The Meaning of Life

Overview

'What is the meaning of life?' seems to be one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves. But how should we understand this question? Why have many philosophers suggested that our lives are meaningless? In what ways might God be a source of meaning? And can life be seen as meaningful by those who do not believe in God’s existence? Is my life meaningful if I am a moral person or live in accordance with my nature? Does the meaning of my life lie in the achievement of certain goals or is it more important to enjoy the present moment? We’ll discuss the answers various philosophers have given to these and other questions about the meaning of life.

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study, or exploring the many places of interest in and around the city.

Please note that OUDCE reserves the right to alter course content and/or cancel field trips in accordance with government guidance.

Monday
Introduction. Different interpretations of the question 'What is the meaning of life?'

Why have some philosophers deemed life to be meaningless? We discuss the view that life is meaningless because there is no God and ask in what ways religion can offer meaning.

Tuesday
Do we have to invent values and meaning? We examine subjectivist views about the meaning of life and start searching for objectivist alternatives. Was Socrates right in claiming that an unexamined life is not worth living and that being a good person is a necessary condition of living a good life?

Wednesday
Is a meaningful life a life lived in accordance with our nature? We discuss Aristotle’s and Rousseau’s views.

We also start considering the connection between meaning in life and the pursuit of goals, in particular the position that the pursuit of goals isn’t important because some activities are meaningful independent of their effects.

Thursday
We discuss the view that striving towards goals is an important ingredient of a meaningful life and that lasting achievements can give our lives meaning.

Some believe that our lives are meaningless because of our smallness in comparison to the universe. Is it possible to give our lives more meaning by transcending our limits?

Friday
Is a meaningful life a life that tells a good story? Does the meaningfulness of our lives depend on when and how we die? Would our lives be more or less meaningful if we were immortal?

Fees

Description Costs
Fee option 1 (single en suite accom and meals) £1565.00
Fee option 2 (single standard accom and meals) £1380.00
Fee option 3 (twin en suite accom and meals) £1472.50
Fee option 4 (double en suite accom and meals) £1472.50
Fee option 5 (twin set standard accom and meals) £1380.00
Fee option 6 (no accom; incl lunch and dinner) £1070.00

Payment

All fees are charged on a per week, per person basis.

Please be aware that all payments (and refunds) are subject to exchange rates at the time of processing.

Payment terms

  • If enrolling online: full payment by credit/debit card at the time of booking
  • If submitting an application form: full payment online by credit/debit card or via bank transfer within 30 days of invoice date

Cancellations and refunds

Participants who wish to cancel must inform the Programme Administrator in writing: by email to oxfordexperience@conted.ox.ac.uk or by post to The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK.

The following cancellation and refund policy applies in all cases:

  • Cancellation within 14 days of online enrolment / payment of fees – full refund of all fees paid

  • Cancellations received up to and including 30 April 2021 – OUDCE will retain an administration fee of £100 per week booked; all other fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received between 1-31 May 2021 – OUDCE will retain 60% of the fees paid; the remaining 40% of fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received on and after 1 June 2021 - no refunds will be made.

Important note: You need to take out travel insurance to cover the programme fee and travel costs.

Tutor

Dr Andrea Lechler

Andrea Lechler holds an MA and PhD in Philosophy, as well as a degree in Computational Linguistics and an MSc in Artificial Intelligence. She has extensive experience of teaching philosophy for Oxford University Department for Continuing Education and other institutions.

Teaching methods

Participants will be taught in seminar groups of up to 12 people. Elements of this teaching will normally include mini lectures and presentations by tutors and tutor-led class discussions.

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.

Application

Registration closes on 1 May 2021.

Please note: most courses fill up fast so early registration is strongly recommended.

Single accommodation and non-residential places may be booked online by clicking on the “Book now” button in the “Course details” box at the top right-hand side of the course page.

If you experience any difficulties enrolling online please contact the Programme Administrator at oxfordexperience@conted.ox.ac.uk

Those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form as these rooms cannot be booked online. Completed forms should be sent:

Accommodation

During your course, you will stay in typical Oxford student accommodation at Christ Church in buildings which range from the 18th to the 20th century.

Participants should note that bedrooms are modestly-furnished, do not have air-conditioning and are arranged on a staircase of four or five floors.

The following types of accommodation are available:

  • Single en suite

  • Single standard

  • Twin en suite

  • Double en suite

  • Standard ‘twin set’

En suite rooms include private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). Standard rooms have their own washbasin and shaver point but bathroom facilities are shared. ‘Twin sets’ comprise two single rooms opening off a sitting room.

Please note that only single accommodation may be booked online; those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form. (See “Application”.)

Please indicate your accommodation preferences (either online or on your application form), together with a note of any mobility problems.

We regret that we are unable to offer you accommodation at Christ Church prior to or following your course. Additionally, family or friends who are not enrolled in the programme cannot be accommodated in college.

We also offer places on a non-residential basis whereby participants can take classes and have meals (lunch and dinner) at the college, having arranged their own accommodation elsewhere.