Self-Love and Self-Respect in the Meaningful Life

Erica Stonestreet, College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University


Most people have the sense that there's something wrong with living a meaningless life. Since most meaningless lives seem morally blameless, however, it's not obvious exactly what is wrong with it. Starting with a plausible conception of a meaningful life as a life engaged with values beyond oneself, I suggest that the problem is that someone living outside of this conception is not according herself a kind of recognition she deserves as a human being. Comparing self-respect and self-love as candidates for this recognition, I argue that lacking self-love is actually the more fitting explanation for what goes wrong in a meaningless life.