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Meaning of life notes

by: Delaney Wilson

Meaning of life notes PHIL 230E

Delaney Wilson

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Notes from last wednesday!
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Delaney Wilson on Monday September 26, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHIL 230E at Old Dominion University taught by ALEXANDER J KOUTSARES in Summer 2016. Since its upload, it has received 7 views. For similar materials see INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS in Humanities and Social Sciences at Old Dominion University.

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Date Created: 09/26/16
Ethics week four: Pleasure There is a tendency for some of us to be pessimistic: we look at our lives, at the things we do and the things we accomplish and we think to ourselves, none of it really matters, we are all going to die eventually, most of us won’t be remembered more than a generation after our deaths- and even then possibly only by our own families. - Almost none of us will have made the sort of lasting impact that people remember 200 years or 1000 years or 3000 years later. - From this perspective it’s very easy to argue that life is simply pointless. Can we in any effective way respond to the pessimist and show that they’re wrong? - We could argue that they’re looking at things from the wrong perspective. - There are a lot of people who made very important contributions to our world. Blackburn in this context brings up Bishop Berkelery (George Berkelery). Blackburn mentions his “vice of abstraction” simply defined: This is the idea that looking at things in the abstract can lead us to draw the wrong conclusions. Abstract thinking “isn’t” a bad thing, but relying on it too much or applying it too frequently can be. - Consider going to dinner. - Abstractly: consider going to dinner. Dinner will end and you’ll end up paying a premium, and 8-12 hours you’ll be hungry, so going out to dinner doesn’t seem to accomplish much. - Concretely: imagine going to pizza hut, with a few of your friends (Squad) Blackburn argues that “meaning” is very often a personal thing. A personal perspective in which we consider what we value is very important, but it won’t allow us to create a very precise broad perspective of meaning. All of the philosophers we’ll discuss today will say something like “being happy is the goal/purpose of life” Aristotle: - He believes that there are two key components to living a good life or a “happy life.” - Although a better term for what he’s describing might be the “admirable life.” - We want to be happy, to enjoy our lives and be satisfied with what we do and accomplish. That’s our “personal” goal. - “as humans:” we all have a purpose, a common purpose. - Man is a social animal. And for Aristotle is either more than a man or less than a man (a God or an animal.) - Man is also The Rational animal. We can uniquely understand, modify, manage, and take responsibility for our world. The stoics: - The stoics believed that individually we really couldn’t effect the world very much, they were pessimists. The one thing we can control is our emotions. We can decide how we feel about the world. We should try to be happy, to desire, (or to will) that the world be exactly as it will be. Jeremy Bentham: - Bentham was a hedonist, he believed that the one thing we all value , the one measurable value is pleasure. Pleasure = good and pain = bad. For him the study of ethics, the study of the good life is really just a scientific question. How can we produce more pleasure or less pain? - He believed we can “scientifically” go about producing better outcomes for everyone.


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