Joynewyeary

Determining whether or not a life was flourishing.

9 posts in this topic

It occurs to me that it might be helpful to consider the person's goals and to ask the following questions:

1. Were the goals achieved?

2. Were the goals trivial or significant?

3. Were the goals benevolent, malevolent, or neutral?

For example, consider Stalin. It seems that he did achieve some of his goals and that some of those goals were significant. However, his goals were also malevolent. On that basis, we may conclude that Stalin did not live a flourishing life.

Now, the problem is that the living of a flourishing life is supposed to be the standard of value. We should not rely on judgments about ethics to determine whether or not someone lived a flourishing life.

There should be something like a yardstick for measuring whether or not a particular person lived a flourishing life. If an object is longer than one yard long, then all careful observers who are equipped with a yardstick can agree that it is longer than a yard long. They might have quite different ideas about right and wrong, but their measurements of the length of a particular object will -- within a small margin of error -- be the same.

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There should be something like a yardstick for measuring whether or not a particular person lived a flourishing life. If an object is longer than one yard long, then all careful observers who are equipped with a yardstick can agree that it is longer than a yard long. They might have quite different ideas about right and wrong, but their measurements of the length of a particular object will -- within a small margin of error -- be the same.

I can understand why a person needs to know if his own life is as good as it can be, but why would someone want to, or need to, know if another person lived a flourishing life?

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I can understand why a person needs to know if his own life is as good as it can be, but why would someone want to, or need to, know if another person lived a flourishing life?
Is the question here why would one want or need to morally judge a person after that person is dead?

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---------

Now, the problem is that the living of a flourishing life is supposed to be the standard of value. We should not rely on judgments about ethics to determine whether or not someone lived a flourishing life.

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On what basis do you make such a conclusion?

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I can understand why a person needs to know if his own life is as good as it can be, but why would someone want to, or need to, know if another person lived a flourishing life?
Is the question here why would one want or need to morally judge a person after that person is dead?

I can think of a lot of good reasons to ask such a question. It could be of historical importance. It could give a person psychological information and insights. It could serve as a source of personal inspiration. Etc.

Until I know the particular questioner's context and reason for asking, the question is just a floating abstraction to me and I can't know what facts are relevant nor give an appropriate answer.

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I can understand why a person needs to know if his own life is as good as it can be, but why would someone want to, or need to, know if another person lived a flourishing life?
Is the question here why would one want or need to morally judge a person after that person is dead?
I can think of a lot of good reasons to ask such a question.
Ah. The way the query was phrased, it seemed a challenge to the validity of the question itself rather than simply a request for context.

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I can understand why a person needs to know if his own life is as good as it can be, but why would someone want to, or need to, know if another person lived a flourishing life?

One reason would be to find examples of flourishing lives, so that one can know that it is possible for man to be deeply happy in the long run, as well as to help a person understand what a good life consists of and how to achieve it.

Another reason would be: if someone has a theory of how to live a happy life, then the obvious questions to ask are: is that person himself (or herself) happy? Was he able to practice what he preached, and did the consequences turn out as expected?

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And yet another reason: I'd like to know that my closest friends are happy and living wonderful lives.

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I would like to return for a moment to Joynewyeary's original questions. Here is what I see as the essential substance of his (her?) questions, insofar as they touch on important issues in the foundation of a rational ethics.

...the living of a flourishing life is supposed to be the standard of value....

There should be something like a yardstick for measuring whether or not a particular person lived a flourishing life.

In other words, what are the essential distinguishing characteristics of a flourishing life, and how can they be quantified (measured)? Also, how does this relate to life as the standard of value? (Others have picked up on Joynewyeary's use of the past tense, but I would like to omit the time measurement and address the essence that remains.)

The concept of a flourishing life in relation to life as the standard of value is discussed in great depth by Tara Smith in Viable Values, Chapters 4 and 5. In fact, this may be exactly where Joynewyeary got it, although Joynewyeary will need to speak for himself on that point. (When I ran an electronic search in the literature of Objectivism as contained on the well known CD-ROM, the instances of "flourish" and "flourishing" that I found were all more "generic," not of the same order as Tara Smith's usage in relation to life as the standard of value.)

It would also be helpful (to focus the discussion) if Joynewyeary would explain exactly which aspects of Tara Smith's analysis he would like to discuss further. For now, I will let it suffice to mention a key introductory statement by Tara Smith:

Rand, I should point out, speaks of happiness rather than flourishing. I consider the two roughly interchangeable but will primarily use "flourishing" because ... [flourishing] suggests action. It reflects not just a feeling of satisfaction with one's experience, as happiness does, but also a person's own activity as the chief source of that feeling.

Chapter 5 elaborates at length on this basic perspective.

This much has many implications for Joynewyeary's questions. I can explain further if there is interest.

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