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  • Writer's pictureCrone

A life worth living

I read this article on Psyche which came up just when I was considering this very question.

My reason for considering this was not entirely personal though I guess I should start with that. My view: if you're not doing anything useful to others (family, community, local ecosystem, the world of earth beings) then basically you're a waste of resources. Harsh. Yep. Crone's a bitch. And of course that makes me question what of use I am doing... bit of conservation, bit of family support, bit of friendship, caring for two cats and feeding birds. How does that balance against the air miles of my avocados and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc? The chickens killed for the cats? The diesel fumes? The water, electricity and gas? The use of Amazon? Not entirely sure.

See, some people think it's about the balance of pleasure versus pain. Do I experience more pleasure than pain? Not entirely sure. Do I contribute more pleasure than pain - that seems more important to me and yet the jury's out.

One reason given not to die is that one misses out on all future pleasures. Silly. There's no one alive to miss out! There's no one whose record can carry that negative mark.

Another reason is that one might not have completed one's projects. Again, if you're dead you can't regret that. And besides, what if you have no projects? Or no meaningful and useful projects? What if your projects would cause harm and suffering?

What is lost when you die is the pleasure or benefit you might have brought to others had you lived longer. But in most cases that's probably balanced by the pain and suffering you'd have caused (chickens, diesel fumes, air miles).

On the not-personal level, I was thinking about very sick or disabled animals. Were they sick or disabled in a wild wood, they'd be killed. However, if they're not in a wild wood, but in a rescue centre, what then?

The end of that article helped me:

[P]erhaps the lesson is not so much that a ... life lacks unconditional value, but rather that there are things in life that are more important than life itself. For the carpenter, it is his work – a vocation – that is a major source of life’s meaning. He loves his work and does it well; it has defined his life to the extent that further existence is not even conceivable without it. His role as a carpenter is also the way that his life is embedded in social structures, and the contribution to these structures is what makes his life meaningful. So functions can be regarded not as vehicles of instrumentalisation but of integration. They define how an individual life fits into the fabric of reality, and thus make a life meaningful. Just as the social functions integrate us into the social context, so the biological functions integrate us with the broader context of nature and cosmos.

Integration. Being able to live as you were wont to live is what integrates you with the broader context of nature and cosmos. It is that integration that makes a life worth living.

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Mar 26, 2023

A serious matter. Your post helps me understand and feel why it's a serious matter. Integration and the reality of it. The artwork is outstanding. (And I read the Psyche article.)

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