Simon Glendinning / Edward Skidelsky
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‘Unless we are Marxists, we are more resistant [today] than the eighteenth- or nineteenth-centuries knew how to be [to] attempts to locate the meaning of human life or human history in mystical or metaphysical conceptions-in the emancipation of mankind, or progress, or the onward advance of Absolute Spirit. It is not that we have lost interest in emancipation or progress themselves. But whether temporarily or permanently, we have more or less abandoned the idea that the importance of emancipation or progress (or a correct conception of spiritual advance) is that these are marks by which our minute speck in the universe can distinguish itself as the spiritual focus of the cosmos.‘
David Wiggins (‘Truth, Invention and the Meaning of Life’ in Needs, Values, Truth, Oxford: Blackwell)
Appreciation of the contemporary secularity of the West goes hand in hand with comparisons which contrast it with a life lived naively within a theistic construal. In contemporary Western societies a theistic construal is no longer the default position. Our thinking and believing has its societal default in a world-picture that does not have the general belief in God and a Divine Purpose at its centre. The worry is that this leaves us leaving lives with no sense of purpose at all. In this dialogue, Edward Skidelsky and Simon Glendinning examine the resources left for us to affirm a meaning or value to our lives in modern or postmodern times.
Reader in European Philosophy, LSE and Director of the Forum for European Philosophy
Lecturer, University of Exeter
Recorded on 18 January 2010 at the LSE