The Meaning of Life

Three silhouetted figures look at a star-filled sky.

“Why.” A photo by Jordan Condon. (Image courtesy of Jordan Condon. Source: Wikimedia Commons. License CC BY.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Spring 2019



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Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

This course examines how a variety of cultural traditions propose answers to the question of how to live a meaningful life. It considers the meaning of life, not as a philosophical abstraction, but as a question that individuals grapple with in their daily lives, facing difficult decisions between meeting and defying cultural expectations. The course also provides tools for thinking about moral decisions as social and historical practices, and permits students to compare and contextualize the ways people in different times and places approach fundamental ethical concerns.

Related Content

Graham Jones, and Heather Paxson. 21A.157 The Meaning of Life. Spring 2019. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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