Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sports and Achievement in Life


            I decided to interview my close friend and suitemate of two years, an SMU athlete named Maureen, preferred name is “Mo”. She had no problem participating in the survey and was glad to share her experience of being on the SMU Rowing Team and how it has affected her life. Having little philosophy experience, she was a prime candidate for the survey. Also, having non-religious beliefs her results were excellent for non-biased interpretation. Originally from Iowa, the 21 year old has been playing sports since the age of 4 but has been attending Southern Methodist University since 2009 and is a pleasant and happy girl. Aside from the extreme dedication on the rowing team and for a while as an equestrian she is a happy and confident woman. Most of her interview questions led me to come to the conclusion that the ideas of ability and achievement play a huge role in both self-esteem and life purpose for her. Apart from musical hobbies, they are the central focus of her life. However, her idea of the meaning of life differs in a few ways.

Survey Results:

1. B       6. B      11. A       16. B        21. A
2. B       7. B      12. A       17. B
3. B       8. A      13. B       18. B
4. B       9. B      14. A       19. B
5. A      10. B     15. B       20. B


            From interpreting the first five questions which address what goods the individual deems are crucial and necessary for the good life, I found that Mo not only disvalued autonomy and self but progress as well. However, because of her response to the following question which focuses on Maggie and her dependence on gambling we see that though Mo believes that the magic drug could very well be adding pleasure and contributing to Maggies idea of a good life she sees fault in using gambling in the same way. She also answered the peeping Tom question (b), showing that she does believe that pleasure can come from a morally wrong sources as well as perfectly acceptable behaviors.
            When looking at Maureen’s answers to the questions relating to disability and the good life I found that she thought that Carlos’ life could be going well irregardless of his disability, there will be further more on what she thought of this in the interpretation section. Mo became really interested in this question as well as the chess player question, in which she answered a showing that she believes achievement is life enhancing though it does not impact all the aspects of an individual’s life.
            She did not value knowing your place in questions 9 or 10 and nor did she think it was important to resolve error if it amounted to any feeling of pain which were consistent with her answers to the following questions involving Sisyphus. Though it was thought that most people would answer B to number 11, my candidate actually found meaning in Sisyphus’ life whether he was continually pushing the rock with or without a pity drug from the gods. She also held that Sisyphus would be better off building a castle, which made it seem as if the idea of achieving an actual goal and having something to show for it mattered to Mo though she thought that if he enjoyed pushing it was a good life as well, addressed again in her interview. Mo also answered that glowworms have meaningful lives no matter how circular or pointless they may seem at a glance and her inclination towards the morality driven life was that it would be better off being driven by a goal than by a dedication to morality. These responses can be related back to the question about Carlos and her feelings that autonomy, self and progress are not necessities but are rather based on valuable activities.
            Mo’s responses to the experience machine questions were all consistent with showing that she values contact with reality and thinks that any real life is better than a virtual one, no matter how appealing we make it. Finally, when asked if Simeon Styllites was living a good life atop that pillar covered in sores Mo responded that she believed he was, a non-relativist claim.

In Depth:

            In my interview with Mo I took her survey results and first inquired as to why she found almost all things on the Objective List View unnecessary to actually live a happy life. Mo disregarded morality, autonomy, knowledge of self, and progress in her responses. Her response to this was that there was no way that anybody else “could judge whether Bella, Maggie, Norbert or even ‘me’ was living a good life” because while somebody could live life the exact same way, everyday of their lives; they could still be happy. Her justification of this was “some people just like what they like.” She found the pain for knowledge questions confusing and didn’t know how knowing your place was exactly related to living a happy life. Her view was that pain was the one thing that inhibited a happy life so even if knowledge came with that pain; it was only pain to her.
            I was curious about her responses to the magic drug question and how they differed to the gambling in the same nurse’s situation. She couldn’t differentiate between why she thought the situations did not hold the same weight but she felt that in taking the drug she was at least still focusing on her responsibilities where as if she was gambling she would be in some way neglecting her family or other things by “spending time away.” Her ideas about Carlos were pretty strong, she explained she worked with disabled children for some time and when I explained the different lists for different people ideas she thought it was an extremely interesting concept and when I talked about applying it to disabled it showed that she primarily agrees with Jean Kazez in that each list differs dependent on a person’s capacity.
            Her experience machine questions were not of primary concern, she thought that contact with reality was important. However I did talk to her about why she thought Sisyphus and the glowworms had meaning in their lives and she explained that she thinks that though she is an ‘atheist/apathetic’ everything is here, “however it is here” for a reason- nothing is meaningless especially if it makes the person happy who is doing it.” However, she did express that building a castle would probably add more to Sisyphus’  life and when I asked her about this she compared it to winning and receiving a trophy. She said that “achievement could significantly impact my life- If I work hard at something, I expect myself to do well. So when I fail at something I work at, it really frustrates me”.
            When I focused more on achievement in sports relating to the meaning of life she answered yes and no, however her responses and her passion in the interview showed support towards Hurka’s idea that they impact life for the better- chess question, etc. Her exact response was that sports both make her life better and hinder it- they give her structure and consistency but at times she finds this restrictive, other times it’s freeing. When asked point blank what she thought made life good she answered,

“I think a good life involves having the opportunity to work towards your goals and accepting failures as an inevitability; it also involves being able to create meaningful relationships and achieve what you want” 

- Mo

Desiree Aardema

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