AP/PHIL1100 3.0 A: The Meaning of Life

Offered by: PHIL


Summer 2019






Calendar Description / Prerequisite / Co-Requisite

An exploration of a number of fundamental practical philosophical questions, including: What is the meaning of (my) life? What is happiness, and how can I achieve it? What is wisdom? What is death, and what does it mean to me?

Course Website

Many courses utilize Moodle, York University's course website system. If your course is using Moodle, refer to the image below to access it.

    Additional Course Instructor/Contact Details

Dr. David N. Stamos


Office Location:  S447 Ross

Phone Number:  (416) 736-2100 Ext. 33134

Office Hours:  TBA

    Expanded Course Description

In this course we will critically examine arguments on various issues concerning the meaning of life, which is one of the key “What is x?” questions in philosophy. Hence, what is the meaning of life?

The content of the course will be divided into a number of sections: some answers from ancient philosophers, the meaning of the question itself, some theistic answers, and finally some non-theistic answers, including answers from philosophers and non-philosophers, the latter including mainly biologists and psychologists.

The goal of this course is not to reach any final conclusion on our topic, let alone to indoc­trinate, but rather to develop a critical understanding of many of the answers to our question and an appreciation of the related issues and problems. Students from all back­grounds are welcome but should keep in mind that this is a philosophy course, not a religion course, and intel­lectual curiosity is the key.

    Required Course Text / Readings

No text. The readings will be from pdfs and websites.

    Weighting of Course

In-Class Test               25%

Essay                           30%

Tutorial Attendance    10%

Final Exam                  35% (Do not book a trip during the exam period)

    Organization of the Course

two 120-minute lectures per week and one 120-minute tutorial per week.

NOTE: this is a double-speed course, which means in effect that you will be taking the equivalent of two courses over a six-week period—i.e., it’s double intensive, and also double enjoyment.

    Course Learning Objectives

Comprehension of the lectures and reading material, development of critical reasoning skills, and improved essay writing.

    Additional Information / Notes

As this course deals with the topic of death, students who have recently suffered a death in the family, or have a loved one in the hospital possibly on their deathbed, or are taking medication for depression, or are simply having a problem with thinking about death, including especially the possibility of death as nothingness, should consider taking this course at another time.

    Relevant Links / Resources