What is it about?

“What is the meaning of life?” is universally regarded as one of the big questions. Rather than try to provide some sort of answer to the question, in this paper I take the question itself along with related questions and behaviors as collectively a phenomenon in need of an explanation. That quest takes us to an examination of the widely-studied phenomenon known in early childhood and developmental psychology as promiscuous teleology, the tendency in young children to see purpose in virtually everything, including the pointiness of rocks. That examination then takes us to a yet deeper level of explanation, namely, the phenomenon known in evolutionary biology as neoteny, the evolution of juvenile characteristics into adulthood, a phenomenon that is now well understood in human evolution.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

It is hoped that understanding humans in this way will help to reduce and even eliminate in the reader the deep frustrations and anxieties that people often experience when trying to find meaning in their lives and ultimately the meaning of their lives.


As far as I know, this is the only paper that deals with the question "What is the meaning of life?" in this way.

David Stamos
Department of Philosophy, York University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Neoteny and the meaning of life., Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, October 2023, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/teo0000252.
You can read the full text:



The following have contributed to this page