the roles of meaning in (later) life
Since most people would prefer eventually to enjoy an old age in which they could flourish, it is of pressing concern how older people, often in conjunction with other generations, create meaning in their lives. The issues involved are partly political: when societies discourage the expectation that meaning can be found in later life, it becomes harder for older individuals themselves to find meaning in their lives, or to present themselves as having a right to opinions, feelings and projects. This is an acute form of social exclusion - but exploring it is not straightforward. Using examples from the author’s experience in Ireland, the UK, Germany, Austria and the US, the introduction shows how meaning in later life needs to be interrogated by methods that are not all univocal, nor based on isolated individual data, but span a number of disciplines and interests, including ethics and the study of wisdom.
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