The search for a meaningful life is huge. Every generation has its own way of dealing with the question. Some simply deny the need for meaning, effectively reducing life to random chemical reactions. My generation, on the other hand, seems to recognize the need for meaning. We value peace and tolerance. We exalt community service. Saving the planet is also a worthy, if somewhat overrated, cause. We seek meaningful professions over more lucrative ones, hence one of the reasons I decided on an education career. Overall the postmodern generation seems very optimistic about life. Perhaps I’m too much of a cynic, but I wonder how long our optimism will last. Will we really find ultimate purpose in the small things? I love life and my pursuits. Yet in my more melancholy (and honest) moments I realize that, without some overarching purpose, all my ambitions as an educator seem completely ridiculous. Like Sisyphus, I’m just a part of the gut-wrenching monotony called life. As much as I appreciate postmodernism’s emphasis on meaning, I believe it denies the reality of the ultimate question by numbing it with meaningful pieces instead of answering it with a meaningful whole.
For one of my classes this last fall I read Peter Kreeft’s Three Philosophies of Life; the book changed the way I think about life. His chapter on the book of Ecclesiastes explores the question of purpose. Attached below is an essay I wrote in response to one of his claims about the book. Enjoy for whatever it’s worth.