“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”
These are the profound words from Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankel, who found meaning and purpose in his captivity and suffering at Auschwitz. Moving into our individual and collective futures, we will certainly face some suffering, as well as joys and successes. According to Frankel, finding meaning in all life’s experiences is a reflective exercise, and finding purpose is forward looking and intentional. Frankel counsels us to develop these approaches as we embark on this thing called “life.” Professor Gary Watson will explore with students these questions of meaning and purpose in our lives, as we reflect on our past and anticipate our future.
Gary Watson, Provost Professor of Philosophy and Law, holds a joint appointment in USC’s Gould School of Law and Dornsife College. He has taught courses on political philosophy, philosophical issues in race and gender, and Nietzsche. Professor Watson is considered one of the country’s leading philosophers, whose writings have shaped our understanding of the nature of human agency, moral and legal responsibility, freedom of action, and freedom of the will. His interest in concepts of legal responsibility, target the relations between moral and criminal responsibility and the criminal law’s conceptions of moral agency. Professor Watson earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University.