The Search for Meaning in the Modern World

Kass bookcover

JMC Director of Stewardship Yael Levin Hungerford reviews JMC fellow Leon Kass’ book, Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times in the City Journal


Map for Modern Life

Philosopher Leon Kass’s new essay collection offers lessons that run against the spirit of our age.

By Yael Levin Hungerford
From the City Journal

Much of American culture today causes right-thinking people to despair, from the degradation of political discourse and higher education to the hookup culture and the decades-long decline in marriage and fertility rates. And on the horizon, looming advances in artificial intelligence threaten to transform our world in ways that we cannot yet imagine.

In Leading a Worthy Life, the renowned bioethicist and teacher Leon Kass responds not with despair but with hope. Yes, ours is an age of skepticism, both religious and cultural—and of distraction and directionless busy-ness, too. But Kass points out that the fundamental desire to live meaningfully persists. He presents wisdom intended to redirect individuals to the goods that most fully furnish a meaningful life: marriage, children, and friendship; vocation; service to country and community; and the pursuit of understanding. Our culture’s current weakness might offer an opportunity to reexamine these components of a worthwhile life; after all, it was during a time of civic and cultural crisis that Socrates instructed Athenian youth about the examined life.

>>Continue reading at the City Journal website.


Yael Levin HungerfordYael Levin Hungerford recently received her Ph.D. in political theory from Boston College, where she studied the great texts and thinkers of the Western tradition and perennial human questions. Her dissertation, on the political thought of the American philosopher Charles S. Peirce, examines Peirce’s practical conservatism and his teaching about the nature and purpose of a proper liberal arts education in a modern republic. She has previously worked in a variety of capacities for the Tikvah Fund and the American Enterprise Institute, and holds an A.B. in philosophy from the University of Chicago.

>>Learn more about Dr. Yael Levin Hungerford.


Facebook iconTwitter iconFollow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates about lectures, publications, podcasts, and events related to American political thought, United States history, and the Western tradition!



Want to help the Jack Miller Center transform higher education? Donate today.