Feb 25, 2021 • 19M

DP 010: What Is a Good Human Life?

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We saw before how to exercise our virtues, how to develop our practical wisdom and how to improve the way we relate to our work. We talked about having the right values in life, how to make new experiences and how to stay young.

But one could ask: does Aristotle’s theory apply in the same way to all cultures, or is it specific to some Western notion of the desirable life? Could a Muslim society, or an indigenous tribe in South America, embrace the Aristotelian life? And if so, what exactly would this look like?

In the capabilities approach, philosopher Martha Nussbaum argues that a human life, in order to reach its highest potential, must include a number of “capabilities” — that is, of actual possibilities that one can realise in one’s life. These include the ability to live a life that is “worth living,” the ability to use one’s imagination, sufficient education to enable a “truly human” understanding of the world and one’s position in it, having dignity and a sense of equal worth, as well as the ability to participate in the political life of one’s society.

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Music: Open Goldberg Variations by JS Bach, recorded by Kimiko Ishizaka. https://opengoldbergvariations.org/ Licence: All tracks are provided without copyright (Creative Commons Zero). All uses permitted.