The Death of God and the Meaning of Life
By Julian Young
Routledge – 2014 – 288 pages
What is the meaning of life? In the post-modern, post-religious scientific world, this question is becoming a preoccupation. But it also has a long history: many major figures in philosophy had something to say on the subject, as Julian Young vividly illustrates in this thought-provoking second edition of The Death of God and the Meaning of Life.
All the chapters of the first edition have been re-thought and rewritten. In addition, there are three entirely new chapters: on Kierkegaard, Marx, and Freud.
Part One presents an historical overview of philosophers - from Plato to Kierkegaard, Hegel and Marx - who have believed in a meaning of life, either in some supposed 'other' world or in the future of this world. Part Two assesses what happened when the traditional structures that provided life with meaning began to erode. With nothing to take their place, these structures gave way to the threat of nihilism - the appearance that life is meaningless. Young looks at the responses to this threat in chapters on Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, Foucault, and Derrida.
This compelling and highly engaging exploration of fundamental values will captivate anyone who's ever asked themselves where life's meaning (if there is one) really lies. It also makes a perfect historical introduction to philosophy, particularly to the continental tradition.
Introduction Part 1: Before the Death of God 1. Plato 2. Kant and Christianity 3. Kierkegaard 4. Schopenhauer 5. Freud 6. Early Nietzsche 7. Hegel 8. Marx Part 2: After the Death of God 9. Later Nietzsche 10. Posthumous Nietzsche 11. Early Heidegger 12. Sartre 13. Sartre (Continued) 14. Camus 15. Foucault 16. Derrida 17. Later Heidegger. Index
Julian Young is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Humanities in the Philosophy Department at Wake Forest University, USA. He is the author of twelve books, including Schopenhauer (Routledge, 2005). His Friedrich Nietzsche: a Philosophical Biography won the Association of American Publishers 2010 PROSE award for philosophy.