An Inquiry into What It Might Mean for a Human Life to Matter

What might it mean for a human life to matter; and how might one come to believe that they matter? These questions animate our research on existential mattering which consists in the felt, or phenomenological sense, of one’s intrinsic value. We refer to this manifestation of mattering as benign or altruistic. In contrast to these positive forms, we hypothesize the existence of a malignant form that we refer to as malevolent or dark mattering, which is grounded in various forms of prejudice. Here we explore the implications of these various forms of mattering for young people’s social, behavioral, and mental health.

  • Michael Penn

    Dr. Michael Penn is a Clinical Psychologist and Professor of Psychology at Franklin & Marshall College. His research interests and publications explore the application of psychological research & theory to culture and human rights, as well as the development of hope and hopelessness in adolescents.


47th Annual Conference


The views expressed in this recording are those of the presenter and do not necessarily represent the views of the Association for Bahá’í Studies, nor the authoritative explications of Bahá’í writings.