Philosophy – the meaning of life
My interviewee is JinZhang. Jin is 35 years old Chinese man. He spent most of his life living in the north part of China and then he move to the south. Now he is a CEO of a marketing company in Shenzhen, the most fast developed city in southern China. He know a lot about eastern philosophy and he loves to think about philosophic questions in his leisure time. However, he is not a professional philosopher. I hope Jin’s unique culture background can provide a difference perspective to our philosophic issues, and also helps us to have a more comprehensive understanding towards our topics.
1) A 2) A 3) A 4) A 5) A 6) A 7) A 8) B 9) A 10) A 11) B 12) B 13) B 14) B 15) B 16) B 17) B 18) B 19) B 20) B
Jin was asked to finish the survey at the beginning of our interview. He chose A from question 1 to question 7. According to the survey interpretation, it indicates that Jin is a person who agree with the idea that autonomy, self, morality, progress, and some of our happiness needs to come from valuable activities are the necessities that should be on the objective list of a good life. Mostly, those items overlap with the items of Kazez’s list. In addition, he gave A for question 9 and 10. Experience machine questions consistently show him value the reality heavily. They are also correlated with he is willing to know more about the reality at the expense of increasing the physical pain. Also, Jin gave B for question 8 as well as all the questions from 11 to 20. For Tom, he did agree that Tom must not have a good life since the morality is missing for his life. However, he thinks that pleasure do add to Tom’s life even when it has a morally wrong sources. Furthermore, he agrees that morality is essential to the good life even for disabilities. Additionally, achievement is not inherently life- enhancing.
By choosing “ no one should judge” for the last question, he shows that he is a culture relativist.
According to the survey, I have basic understanding that Jin is a culture relativist and generally support Kazez’s objective list of a good life. However, after we have a deep discussion, I realize that it is not that simple.
I asked him what kind of life is counted as a good life. His answer looks simple: as long as the person thinks he is having a good life, then his life is good. There is no objective standards should place on the person. This statement confuses me. For the survey, his answer shows that he supports the objective list view. Jin further explains that to determine that whether a person possesses a good life or not, we have to look at this question from two perspectives. Take the life Bella as an example. From some people’s view, Bella was not living in a good life because the autonomy is missing. “If you asked whether I want to have a life like her, I would not want. However, as long as Bella herself does feel that everything is going well and she is satisfied with her life, then she is living a good life.”, Jin said.
Jin further explains that the appropriate attitude of living a good life is to do what we cares about instead of fulfilling the expectation of the society. As long as one person has chosen by himself to pursue a specific kind of life, he is doing what he should do. We ought to distinguish our social expectation towards a good life of a person and his own expectation. A person choose to behavior morally is having a good life only when it is a life that he want to live with. For example, Tom has drilled a hole through the wall and enjoyed his neighbor undress every night. For sure, Tom is performing morally wrong behaviors. Not surprisingly, from the perspectives of the society and other people, he was a demoralized person and he must not live a good life. However, from Tom’s perspective, his behaviors did add happiness to his life. If Tom to choose to live his life in this way, and he has fully realize the risk of being caught and punished by the law, then he is living a good life from Tom’s perspective. Both perspectives are equally right.
Jin’s statement makes me feel that it is somehow like the combination of objective list view and the desire fulfill theory. Jin takes chess players as another example. If both chess players value the achievement of chess as a necessity of a good life, then the better player is having a better life. However, if both chess players do not value achievement heavily, their lives are equally well. To Jin’s understanding, there is no an objective list of a good life that is applied to everyone. For every individual, there may be a specific list for him/her to have a good life. But items on the lists can vary from person to person. Also, there may be no list for a particular person. The subjective feeling of meaningfulness becomes the only standard to evaluate that whether a person possesses a good life or not.