Sinnstiftung durch soziale Einbettung


  • Michael Kühler Münster


Sinnvolles Leben, Sinn im Leben, Gutes Leben, Soziale Einbettung

Key words:

Meaningful Life, Meaning in Life, Good Life, Social Embeddedness


English version

Current philosophical debate about meaning in life is basically centered around questions of value. According to the mainstream of the debate, a person enjoys meaning in life if she pursues and realizes suitable values. In my paper I reject this value centered approach to meaning in life. Instead, I use a value neutral way of posing the question of meaning in life: how must elements in life be shaped in order to be able to generate meaning in life, so that the person and others may be justified in the corresponding assessment? Based on a critical discussion of Susan Wolf’s hybrid theory of meaning in life, I argue that it is primarily the social embeddedness of one’s actions that generates meaning in life: meaning in life is constituted, firstly, by socially embedding one’s actions, i.e. if one acts together with and for others, and, secondly, by caring about this social embeddedness (and optionally also about the ends of the corresponding actions). However, elements in life which are capable of generating meaning in this sense are still open to criticism. Not all of these elements, i.e. instances of social embeddedness of one’s actions and life, are equally valuable and worth pursuing. Such criticism may stem from prudential reasoning in light of a reflection on how to live an overall good life or from moral reasoning in light of the fact that certain instances of social embeddedness and their corresponding ends may be immoral. In any case, if my arguments are plausible, the value centered mainstream of the debate about meaning in life should be seen more critically.



Kühler, M. (2018). Sinnstiftung durch soziale Einbettung. Zeitschrift für Praktische Philosophie, 5(2), 151–178.



Schwerpunkt: Das Schöne, Wahre und Gute. Das sinnvolle Leben in der Diskussion