Why We Cannot Be the Source of Our Own Existential Meaning

“There is not one big cosmic meaning for all,” said writer Anaïs Nin, expressing an absurd but frequently touted idea, “there is only the meaning we each give to our life.” Philosopher Bill Vallicella explains why such claims are nonsense:

Note that if I must first give my life meaning, if it is to have some, then it has no meaning prior to and independent of my giving it meaning. And yet I must exist prior (both logically and temporally) to the decisions, resolutions, declamations, and whatnot whereby I give my life meaning. This implies that the acts of meaning-bestowal and the subject whose acts they are, exist meaninglessly. These acts, however, are mine, and their subject is me. It follows that my existence and my acts of meaning-bestowal are meaningless.

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