Re: What does a rich, full, higher, dignified life consist o
Okay. Let me first of all clarify that I'm talking about moral phenomenology, not ontology. (And remember I'm talking about morality in a broad sense relating to the good life, not in a narrow sense relating to our obligations). So what I'm discussing is how our moral world appears to us. How we actually inhabit it and move through it. It seems clear to me that, when we observe the unemployed man I described in the OP, for most of us it seems like he really is not living the most full life. That he is missing out on certain important goods. Now, for the sake of this discussion, I'm not concerned about what this sense commits us to ontologically (if it commits us to anything at all). I'd rather stay clear of the familiar discussion about whether God "grounds" objective this or that. What I would like to explore is just this moral sense. What is it that each of us admires or throws censure upon? What sort of life commands our respect? What are the goods found in such a life? And particularly, what sense do we have about how an opposing ideology encourages or discourages the cherishing of these goods?
Originally posted by Cow Poke
Perhaps it would be helpful to further flesh out some common features of our moral phenomenology. From what I can tell, you seem to think that if a person feels satisfied with their life, then in an important sense, that person does truly have a full life. I'd like to say that that's not how we really see things. Consider the person who hates education and learning. This person vows never to read beyond the bare minimum required to get by. Deep thought and reflection are irrelevant interferences according to him/her. Science, philosophy, literature, none of it is even dabbled in. Even so, this person genuinely feels pretty happy with their life. Would we not still want to say that this person is missing out on something really valuable? Wouldn't we want to say that the neglect of the intellect constitutes a real lack in their life? Surely we would.
That person's subjective sense of satisfaction isn't enough to overturn our sense that he/she is really lacking something important here. We feel that her life would be bettered (even if complicated) by some appreciation of the intellect. Of course, the subjective sense of satisfaction isn't completely irrelevant. If a person has all sorts of goods in their life but is always miserable that is clearly not an enviable state of affairs. But the subjective feeling isn't the crux of the matter, I'm saying. It's one factor among many.
My own conviction is that we over-emphasise the epistemic struggles between theism and atheism and neglect these more moral or "existential" matters. Does Christianity tend to produce impoverished lives or rich lives? Does atheism tend to promote fullness and satisfaction or a stifling of one's humanity? I think these are important questions.
Last edited by nightbringer; May 5th 2012 at 10:51 AM.
"We have all our beliefs but we don't want our beliefs; God of peace, we want you." Aaron Weiss