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On the Meaning of Life

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,693 ratings  ·  317 reviews
In the Fall of 1930 Will Durant found himself outside his home in Lake Hill, New York, raking leaves. He was approached by a well-dressed man who told him in a quiet tone that he was going to kill himself unless the philosopher could give him a valid reason not to. Not having the time to wax philosophic on the matter, Durant did his best to furnish the man with reasons to ...more
Paperback, 116 pages
Published March 15th 2005 by Promethean Press (first published March 1st 2005)
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 ·  1,693 ratings  ·  317 reviews

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Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
an intellectual book it was, but I didn't get the answer at the end ...more
Helen. A.H
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I highly recommend it to everyone who is interested in title and who deals with existential crisis! this book will take you through the greatest minds of early 20th century, it is really worth reading!
Durant receives a letter from an unknown person who felt suicidal and asks Durant about the meaning of life if there is any, so that he can keep living and cease his suicidal thoughts and overcome the desire which lead him to death!
Therefore, Durant writes the same letter about the meaning of life
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris Fitzgerald
Mar 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A book that in anyone else's hands could have been preposterous, Durant's gentle understanding of life's hardships and the problems all human beings face somehow turn a dark and serious topic into an inspirational message of hope and a celebration of the human spirit. In the process, the reader gets to hear some of the greatest minds of his time weigh in on the subject, bookended by a rather sinister introduction and an uplifting conclusion, and seasoned by Durant's running commentary that is ab ...more
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Though our facts seem depressing, our conclusions need not be.
Esmaeil Khalili
Dec 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Well, this was very amazing; In fact 3 times I've passionately read it so far! Not for being too complicated but for I've been interested to find more.
Late Will Durant never claimed to be a sociologist*, nor, as far as I know, any other person has claimed yet this book as a sociological approach to understanding literature, but I may find this book as a very good source both as an icon in sociological -also psychological- attempts to re-understanding modern literature, and to understand some in-
Apr 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Found the actual letters fairly uninspiring. Will Durant's writing, on the other hand, particularly the introduction, is a great pleasure to read - so I will check out his other books. ...more
Amir Seyab
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
excellent book that teach me the meaning of life.
Ubaid Talpur
Jun 05, 2014 rated it liked it
good book, we may say it was written by many well known people, but the question is still unanswered question :-(
Jun 19, 2015 added it
This book brought me to tears several times and it ends on an optimistic note. I will reread this book many times.
Joshua Guest
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A man once walked up to Will Durant (or at least the author so asserts) and told him that he was going to kill himself unless the author gave him a satisfactory reason as to why he shouldn't. He didn't have an answer right there on the spot. And so he sought answers from his contemporaries. I love the concept: Will Durant considers the question whether life has any meaning at all in light of the fact that biology, astronomy, psychology and philosophy all tend to the conclusion that it doesn't. T ...more
Amir Salar Pourhasan
Sep 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
As you know, Will Durant sent almost 100 letters to most famous or remarkable people in his generation and asks them about "The meaning of the life" in their opinion. Then started to write a book out of the responses. He find this idea since someone sent him a letter and asks Durant "I want to kill myself. Give me a reason to not do that."

The idea is what I like the most about this book. In the other hand you see some big name in it such as Gandhi or Russell which surprisingly sent back very poo
D Franklin Pack
Aug 19, 2021 rated it did not like it
I purchased this book, released in 1932 by Will Durant and edited by John Little in 2005, so that I could have the actual reference to what Adolph S. Ochs had to say about the meaning of life. Unfortunately, of the thirty-something contributors to the book, Mr. Ochs was just one of a few who seemed to be sincere in their response to a letter Mr. Durant had sent to over a hundred people asking for their thoughts on the meaning of life. Most of the responses printed in the book seemed to be writte ...more
Bill Roth
Dec 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ghulam Fareed Wattoo
Apr 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
As the title suggests, the book deals with life and its meaning. The author raises the most common yet the most difficult question. The author asks his well-versed peers about the meaning of life that they have fathomed till now. Each of them writes back with other logics and expectations. They try to deal with that complicated question in their way.
One may find the meaning through this book. But the thing which I have understood from this book is life has a different meaning for everyone. Some
John Kirkwood
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The wisdom of man is foolishness to God.

