The Meaning of Life: A Very Short Introduction [#186]
The Meaning of Life: A Very Short Introduction [#186]


  • An intelligent, witty, and refreshingly approachable guide to the ultimate question
  • Ties in philosophy and literature - from the 12th century scholastics to Marx, Schopenhauer, Sartre, and Beckett
  • Reveals how the the philosophy of language can be applied to questions of any kind, how meaning can be understood and applied, and where the limits of questioning lie
  • Eagleton suggests that the problem of the meaning of life arose with modernity. He looks at the cultural and philosophical reasons for this, and examines the meaninglessness that appears to plague our times - from 'New Age softheadedness' to fundamentalism
  • After surveying a variety of possible candidates, Eagleton suggests his own, perhaps surprising, conclusion to the answer to the meaning of life

Philosophers have an infuriating habit of analysing questions rather than answering them', writes Terry Eagleton, who, in these pages, asks the most important question any of us ever ask, and attempts to answer it.

So what is the meaning of life? In this witty, spirited, and stimulating inquiry, Eagleton shows how centuries of thinkers - from Shakespeare and Schopenhauer to Marx, Sartre and Beckett - have tackled the question. Refusing to settle for the bland and boring, Eagleton reveals with a mixture of humour and intellectual rigour how the question has become particularly problematic in modern times. Instead of addressing it head-on, we take refuge from the feelings of 'meaninglessness' in our lives by filling them with a multitude of different things: from football and sex, to New Age religions and fundamentalism. 

Many of the readers of this book are likely to be as sceptical of the phrase "the meaning of life" as they are of Santa Claus', he writes. But Eagleton contends that in a world where we need to find common meanings, it is important that we set about answering the question of all questions; and, in conclusion, he suggests his own answer.


1: Questions and Answers
2: The Problem of Meaning
3: The Eclipse of Meaning
4: Is Life What You Make It?
Further reading


Terry Eagleton is John Edward Taylor Professor of English at the University of Manchester. His recent publications include Holy Terror (2005); The English Novel: An Introduction (2004); After Theory (2003); Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic (2002); The Idea of Culture (2000); The Illusions of Postmodernism (1996); and Literary Theory: An Introduction (2nd edition, 1996).

Review from previous edition 
The book's a little gem. - Suzanne Harrington, Irish Examiner (Cork)
Light hearted but never flippant. - The Guardian

Wonders never cease. This is popular philosophy by an amateur in the best sense of the word, a man who clearly loves the stuff and writes plain English...[Eagleton] makes his case well and with a light touch. - The Guardian (Review)
It is a stimulating and often entertaining, if at times rather breathless, Cook's tour around the chief monuments of western philosophy and literature...The Meaning of Life is unusual and refreshing. - John Gray, The Independent

[Eagleton] makes his case well and with a light touch... I stand convinced. - Simon Jenkins, Guardian Book of the Week

A lively starting point for late-night debate. - John Cornwell, Sunday Times

Warm intellectual pleasure...meticulous treatment of the subject...It looks like Eagleton got it right. - Mario Pisani, The Financial Times
The name Terry Eagleton...assures us of stimulation, style, sparkling, sometimes acerbic, wit, and wide-ranging erudition. In other words he is eminently readable...[a] commendably pocket-sized book. - Gordon Parsons, Morning Star

With sparkling effrontery, panache, and deft footwork, Eagleton moves from ironic flippancy and caustic demolition to resolute affirmation. - Marina Warner


ISBN : 9780199532179

Terry Eagleton
128 ページ
111 x 174 mm
Very Short Introductions





The Meaning of Life: A Very Short Introduction [#186]

The Meaning of Life: A Very Short Introduction [#186]

The Meaning of Life: A Very Short Introduction [#186]