Week 1: Introduction to the dimensions of meaning
What is the significance of meaning specific to the older adult? We will explore the concept of meaning as a multidimensional experience with the intention of broadening our understanding of meaning itself, particularly how it relates to happiness, contentment, and life satisfaction.
Week 2: Camus’s Myth of Sisyphus
Following a brief exploration of Paul Wong’s Contextual Mode, we will delve into a range of approaches to meaning, beginning with the Absurdist philosophy of Albert Camus and, paradoxically, the illumination of hope, commitment to life, and compassion that ensues.
Week 3: Ernest Becker’s Denial of Death
Shifting from a philosophical to a sociological perspective, Becker addresses the issue of the cultural denial of death arising from a collective anxiety and its implications for meaning. We will discover the meanings we impute to what Becker refers to our ‘immortality projects.’
Week 4: Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning
“. . . the deepest form of meaning accessible to an older person is the freedom to choose their response to the ultimate challenge, suffering and death.” So writes Frankl in his renowned reflection on the relationship between suffering and meaning. We will delve into Frankl’s discovery of meaning through the practices of the creative, experiential, and the attitudinal.
Week 5: Aristotelian virtue ethics
According to Robert Butler, Pulitzer prize pioneer in the field of gerontology, personal integrity, values, and character are primary psychological needs of the older adult and has a direct correlation to living a meaningful life. We will explore and analyze virtue ethics as a lens through which to consider what Aristotle defined as the precursor to wisdom.
Week 6: James Hollis’ depth psychology and fidelity to the Self
Hollis, meaning making and discovery is a function of becoming the whole of oneself, a fully conscious personality, of individuating from our archetypal impulses, and orienting to our authentic selves.