We are very excited to be hosting the sixth Conference on Philosophy and Meaning in Life, which this time will take place in person on the campus of the University of Liverpool. There’s no need to worry, though: all talks and Q&A sessions will also be live-streamed, so that remote participation and interaction remains possible. Of course you would then miss your chance of visiting Liverpool, which according to the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung is the “pool of life”, which “makes to live”. John Lennon, who grew up here, was equally enthusiastic, though slightly more prosaic: “A good place to wash your hair”, he said. “Good soft water”. Either way, Liverpool is well worth a visit.
About the conference
The question what, if anything, makes our life meaningful, has in recent years received considerable critical attention from philosophers. Yet meaning in life continues to be a fascinatingly rich topic with plenty of aspects that remain controversial or have not been sufficiently explored yet. For instance, how much difference is there between individuals in terms of what makes life meaningful for us? How much difference is there between cultures? Are non-human animals capable of living meaningful lives? Can inanimate things have a meaningful existence, and if so, is what makes their existence meaningful also what makes human existence meaningful? Is there such a thing as anti-meaning? How do we decide which activities are objectively valuable and which not? Do we have a right to meaning? If so, does it follow that as a society we have an obligation to provide people with what they need to live meaningful lives? Why do we care about meaning in the first place? What exactly would be lost if our life was meaningless? How is meaning in life affected by the changes brought about by the rapid technological advancements we are currently witnessing? Is AI perhaps a greater threat to our ability to live meaningful lives than it is to our survival?
Call for papers
We invite proposals for 30-minute on-site presentations on any of the questions above and on any other aspects of the topic that you think you have something interesting to say about. The Call for Papers is now open, and the deadline for submissions is 10 January 2024. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by 31 January 2024.
Submission should include the title of your proposed presentation, an abstract of up to 400 words, your affiliation, email address, academic title and position.
Organiser: Professor Michael Hauskeller and the Department of Philosophy of the University of Liverpool
Tatjana Schnell is Professor of Existential Psychology at the MF School of Theology, Religion and Society in Oslo (Norway), runs the Existential Psychology Lab at the University of Innsbruck (Austria), and is the author of 'The Psychology of Meaning in Life' (Routledge 2021). (https://mf.no/en/staff/tatjana-schnell)
James Tartaglia is Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at Keele University (UK), leads the band Continuum of Selves, which combines jazz music with philosophical ideas, and is the author of 'Philosophy in a Meaningless Life' (Bloomsbury 2016). (https://jamestartaglia.com/)
Kieran Setiya is Professor of Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (USA), and is the author of 'Midlife. A Philosophical Guide' (Princeton University Press 2017) and 'Life Is Hard. How Philosophy Can Help Us Find Our Way' (Penguin 2022) (http://www.ksetiya.net/)
Conference Fee: Conference Fee: £120 (in person), £60 (online). 50% discount for students. 20% discount for early bird registration (until 15 March). Conference dinner: £35.
Fee waivers and adjustments: Attending the conference is free for staff and students of the University of Liverpool. If you would like to request a reduced or waived registration fee for reasons related to income and financial circumstances please contact the organiser firstname.lastname@example.org and these will be considered on a case by case basis.
In-person registration open until 31 May 2024. Online registration open until 17 June.
Deadline for abstract submissions 10 January 2024.
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