First Part: Write a short philosophical dialogue of 250-500 words that critically engages with the question of the meaning of life.
Your dialogue should include at least two characters (it’s not a monologue!).
At least one of the characters should be a Unit 2 author (Tolstoy, Camus, Taylor, Wolf, Cahn, or Frankl). The other character(s) could be another author and/or a random person.
At some point in the dialogue, one of the characters must raise an objection (i.e., a doubt or concern) about that author’s conception of the meaning of life and that author should respond to it.
Second Part: Write an essay of 600-900 words answering the following questions:
- How do you understand the question of the meaning of life?
- What is your chosen author(s)’s answer to the question of the meaning of life? Use evidence from the course readings to support your analysis.
Where in your dialogue does a character raise an objection to the author’s answer? What is the nature of the objection? Does the author successfully answer this objection?
- On the whole, do you agree or disagree with the author’s answer to the question of the meaning of life? Why or why not?
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Adapted from the following text, first published in 1949: Frankl, Viktor E. “The Case for a Tragic Optimism” (postscript to Man’s Search for Meaning). New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984. Let us first ask ourselves what should be understood by “a tragic optimism.” In brief it means that one is, and remains, optimistic in spite of the “tragic triad,” which consists of those aspects of human existence which may be circumscribed by: (1) pain; (2) guilt; and (3) death. How is it possible to say yes to life in spite of all that? How, to pose the question differently, can life retain its potential meaning in spite of its tragic aspects? After all, “saying yes to life in spite of everything,” presupposes that life is potentially meaningful under any conditions, even those which are most miserable. And this in turn presupposes the human capacity t
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