I have a hard time being honest about the goals and desires of others. A lot of time I talk about the general population as if I have a decent understanding of their wants. But really, I think I’m misrepresenting them by worrying so much about philosophy and science. There isn’t a better way to go about it though. You need to formalize ideas somehow or we aren’t having conversations.
I don’t think most people care. Not because there is something fundamentally wrong with them but because it’s hard to care when other things seem more pressing. Meaning in life or figure out to pay rent? Here on wordpress, most of us probably take time to think about our problems and life in general. We think about our goals and dreams, and usually they are fairly lofty. We have a weird sample because only people who are motivated to write about their interests, relationships, feelings, jobs, etc. come here. All we see are those types of people. I think writers, in general, are aware. They analyze and think in order to write. But not everyone in the population is writing a blog. Not everyone is concerned about meaning. Many more are concerned about how to get ahead, how to get out, how to improve things, and other, more practical, stuff like that.
I’m not claiming the practical stuff isn’t important, but it’s just not the same. And it’s hard to honestly talk about the society and intuitions and morality when our underlying drives are so different. Does everyone want the good life? Probably but we aren’t going about it the same way at all. I’m a super important college graduate, more worried about getting into grad school than eating dinner tonight. I’m not rich by any means, I’m just okay not being rich by any means. I can survive and I’m okay with that. I’d rather sit around and imagine idealized worlds to argue some, probably, irrelevant point about human nature (that won’t change a thing even if it turns out to be completely true) than think about how to make money and “move up” in the world. I’m sure many people around here feel similarly about different types of things. I think people here would sacrifice money and stability for the chance to write books or sing songs.
The trouble is, that isn’t how most of the world works. Hearing the word business puts me to sleep, but we’d really need to rethink society without it. I feel the same way about fame and celebrity. But how I feel doesn’t change the number of gossip magazines in the check-out line of Safeway. A study found that many people want fame just for the sake of being famous. There isn’t an internal drive to make art. To act. To sing. To write. It’s just the recognition and money. (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/2013/09/04/why-do-you-want-to-be-famous/)
So how do we talk about people who want fame and people who want meaning under the general heading of the good life? How do we do it, philosophers?