ONE ENCHANTED BEING: NEUROEXISTENTIALISM AND MEANING

Authors

  • Owen Flanagan

    1. James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, and Professor of Neurobiology at Duke University, Durham NC 27701.
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract.

The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World is my attempt to explain whether and how existential meaning is possible in a material world, and how such meaning is best conceived naturalistically. Neuroexistentialism conceives of our predicament in accordance with Darwin plus neuroscience. The prospects for our kind of being-in-the-world are limited by our natures as smart but fully embodied short-lived animals. Many find this picture disenchanting, even depressing. I respond to four criticisms of my relentless upbeat naturalism: that naturalism can make no room for norms, for values; that I overvalue truth at the expense of happiness; that I underestimate the extent to which supernaturalism has made peace with naturalism; and that I can give no account for why humans as finite animals should want to overcome our given natures and seek impersonal, self-transcendent value.

Ancillary