The paper will argue that the vocation of philosophy is to enable human beings to understand their real conditions of life. The most important condition of life which philosophy tries to comprehend is the inescapable fact that it will end. For many people, the reality of death is a cause of despair. The life we do have on earth seems worthless unless it can be redeemed in some sort of eternal afterlife. I will contend instead that a life lived without any expectation of an eternal afterlife can still be a life rich in meaning and value, for self and others. Consciousness of the finitude of life is powerful motivation to live it well, not selfishly, but in ways that are both rewarding for the self and valuable to the lives of others with whom our lives are necessarily linked.
A reception will follow the talk.