A most articulate defense of the God is dead movement, not as rich as Ecclesiastes but extremely enlightening if not entertaining. A CAT-scan on the humanist mind and a roadmap of his blind spots, the only hope which is offered is to make yourself so busy in futile work and "itching" that you blunt the conclusions of Camus and Sartre which haunt the intellectual. To live in Durant's world is to empty one's self of the truth which has demonstrated in every
Henrik Haapala
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
”I do not know to what great end Destiny leads us, nor do I care very much. Long before that end, I shall have played my part, spoken my lines, and passed on. How I play that part is all that concerns me. In the knowledge that I am an inalienable part of this great, wonderful, upward movement called life, and that nothing, neither pestilence, nor physical affliction, nor depression - nor prison - can take away from me my part, lies my consolation, my inspiration, and my treasure.” 87-88 /Owen C. ...more
Parham Hasani
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In one word: treasure by Will Durant.
What is the meaning of life? A question as old as Time, stranger than love, more afraid than lonely. A simple question asked with great minds, philosophers, farmers, pensioners, soldiers, mothers, in happiness, in sadness.
In this book, Will Durant man who had a 7 decades journey in pages of history and philosophy, wonders again.
He wrote letters to more than 100 famous people in 1930. ask them to write an answer. Awesome Answers are collected in the book.
Jesse Wormington
Many perspectives, all walks of life considered

This book is a collection of responses to a question the author sent out to all the influential people of his age. Ghandi even responded in this book. The author asks what they think the meaning of life is and where, in their darkest moment, does their treasure lie. Really beautiful. I'd say it gives a correct analysis to the "meaning of life." Worth the read!
Jun 03, 2022 rated it really liked it
Although some of the answers are "meaningless," being exposed to different reasonings about the meaning of life is eye-opening.

It is hard to be atheist and/or nihilist (existential nihilism), but hopefully some of the answers and Will Durant's thoughts can give you some good reasons.

Will Durant mentions joy as the simplest meaning of life. Next, he points to love as another meaning of life.
He says "To give life a meaning one must have a purpose larger than one's self, and more enduring than one'
Ehsan Gazar
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Challenging question about life, and why haven't we finished it yet,
I'd like to read all different views about life's meaning and how some people ignore it and some others have some meanings for themselves.
Mark Clackum
The summary seems to be:
You will feel your life has meaning proportionate to the contributions you make to the people & causes you care about most. Only leisurely people tend to despair...Philosophy is a placebo; good work is the most potent antidote.
Roy Corry
Sep 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
I loved the original approach of this book. He asked most of the intellectual heavyweights of his time what they thought about the title. In the end, and especially when it comes to the author's viewpoint, I was left a little unsatisfied. ...more
Javad Siavashi
Nov 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This one doesn't really answer your questions on the meaning of life, but it really does show you how vast is the different ways that people make sense of life. Helps you wonder about the question yourself... ...more
Saki Georgiadis
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid contribution...

...to an overpopulated field. Durant approached it in a unique way, sharing with us the thoughts of some of the greatest minds of his time.
Alireza Saebi
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general
it's wonderful material to think about the meaning of life ...more
Richard Kemp
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book manages to address the topic just as well as any other does (that is, inconclusively), but is particularly recommendable because it is entertaining and fairly short.
Ahmed Farrag
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a gem. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I spent reading this little book. I Would have recommended it to all the pessimists I knew of, if only I did know of any but myself.
Reza Baktash
Jan 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Many scientific references on which his conclusions rely, are now more developed or outdated. But the main question is always valid and the book still has a lot to say.
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Meaning of life 1 8 Jul 05, 2013 03:35AM  

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William James Durant was a prolific American writer, historian, and philosopher. He is best known for the 11-volume The Story of Civilization, written in collaboration with his wife Ariel and published between 1935 and 1975. He was earlier noted for his book, The Story of Philosophy, written in 1926, which was considered "a groundbreaking work that helped to popularize philosophy."

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