A Valuable and Meaningful Individual Life

Shand, John (2011). A Valuable and Meaningful Individual Life. Journal of Philosophy of Life, 1(2) pp. 74–83.

URL: https://www.philosophyoflife.org/jpl201105.pdf


Analogously the determinants of the value and meaning of an artwork are fundamentally the same as for an individual life. In both the value and meaning are determined by the parts, in their particularity and in their configuration, as well as, respectively, the subjective contribution of the person whose life it is and whomsoever observes the artwork. However, a person and his life are inextricably linked in a way an observer and an artwork are not. We should learn caution from the fact that to tinker with the parts and configuration of an artwork will likely destroy its value and meaning and apply that to the lives of individuals, and fully respect the particularity and the subjectivity of evaluation involved. We should eschew all but the idea of universal prescriptions for the good-life for individuals, just as we would do so in the case of a good artwork.

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