Desk Notes · Papers

A quality life? ‘Knowing what matters and if you achieved it’

Qualitative sciences are curious, sometimes. I found something written by Philip Kitcher in his book, The Lives to Come. Not saying that you should read the book, it wasn’t that interesting, but this part was very curious to me. I’ll paraphrase.

The author lists three ways, according to him, that one can evaluate if someone else’s life was ‘with quality’, or not. Why should we listen to him? I’m not sure. I’m not writing newspaper stories these days, just blogging what I wants o I will just say, ‘maybe you can decide if you think the below is interesting and take or leave it.’ I have had it kicking around in ‘draft’ here, for three years.

Let me just tell you these criteria, according to the author.

To paraphrase, they are:

    • Knowing what matters. This one is about discovering the journey towards what really counts, for you, personally. Here’s what the questions to ask are: ‘Did the person develop a sense of what is significant? How was the conception of what matters formed?’ I guess it’s important how you got to what counts just as much as it is to know what it is that you put on those blanks, in a list, of what matters.
    • Achieving what matters. Related to the last idea, of course, is how did you do with what you knew was important. ‘To what extent is the person’s desires to achieve what matters to her satisfied in a life plan? Did she get there?’ Big questions for sure. But important, right? Looking at what matters to you is fine, but actually taking steps (or having the desire to take steps, to go a step backwards from that), is pretty huge, according to this three-point criteria list.
    • Knowing if that arrival was any good. This part was about the levels of real experience the person got to have. I mean, we all have ups and downs, but feeling the feelings through when we do is pretty much what, I think, this is about. One could ask: ‘How did it feel, to achieve the goals set out as that which mattered to a person? What was the character of the person’s experience, the balance of pleasure and pain?’

MASSIVE QUESTIONS, to be sure. What do you think about the above? Would you agree or disagree with Kitcher’s three-point list of what makes for a quality life? Would you add something, and if so, what would it be? If you could eliminate something, what would you take away?

These are the kinds of things that we talk about, in ‘Papers‘.