Why, in a world that is so wealthy, are we not able to lead more fulfilling lives?

Take-Home Final Examination
Meanings of Life Fall 2015

Please answer 5 of the following 6 questions:

1) Fromm asks, “Are we sane?” Easterbrook asks, “Why are we not happy?” Why, in a world that is so wealthy, are we not able to lead more fulfilling lives?

2) Ornstein and Elhrich write of how technology is evolving faster than our brains are; Wright discusses “the evolution of despair.” On the other hand, Kaku writes of the coming era when computers will be smarter than we are, and when gene manipulation will flourish. Combine their arguments in answering this question: Will the future solve the age-old problem of how human beings find meaning?

3) We read Calvin, Galileo, Condorcet, Huxley, and Freud. These readings show a broad pattern of the history of Western thought over the past 500 years, as it pertains to “The Meaning of Life.” Explain this pattern. Then discuss, using class readings, how this pattern might change in the future.

4) Socrates said that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Ernest Becker, on the other hand, writes of the new discoveries in human character that “there is no proof that this has anything to do with the progress of man [sic] on the planet; and if most people knew these things about themselves, it would probably throw whole nations into chaos.” Which view do you think is more correct? Explain–

5) If you could design a society with maximum potential for the attainment of happiness and life meaning, what would it look like? Be practical in your answer.

6) Would the world be a better place if we were all like Lei Feng? Discuss, using at least five of the readings we have done for this class.


Each question should be answered in two pages for undergraduates. Each answer should contain numerous quotations or citations from the class readings. Your paper should have a reference list; every work in your reference list should have been cited or quoted in your text. Your paper must be submitted through Veriguide, but also delivered in hard copy to the Dept. of Anthropology. This examination is due Dec. 14.

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