The Good Life HW Chapter 3: pp. 85-105
From last class… • Alternative “HONEST” business practices. • Bularky as a product (neither honest nor dishonest). • Future of Business as “Chess” or “open-hand Poker”
…to this class • The good life should be planned (Solomon) • The plan should involve developing a skill for goodness (Aristotle) • Goodness is relative to one’s career: one should know whether they want to make their career meaningful (Bee not Grasshopper). (Ciulla) • The good life must include developing one’s intellect. (Epicurus) • The good life is affected by one’s environment, namely that it allow for inventiveness and charity (Carnegie) • Greed is not a characteristic of a good life (Shimmel)
Who are you? • What answer do you give when people ask, “Who are you?”
Who are you? • What answer do you give when people ask, “Who are you?” I am a ________________________ (career/vocation/profession) Our identity (who we are) is our profession (what we do).
Robert C. Solomon: Strategic Planning—For the Good Life “A plan for the good life means, first of all, knowing your needs, your ideals and aspirations as a human being. (88)” “If one can set one’s sights on a promotion by the end of the first year, why not set a goal of a friendship for that period, too? (88)”
Robert C. Solomon: Strategic Planning—For the Good Life • What is most important to you? • What is most enjoyable to you? • What people do you like? • Who do you want to be? • How much leisure is good for you? • What limits do you have? • Are you critically reflective? • Whom is your god? • How much money do you need? • Your one-year plan is...? • Your five-year plan is…? • What is your hoped for legacy? Who do you want to be like? How will you be that person?
Robert C. Solomon: Strategic Planning—For the Good Life • Who do you want to be like? • How will you be that person? While even Solomon admits that one cannot entirely plan a “good” life, it seems possible that one can avoid bad planning with a hypothetical plan.
Robert C. Solomon: Strategic Planning—For the Good Life • Who do you want to be like? • How will you be that person? • To have a good life, one map out a journey. • To map out a journey, one must have a destination. • Hence to have a good life, one must know what a good life is. Possible Objection: Maybe the journey of life just IS the destination. New evidence from Alzeimer’s patients suggests that family can still identify the “soul” of their relative, not with their memories or knowledge, but with their ethical disposition. This suggests that identity (who we are) is based on our values and attitude, not our thoughts, beliefs or even actions.
Aristotle—On the Good Life “Men lead…three prominent types of life—[the vulgar], the political, and the contemplative.” “The good seems different in different actions and arts: it is different in medicine, in strategy, and in the other arts likewise. What then is the good of each? (…) In medicine it is health, in strategy victory, in architecture a house, in any other sphere something else, and in every action and choice the end; for it is for the sake of this that all men do whatever else they do.”
Aristotle—On the Good Life • If something is by nature X, habituation cannot make it Y. • Habituation affects one’s good. (“A state [of character] arises from [the repetition of] similar activities.”) • So, good is not naturally given. SUM: Each habit has its own good or ‘character.’ “Every craft and every investigation, and likewise every action and decision, seems to aim at some good; hence the good has been well described as that at which everything aims.”
Aristotle—On the Good Life Problem: The good seems relative to one’s vocation, but must also be something intrinsic to one’s way of being, which is not relative at all. • Either the good is relative or absolute. • If it is relative then there is no one good which makes one’s individual way of being good. • If absolute, then there is only one good and no way individual way to be good. • So, either there is no way for one’s individual way of being good or only one individual way to be good. “As far as its name goes, most people virtually agree [about what the good is], since both the many and the cultivated call it happiness, and suppose that living well and doing well are the same as being happy. But they disagree about what happiness is, and the many do not give the same answer as the wise.”
Aristotle—On the Good Life • If something is by nature X, we first have a capacity for X and second the activity of X. • Good is first activity and second a capacity. • So, Good is something we do that we find natural to us. What could be unique to humanity??? REASON! We have found, then, that the human function is the soul’s activity that expresses reason or requires reason.”
