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?
Taylor on the meaning of life What is the good life?
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 If we ardently desire the lives that we have, then the lives that we have are subjectively meaningful
TAYLOR’S ASSESSMENT I want to keep pushing! OBJECTIVELY MEANINGLESS BUT SUBJECTIVELY MEANINGFUL
My life is objectively meaningless? What, me worry?
Taylor says-- • Objectively meaningful = significant and lasting result • Our lives are not objectively meaningful • But they ARE subjectively meaningful • And that’s good enough Do you agree with 1, 2, 3, and 4?
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?
The Tree of the Good Life Hedonism Objective List View Desire View Aristotle Cultural Relativism Extreme Relativism Inflexible One-size-fits-all Flexible Relativism Absolutism
Decisions, decisions... 1. same value choices 2. different value choices 3. morality/other value choices Chapters 7-8