People sometimes lament that success is often socially defined as the


People sometimes lament that success is often socially defined as the ‘5Cs’. They don’t find that appealing. And when we ask what’s a better notion of success, many would point to something within the individual.



People sometimes lament that success is often socially defined as the ‘5Cs’. They don’t find that appealing. And when we ask what’s a better notion of success, many would point to something within the individual. We considered 2 such views in class.

(1) Success is being as happy as you can be

Very crucially, we must pin down what is meant by ‘happiness’. It seems most people mean something like a positive mental state. Pleasure, contentment or the like. But if this is success, then being permanently plugged into the experience-machine would make for the perfectly successful life. But does that strike you as perfectly successful?

(2) Success is living as you desire

This means getting as many of your desires fulfilled as possible. But consider Mr Sloth, whose single greatest desire is to sleep the rest of his life away. Fulfilling that entails getting himself into a vegetative state for the remaining 70 years of his life. Suppose he is really gifted and would find the cure of cancer if he tried, thereby saving millions of people. Furthermore, assume he would enjoy the process immensely even if he doesn’t currently have the desire to cure cancer. Would the best life for Mr Sloth really be sleeping away his remaining 70 years?

If you reject (1) and (2), what would be a better view of success?

If you accept either (1) or (2), could you explain why? You could help address the concerns others have about that view.

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