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Reply To: Campbellian article in Philosophy Now


Well done, Alex!

Sucked into the holiday vortex, I didn’t get around to reading your piece until this morning, just before dawn (a favorite time of day for thinking and reflecting, before the rest of the world starts making demands).

I know very little about Leo Strauss, so appreciated this brief introduction – and even more so, your skillful application of the hero’s journey to the Philosopher’s quest.

And, of course, the meaning of “meaning” is difficult to nail down:

What is the ‘meaning’ of a tree? Of a flower? Of a butterfly? Of the birth of a child? Or of the universe? What is the ‘meaning’ of a rushing stream? Such wonders simply are. They are antecedent to meaning, though ‘meanings’ may be read into them. . . .” (Joseph Campbell, Flight of the Wild Gander, p. xii)

Meaning would seem a function of the mind (indeed, the etymology of the term can be traced back to the Indo-European base *men – “think” – source  of memory, mention, mind, etc.). We bring the meaning to life (or rather, project meaning into it).

Your two-pronged approach, looking at meaning as a feeling-based experience (meaningfulness), and as a big-picture worldview, and then drawing a correlation between these two takes, works well.

I’m curious – have you received any feedback from readers?