Controversial Ideas 2022, 2(1), 13; doi: 10.35995/jci02010013
Life Is Pointless—Good Point...and How Do You Feel about That?
1 Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Missouri, USA;
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 23 May 2021 / Revised: 7 Dec 2021 / Accepted: 24 Feb 2022 / Published: 29 Apr 2022
This essay is in response to R. Weinberg, whose title well-summarizes the article: “Ultimate Meaning: We Don’t Have It, We Can’t Get It, and We Should Be Very, Very Sad.” This response accepts the idea that life is pointless but argues against the non sequitur that we should be very, very sad. There is a question as to whether “should” means that being sad is the appropriate thing to do, or whether it is a prediction about what will happen if people understand the pointlessness of life. Either way, from the perspective of cognitive psychology, clearly the implied causal path from thought to feeling does not always hold; considerable evidence suggests that, often, causation goes the other way around, that feelings influence thoughts. A person’s feeling sad or depressed might increase the likelihood that the person will conclude that life is pointless, or that the person will worry about it. Nobody has proven that the pointlessness of existence is incompatible with satisfaction in one’s life, or that not feeling sad means one is overlooking the pointlessness of life, or that feeling sad is more appropriate or better in some way. In sum, I wish people happiness and urge them to try to construct a meaning in their life.
Keywords: meaning of life; happiness; sadness; psychology; reasoning; emotion; reasoning and emotion
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Cowan, N. Life Is Pointless—Good Point...and How Do You Feel about That? Controversial_Ideas 2022, 2, 13.
Cowan N. Life Is Pointless—Good Point...and How Do You Feel about That? Journal of Controversial Ideas. 2022; 2(1):13.
Cowan, Nelson. 2022. "Life Is Pointless—Good Point...and How Do You Feel about That?" Controversial_Ideas 2, no. 1: 13.