chapter  1
22 Pages

European modernity in the light of the history of the entropy of meaning

A philosophical analysis
WithAndrius Bielskis

The first chapter argues that the key question of philosophy is the question posed by Albert Camus, the question of whether life is worth living and whether it has any meaning. Twentieth-century existentialists – Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Albert Camus – raised the question of the meaning of existence seriously, yet they provided philosophically unconvincing answers. What is needed therefore is to raise this question anew and do so from an Aristotelian point of view. Yet the question of the meaning of life should be understood against the background of European modernity. Marked by a plethora of narratives of meaninglessness and the absurdity of human life, modernity is here interpreted in terms of its three essential characteristics: the socially embodied idea of self-determination, humanism, and domination. Thus it is not the independence of three validity spheres and the rationalisation of the life-world that characterise modernity, as Jürgen Habermas argues, but the advancement of humanism as the radical transformation of nature to the extent that almost everything becomes culture. A key feature of this culture is the growing sense of meaninglessness, the consequence of the gradual commodification of the world.