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 illustrates in this book. Part One of the book presents an historical overview of philosophers from Plato to Hegel and Marx who have believed in some sort of meaning of life, either in some supposed "other" world or in the future of this world. Part Two looks at what happened when the traditional structures that provided life with meaning ceased to be believed. With nothing to take their place, these structures gave way to the threat of nihilism, to the appearance that life is meaningless. Julian Young looks at the responses to this threat in the work of Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, Foucault and Derrida.
Julian Young is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Auckland and Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Tasmania. His most recent books are Heidegger's Philosophy of Art (2001), and Heidegger's Later Philosophy (2002).