Philosophy Bites has posted an interview with Susan Wolf on meaning in life.
According to Wolf, meaning in life has the following properties:
- It is distinct from the meaning of life.
- It is but one aspect of the good life.
- It is distinct from happiness or morality.
- It has both a subjective and an objective component.
The last point is especially weak. Wolf tries to distinguish her definition of meaning in life from that of the existentialists. A life that is only subjectively meaningful but not objectively meaningful can be said to be authentic but not meaningful. However, she doesn't succeed at describing the criteria by which a life can be judged to be objectively meaningful. For example, she says that a life engaged in solving Sudoku puzzles is objectively less meaningful than one engaged in competitive sport.
Wolf does, however, describe some plausible features of a meaningful life. First, it is characterized by excellence. Second, it has a social or communal aspect to it. These are two features that are useful for me to keep in mind as I pursue a more meaningful job (let alone life).