Necessities Jean Kazez Southern Methodist University
I want to live a good lifeI want to live a meaningful lifesame thing?
Very roughly... A good life... ...has value A meaningful life... ...adds up to something What more can we say?
The Myth of Sisyphus The gods punished Sisyphus for stealing their secrets by forcing him to push a giant boulder up a hill forever. Over and over again it rolled back down, and he was forced to start all over again.
Taylor says... This is objectively meaningless...
Why objectively meaningless? Taylor’s definition: a meaningful activity/life has some significant and lasting result.
The Myth of Sisyphus (Taylor’s revision) ... and then the gods took pity on Sisyphus, and injected a drug into his veins so that he would enjoy his endless labors.
TAYLOR’S ASSESSMENT I want to keep pushing! OBJECTIVELY MEANINGLESS BUT SUBJECTIVELY MEANINGFUL
What does any of this have to do with our lives?
(1) Objective meaninglessness... • the ugly worms, p. 23 • migrating birds, p. 24 • busy street, p. 24 • country road, p. 25
Can objective meaninglessnessbe avoided? (p. 25) • heaven (think Tolstoy) • Platonic forms • earthly ideals such as universal justice and brotherhood (compare Singer)
(2) Subjective Meaningfulness • “our deep interest in what we find ourselves doing” (p. 25-6) • back to the ruined house— “the day was sufficient unto itself” (p. 27) • this should remind you of Frankfurt’s “care theory” of the good life
Taylor’s Conclusion We should be satisfied with living lives that are (1) objectively meaningless (2) subjectively meaningful Last two paragraphs (p. 27-8)
My life is objectively meaningless? What, me worry? I LOVE LIFE!
What do you think? • Is life really objectively meaningless? • Does Taylor define “meaningful” correctly? • Is it “enough” for life to be subjectively meaningful? • What about Singer’s claim that an ethical life is particularly meaningful?
The Good Life The Meaningful life
IS THIS A GOOD LIFE? I want to keep pushing!
THE DESIRE VIEWOF THE GOOD LIFE • A good life contains lots of good • Good = desire fulfillment (3) Sisyphus has lots of fulfilled desire (C) Sisyphus has a good life
Desires implanted by the gods • Desires implanted by advertising • Desires manipulated by bad people • Desires that are adaptive— “I want it because it’s easier if I just adapt”
revise revise revise
The Tree of (the Good) Life Simple Happiness View Objective List View Desire View Aristotle Cultural Relativism Extreme Relativism Inflexible One-size-fits-all Flexible Relativism Absolutism
Objective list view* • ingredient • ingredient • ingredient • etc. • .... • .... • .... Items are on the list NOT because we desire them, and NOT because they make us happy, BUT because they are intrinsically good. Shafer-Landau calls it “The Objective View”
Recipe for a good life A-LIST necessities MUST HAVE ALL if one is missing, life is flawed B-LIST OPTIONAL INTErchangEable if one missing, life need not be flawed
Discovering the necessities books movies examples draw on other theories thought experiments avoid ethnocentrism
What must we change to make his life a good one? I want to keep pushing!
Autonomy I’M GOING TO BECOME A...
What is autonomy? • Being author of your own life • Controlling where you live, what work you do, how you do the work, what hours you work
What’s “enough”? • arranged marriage (of adults, of children) • Did Galileo’s daughter have enough? • Could a slave have enough?
Self MY OPINION IS... I LIKE...
Nowhere man-- “Doesn’t have a point of view, knows not where he’s going to” —The Beatles
Morality THOU SHALT NOT...
Why is it necessary? Why does adding morality to the life of Sisyphus make it a better life? • Morality as cure for profound isolation • Morality as cure for finitude
Happiness can come from • Helping orphans • Listening to music • Eating a lot of ice cream • Torturing kittens • Magic Drug DOES IT MATTER?
Happiness comes from good I’M FREE... AWESOME!
Constance Beethoven Land’s End fashions American Cancer Society Reads the bible Same from 21 to 81
Progress I NEED A CHANGE...
The List • Autonomy • Self • Morality • Happiness • Happiness from good sources • Progress • Other?