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In the Pursuit of Happiness or of Meaning? Socrates, Kohelet and Victor Frankel on the Meaning of Life

Hosted By: Orange County Community Scholar Program (CSP)

It is at times of great rupture or great joy that we are often faced with the fragility of life. And when faced with our mortality and transience of our time on earth we will frequently inquire of its meaning. Once a year on the festival of Sukkot we are forced into conditions of fragility and transience. Moving outside our homes to a temporary structure and remembering our journey in the wilderness conditions us towards asking questions of meaning. Two common responses to these existential questions are hedonism or the creation of meaning. Judaism entertains them both. Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) read on Sukkot is a musing on these responses – everything is vanity, drink be merry for tomorrow we will die. In other places meaning is created through shared narrative, law, order and belief in God. Utilising ancient philosophy, modern psychology and the wisdom of our tradition and its text, you’ll unpack the question of meaning in your modern life and show how the Bible and its customs already anticipated this human challenge many centuries earlier.

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