Problem: Isn’t Good “activity”? Aristotle—On the Good Life • To act virtuously, one must know what virtue is. • To know what virtue is, one must act virtuously. • So, one can neither act virtuously nor know virtue. Problem with (1): One can rely on luck or by following instructions or imitating another. (craft analogy) • Response for (1): Crafts, though coming about by these methods, cannot illustrate virtuous actions which require MORE than the end product of an action. Virtues also require being “in the right state” when acted on. (31) • “In the right state,” means: • “First, he must know that he is doing virtous actions; second, he must decide on them, and decide on them for themselves; and third, he must also do them from a firm and unchanging state.” Second Problem with (1): Knowing the virtuous action counts for very little as virtue requires a virtuous person, one who does virtuous acts in a virtuous way.
How does one learn to be good? Aristotle—On the Good Life “Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit…From this it is also plain that none of the moral excellences arises in us by nature: for nothing exists by nature can form a habit contrary to its nature.” “Neither by nature, then, nor contrary to nature do excellences arise in us; rather we are adapted by nature to receive them, and are made perfect by habit.” “A state of character arises from the repetition of similar activities. (1103b22)
Aristotle—On the Good Life Summary The good is relative to satisfying one’s relative vocational duties with excellence. Excellence is “a disposition toward avoidance of excess and deficiency” and towards a character of moderation that is actuated in activity.
Joanne B. Ciulla: Work and Life • Ant vs. Grasshopper vs. Bee “The bee symbolizes a life of useful and rewarding work, the ant represents a life of work and security, while the grasshopper depicts a frivolous life of play and uncertainty. (95).” Ant = Technician Grasshopper = Child Bee = Entrepreneur
Joanne B. Ciulla: Work and Life WHY DO WE CHOOSE A CAREER? (four variables) • For Meaningfulness (Amnesty International) • For Leisure (Resort Waiter) • For Money (Tax Accountant) • For Security (Civil Service Job)
Joanne B. Ciulla: Work and Life Are some variables unjustified? Yes! Work cannot be primarily for making money, right? After all, money is just a means for security, leisure, and meaningful activities. No! work CAN just be for money if you view work “instrumentally.” In other words, work would not define you if you worked for money. Counterexample (?) Trump (?)
Epicurus: On Pleasure • The fundamental duty of humanity is to avoid fear and pain. • The greatest source of fear and pain is the unknown future. • Knowledge is the greatest source from predicting the future and making it known. • Hence, acquiring knowledge is the fundamental duty of humanity. “The right understanding of these facts enables us ot refer all choice and avoidance to the health of the body and the soul’s freedom from disturbance, since this is the aim of the life of blessedness. (98)
Epicurus: On Pleasure Premise 2: The greatest source of fear and pain is the unknown future. The businessperson can object! No! Lack of money is the greatest source of fear and pain.
Epicurus: On Pleasure Premise 2: The greatest source of fear and pain is the unknown future. The businessperson can object! No! Lack of money is the greatest source of fear and pain. Response: Why is “money” thought to save one from fear and pain?!!
Carnegie on Wealth One measure of a successful civilization is inequality: “The contrast between the palace of the millionaire and the cottage of the laborer with us to-day measures the change which has come with civilization.”
Carnegie on Wealth • The “law of competition” states that those who ‘win’ should be allowed to keep their winnings and vice versa. • Civilizations encourage “material development” (invention) insofar as they support the law of competition. • Successful civilizations have much material development. • Material development entails income inequality. • One measure of a successful civilization is inequality.
Carnegie on Wealth Income inequality is an INDIRECT measure of a successful civilization, as it DIRECTLY measures material development. SO, it is not good to have income inequality but it is rather the natural consequence of material development. In fact, income equality is bad. Hence, those who possess greater amounts of material wealth should self-impose charitable distribution of their wealth to those who have the means for creating material development.
Solomon Schimmel on Greed • Western society is “greedy.” “Our constitution guarantees the freedom to pursue happiness and our capitalist ethos simplistically equates freedom with lack of restraint and happiness with wealth.” (103) • Greed is a quality of a poorly lived life. (Vacation example) • Hence, western society perpetuates poorly lived lives.
Solomon Schimmel on Greed • Western society is “greedy.” “Our constitution guarantees the freedom to pursue happiness and our capitalist ethos simplistically equates freedom with lack of restraint and happiness with wealth.” (103) • Greed is a quality of a poorly lived life. (Vacation example) • Hence, western society perpetuates poorly lived lives. OBJECTIONS?