If meaningfulness is not always fulfilling, why then does it matter?


We start from a quandary in the field of meaningfulness introduced by Susan Wolf, who attempts to make clear why meaning in life would matter. In common sense terms, fulfilment is considered to play a main role in the conceptualisation of meaningfulness. While initially taking this also for granted Wolf gradually comprehends that fulfilment is not the overall reason why meaning in life matters. She leaves however open the paramount question of what would make it then so particular. In this article, we explore this query to a fuller extent, and maintain that a promising road to an answer lays in the understanding that meaning in life is directive in an ineffable way. In order to fathom what this entails, a distinction between meaningfulness’ and ‘meaning in life’ will prove helpful. Both have often been considered synonyms, but we argue that they are quite distinct, yet intrinsically related. Starting from a subject that is mainly discussed in analytic philosophy, we build a bridge to phenomenological praxis, indicating that we can only understand its core function - its ineffable way of being directive - through phenomenology.

Keywords: proneness to being moved, directiveness, meaningfulness, meaning in life

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