Searching for the ultimate meaning of life? Join the club

Unthinkable: Men may be more susceptible to imagining there’s an instruction manual to be found

Seeing human life as part of a cosmological grand plan  is not the most far-fetched idea. Photograph: Getty Images

Seeing human life as part of a cosmological grand plan is not the most far-fetched idea. Photograph: Getty Images

Is there a certain age when men in particular start agonising over the ultimate meaning of life? For Leo Tolstoy the crisis came aged 50, when the novelist suddenly asked himself, “Why should I do anything?”

Friedrich Nietzsche hit the peak of his existential inquiries in his early 40s, and although the contemporary psychologist Jordan Peterson started his magnum opus Maps of Meaning in his late 30s, he spent 13 years working on it and followed it up with a bestselling book broadly on the same topic.

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