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The Meaning of Life from Richard Taylor's book Great and Evil

“The Significance of Life” is an excerpt from Richard Taylor’s book Great and Evil: A New Instructions, with this book Mr. Taylor was believed to have adopted a radical subjectivist view of ethics. In this excerpt he explains why presence and life is worthless and he sheds light into the significance of life. Throughout his explanations Richard utilizes an example from an ancient Greek misconception. The myth has to do with Sisyphus a Greek male who offended the gods and was sentenced to roll a large stone up a hill for all of eternity.

Richard starts his description of the “Meaningless of Presence” with the toils of Sisyphus.

Sisyphus is forced to roll a stone up a hill, when it is near the top the stone will roll back down and he is forced to roll it up once again, only to have it fall again to be rolled up once again and again for all of eternity. It is Sisyphus’ penalty that we will concentrate on.

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Sisyphus is the picture of a “meaningless, pointless toil of a worthless existence that is definitely never ever redeemed”(Taylor, Richard). He has lost all function in life except to roll a stone; it is a never ending problem that he will never awaken from.

Taylor offers other examples of meaningless jobs, a relay designs race with a valuable gem transported backward and forward in a never ending cycle, and a digging hole only to be filled up with the exact same earth.

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The points to all this is that all these jobs are pointless and without significance. The story could be different and Sisyphus can have meaning if he scenario were different, if Sisyphus rolled stone to the top and all the stone accumulated into a fantastic and enduring temple, he would have some meaning to his labors.

If the gods as an after idea made it so that Sisyphus’ just will and desire was to roll stone, then Sisyphus would maybe take enjoyment in his job. This change in his perception does not change his task at hand; it only changes his viewpoint. His is still condemned to an eternity of useless and meaningless labor. For that reason the presence of Sisyphus is meaningless, the labor that he performs leads him nowhere, and whatever that he does is in vain.

The world would be the same with or without his presence. The next section deals with the meaningless of life, he begins this section by explaining what meaningless and meaningfulness is: “Meaningless is essentially endless pointless and meaningfulness is therefore the opposite. ”(Taylor, Richard) for this section he cites ugly blind worms in a New Zealand cave. These worms have the soul purpose of waiting, feeding, transforming into winged adults only living a day or two, mating, laying eggs and finally dying.

This example shows us the meaning of life, an endless cycle that accumulates to nothing, and the “point of living is evidently nothing but life itself. ” (Taylor, Richard) We as humans differ form this only a little. We have goals that we work for; once they are completed we set off after another goal, all this work goes to family and home, only to beget others who will follow in the same foot steps in a cycle. Even though we are stuck in a cycle of endless meaningless toil we look to religion, universal justice, brotherhood or any sort of ever lasting good that we may aim for.

The last part of this excerpt is the “meaning of life” we return to the story of Sisyphus who in this example has completed his beautiful tower and is now faced with eternal boredom, before he was faced with the nightmare of pointless activity now he is faced with the hell of eternal absence and boredom. This leads into his explanation that the meaning to our lives is “our own wills, our deep interest is what we find ourselves doing”(Taylor, Richard). Even though our existence is short and our toils fade we can hold memories of the past.

The point of living is to continue what we are doing because giving up and doing nothing would be no salvation. The resolution to this excerpt is that we live life because our will is to live and build castles for our children so they can build castles for theirs. This question of living has puzzled philosophers for centuries, I have also come across this question, with my reasoning I could not figure it out, for if, great philosophers couldn’t then how could I?

Mr. Taylor’s views are interesting and some of what he says does make sense. The myth of Sisyphus is the focal point of Richard Taylor’s reasoning the meaning of life; he explains Sisyphus eternal punishment in detail. Richard also gives other scenarios of Sisyphus’ task, if his labors accumulated into a beautiful tower or if he was some how made to enjoy rolling stones. I agree that in a way all ours lives are like that of Sisyphus’ toil.

A cycle of endless toil, we work towards our little goals and glimpse of happiness, which are sure to fade over time. The meaningless of life is explained in the second section; Richard uses two insects to show the meaningless of life, the glow worms and the cicadas. Richard states that there is no meaning to life because it is an endless cycle of pointless and meaningless events. At the moment our goals may seem a great deal of importance in our lives but in the end all our toils are pointless and meaningless in the end.

I understand this point in his explanation but I disagree, I think a person can find meaning in every ting they do. It is true that this meaning doesn’t last forever but the pleasure we take from everyday life and experience is well worth it. I don’t believe that everything is meaningless in life just because we all die in the end. I believe that it’s not the end of ones life that is important; it’s the journey that one takes through life. It is the accumulation of everyday happiness that makes our lives worthwhile.

There is an old saying that the end of a journey is not important, it is the lessons we learn along the journey that counts. In the last section of the excerpt is the meaning of life, Richards explains that we live life because of our own will. I also agree with this, living life with a purpose and a will is much better compared to living a life of doing nothing and boredom because we know it eventually ends. I have very optimistic views of human life; I believe that everyone’s life has a meaning and a purpose.

If a person is dying of cancer and has only a few months left, but a doctor performs an operation and saves him, he will have meaning to live again and he will cherish the rest of his life, sure he will die eventually but presently he will be grateful to live and he will give the doctor a reason to continue what he is doing. In my opinion the reason we live is for experience, we live to learn and experience new things. Like that old saying about the journey and the end, it is the process of the journey that is important. We live life not thinking about our deaths, we live it for the experiences that each day brings.

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The Meaning of Life from Richard Taylor's book Great and Evil. (2016, Nov 18). Retrieved from

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