone dedicated their entire lives to learning - and focused only on learning new information - would they be happy? Would they say - I've found the meaning of life? I don't know anyone like this... do you?
It has be happiness right?
If so, wouldn't we all just get addicted to cocaine or some other drug and strive to be out of our heads most of our lives?
Buddhism? Ending the cycle of infinite reincarnation? Lovic believes it is a selfish act to remove oneself from the world to meditate and to reach nirvana.
So what exactly does Lovic believe is the meaning of life? He concludes the following:
The best thing I can come up with is that the entire point of my life should be, and is, to help other people get through life a little bit easier by helping in some way.
Okay, so there is nothing revolutionary here, nothing profoundly lifechanging in "his" answer. It is his questioning the reader's blind beliefs which can be life changing. He also gives a more universal answer at the end, which essential boils down to the fact that only you can, and should, answer the question yourself. After that, the book closes with some of his friends giving their 2 cents, some of which are found below.
And in one word, the answer from your list I'd chose is love. It's what turns a cold, lonely universe into one of meaning -- for me, at least. - Leo Babauta
Meaning is subjective and every person on this planet creates a unique meaning, or set of meanings, for themselves, which constantly change and evolve as new experiences open up doors to new meanings. - Yaro Starak
Some people will find their meaning in helping others, some will find it in their passions, some will find it in a bottle or a pipe and who am I to say that any of them are wrong. It’s impossible to say that there is ONE overriding meaning in life. Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad and others have tried to tell us the meaning of life and yet thousands of years later humanity is still struggling with this question. - Steve Walters
The meaning of life is life. Existence is an end in itself. There is value even in suffering, even on a bad day. Helping others is nice, growth is nice, but in the end--we are here because we are here. Nothing more is needed. Patrick Meninga
An ant is born and dies. A cat is born and dies. A shark is born and dies. What is their Meaning of Life? A human is born and dies. The difference is, many of us have an ability to make a difference, but we individually choose not to. Imagine how it could be if they all did make a difference. Making a Difference in Someone’s Life. That's my belief about the Meaning of Life. - Stu Hasic
If you are looking for a quick, non-intellectual overview of typical answers to the meaning of life, this is the book for you.
Book rating: Overall - 7 Meaning of Life Relevance - 10 Uniqueness – 4
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