By Abby Anderko
Hosted by the McLean Center for the Study of Culture and Values, the lecture on “The Meaningfulness of Life” follows the same theme for the international research project that was the topic of the 2019 Annual Seminar, “inaugurating a five-year project with the central theme being the meaningfulness of life.” This is a program that occurs both locally and internationally. Historically, The Center has been involved in many different pressing issues and research, but today its focus is pointed more towards “research competencies in the humanities and to provide focus and implementation for this new global situation.”
The lecture, given by Catholic University School of Theology and Religious Studies professor, Dr. Bill Barbieri, focused on the relationship between the individual and their environment. The relationship creates a purpose in an individual’s life that does not solely apply to the individual themselves— how meaningfulness are the actions that drive a person throughout their life.
Barbieri spoke on the themes and main points of meaningfulness in different individuals, communities and even cultures and the importance of interpretation. Interpretation of language or text and finding their meaning or symbolic nature in other people and cultures as well as ourselves is a strong aspect of finding the meaningfulness of life.
“[There is] only so much we can learn about the meaningfulness of life on our own,” Barbieri said. “The concepts, the traditions, that have refined the concept of the meaningfulness of life is a communal aspect. [We] can learn more and understand better if we talk with others.”
The word ‘meaningfulness’ does not fully translate from English to other languages,making it difficult to voice the concern about an individual’s purpose and relationship with the rest of the world, transcending just having meaning in life. Barbieri states that meaningfulness and the meaning of life are separate entities, but due to the miscommunication, every human being is challenged to communicate with other societies about meaningfulness in people’s lives. Both the existential view, of thinking about life and the actionable views, on the meaningfulness of life gmake it necessary as a human being to participate in an “individual life or the act and participating in “an individual life, or the act of living.”
“We live in a global world that we could that we could learn from others religions, ideologies, rituals, etc..” Barbieri said, “[We] have to interact with the world. Expose people to stories [and] avenues to the lives of other people different than one’s own or similar to one’s own.”
The next lecture will be given on February 13th by Bill D’Antonio, Professor of Sociology, on “The Academic as Activist.”
The lecture was held in Gibbons Hall on Wednesday, January 30th.