Western Philosophy

Essay by m0rr0w80College, UndergraduateA+, November 2011

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Humanities I

WA 4

The question addressing the meaning of life in Western philosophy has been explained and rationalized in two distinguishable and overlapping sets of characteristics. The way of the hero is depicted as a direct confrontation with the question of meaning, where the hero seeks to establish and sustain individual as well as communal meaning. The hero generally emphasizes action, strength and courage that were symbolized by ancient Greek and Roman warriors. The way of the saint in contrast, is an inward journey that emphasizes contemplation as well as submission and obedience. The saint becomes a vessel that propagates divine word in order to attain meaning for the individual and the community (Ambrosio, 2009). Hebrew prophet kings and priests including Abraham and Jesus have symbolized the way of the saint.

Saintly troubadours as depicted by St Francis and Dante had a profound influence on philosophy and are the foundation of modern concepts of romantic love.

The courtly poems although filled with romantic imagery were based on relevant philosophical concepts that described the role of the individual and the meaning of life. They portrayed a path that encouraged reverence for nature, non-violence and involved spiritually idealizing women. The love of the idealized woman transformed individuals because she was within sight but just out of reach thus serving as a beacon. The individual plays an active role in pursuit of his idealized lady and had to prove his worth by facing obstacles with perseverance and humility so that he is ultimately united with the divinity embodied in the woman.

During the Renaissance, Michelangelo used his visionary artistic powers to portray the individual's struggle to find the meaning of life and death. He represented the attempt to integrate saintly passion that is apparent in his power of art with his...