ABSTRACT

In contemporary Anglo-American philosophy, there has been substantial debate between religious and secular theorists about what would make life meaningful, with a large majority of the religious philosophers having drawn on Christianity. In this article, in contrast, I draw on Judaism, with the aims of articulating characteristically Jewish approaches to life's meaning, which is a kind of intellectual history, and of providing some support for them relative to familiar Christian and Islamic approaches (salient in the Tanakh, the New Testament, and the Qur'an), which is a more philosophical enterprise. Sometimes I point out that dominant views in contemporary philosophy favor a Jewish approach to meaning relative to rivals, e.g., insofar as Judaism contends that a merely earthly life can be meaningful. Other times I suggest that Judaism provides reason to doubt dominant views in recent analytic philosophy, e.g., to the extent that the former posits a people, not merely a person, as a bearer of meaning.

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