What does it mean to be

Let's find out
My name is Stefani Ruper, and I’m an Oxford PhD candidate in philosophy, religion, and science. I began having panic attacks about dying—and also about meaninglessness, who are we as a species, and how to make the world a better place—when I was four years old. I’ve been looking for answers ever since. In some cases, I think I’ve found them.
Stefani Ruper

29x: The Big Myth About Social Media

Here’s the notes for episode #29x of The Meaning of Everything show. It is commonly assumed that social media creates echo chambers, which play a role in making us more polarized and entrenched in our own viewpoints. But today Stefani challenges this assumption, and...

Does the Internet Make Life Worse? with Chris Burr

Here’s the notes for episode #29 of The Meaning of Everything show. What are the impacts of technology on our health, wellness, and efforts to live a good life? Stefani chats with philosopher of cognition and technology Chris Burr to probe the depths of our...

#28x: Philosophy Has Died: Who Killed It?

Here’s the notes for episode #28x of The Meaning of Everything show. Philosophy was once the source of our world’s best solace. It was the source of our best advice, our best systems of meaning and beauty, and our best inspirations. Today it is an academic discipline...

The Age of Uncertainty
We live in an age of abundant knowledge. More than 50 million scientific articles have been published since 1665, and today, on average, over 6,800 scientific articles are published every dayWe know vastly more about the universe than our ancestors could have ever imagined, from the quantum properties of quarks to the crystalline structure of moon rocks. But this knowledge comes at a great price. The more our culture advances philosophically and scientifically—so, the more we know about stuff—the less knowledge we have about the kinds of things that matter most—about right and wrong, about the meaning of life, about who we are and how to make sense of existence. The result is a culture plagued by subconscious feelings of insecurity, stress, despair, and anxiety, which often manifest as defensiveness, shallowness, egotism, and fundamentalism—some of the most pressing problems of the modern world. As it turns out, the age old adage “the more we know, the more we know we don’t know” is absolutely true, and it may be silently killing us.
The book is currently being written alongside several articles, podcast episodes, and the final chapters of a dissertation. It will likely be published in 2020. Many excerpts and related philosophical ramblings will be published on this website as they are completed. You can find those under the tag “Age of Uncertainty.”
Have you ever wondered why people today are always so angry, so afraid, so anxious?  While there are various answers to these questions—and many of them very important—in this book I argue that a key component to these problems is the amount of what I call existential ambiguity we are forced to live with every day. Modern humans in the West have to live with the greatest amount of uncertainty—and specifically uncertainty about life’s biggest, most pressing questions, such as what is a good life? How do we be moral? Is there a soul? Does God exist? What happens when we die?—that has ever existed in the history of the human race. This has enormous consequences for the ways in which we feel, live, and relate to one another. This book shows us exactly why and how we ended up in this situation, and what needs to be done about it.
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Why Certain Truth Needs to Die

Last week I was tagged several times in the comment section of a Facebook post I didn’t remember liking. Puzzled, I scrolled through the comments and realized that people were repeatedly tagging me in order to demand justification for why I had liked the post. A woman...

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Science Doesn’t Have Faith, but it Does Have Salvation

In the debate between science and religion, religious adherents and sympathizers often say that science has a faith of its own. The religious physicist Paul Davies says for example that “you [have] to have faith that the universe is governed by dependable, immutable,...

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The most important choice you can make in life is to never give up. Never give up on you, and never give up on the world. Bravery is the secret to a wondrous life.