Some lives are commonly categorized as meaningful or not meaningful, whereas others are described as more or less meaningful. People have a tendency to believe that certain lives are more meaningful than others for some reason. The question of how one comes to the conclusion that certain lives are more meaningful than others begs a response. The more one uses one’s own purpose in ways that positively orient reasoning for the basic conditions of human nature, the more meaningful one’s life becomes (Metz 222). As a result, varying degrees of meaningfulness exist in human lives. There are no widely accepted metrics for these thresholds, so it’s unclear how they’re reached. There is intrapersonal comparability of meaning implying that there are certain parts of life that are more important and hence meaningful than others. Further, the meaningfulness can be evaluated in terms of the intrapersonal aggregation. Pleasure and meaning can be termed as intrapersonally aggregative. It is such kind of rough measures that people that people use to estimate the meaningfulness of one’s life at a particular time. Similar claims are applied in judging one’s whole life as either meaningful or not. This purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that all lives are equally meaningful since lives are incomparable and lack transitivity.
Incomparability of Lives
There is no universal scale on which lives can be compared or measured with respect to their meaning to determine how meaningful they are. However, this does not mean that lives cannot be compared. They can actually be compared but not on scales and measures like one would do with length. If lives are to measured, then there would be no precision and thus the measure of meaning would only be a vague and rough measure. To find out whether someone’s life is more meaningful than another person’s life then it may be necessary to have a third person to compare their lives to (Metz 233). This kind of judgement may prove to be very problematic.
If the lives of two people are incomparable, then it would be right to conclude that both lives are equally meaningful. This position can be interpreted in a couple of ways. One, with respect to meaningfulnes then some lives cannot be compared because neither is more meaningful than the other. In this sense, therefore, all lives are equal because of the incomparability. The other idea implies that apart from “more,” “less” or “equally meaningful,” there is a fourth relation. It can be loosely translated to mean belonging to the same league. Therefore, if two lives are in the same league then none is more meaningful than the other but they are not equally important too. They cannot be compared in the same way allowed for by the first orthodox view since this argument is less conventional compared to the first.
One common belief that is held globally is that we are all, created equal. All humans were all created by God in His (own) image, and there is no male or female since all are one in Christ Jesus (King James Bible, Gen 1:27). Therefore, we are all the same and hence have equal chances of success. However, the reality is that we do not have the same abilities and therefore do not stand the same chance of succeeding. Each person bears a unique set of strengths which can help them to achieve whatever they want to. On the contrary, everyone has a unique set of challenges that hinder them from realizing the kind of success they wish.
Some strengths are seen to be more important than other, and hence some people are seen to be more important than others. It has turned into some lives being seen as more meaningful than others. For example, if a baby is born disabled, then they do not stand the same chance as those who do not have any disability. If today a leader died, say, the president of the US then this will attract global attention. A global mourning day may even be declared to honor the dead president. The death will make headlines in media house around the world. However, if someone else dies, let’s say an ordinary citizen like a farmer dies then the death will not attract such kind of attention. The demise may go with only few people knowing and without any single media house talking about it.
People tend to mix the meaning of life and the status one holds in the society. Everyone has one life to live. The status or position that one holds may affect many regarding the kind of decision they make while at the positions that they occupy. Therefore, the death of a president will be much publicized and will attract a lot of attention. It is not like their lives are more important than the lives of other but rather the positions that they occupy. Otherwise, the two lives are equally meaningful.
Non-Transitivity of Ranking of Lives
If many items are in determinate positions, then it means that they occupy different ranks and therefore one could be higher or lower than others. However, when it comes to lives, then it is unclear whether lives can be ranked such that some lives are more significant than others. If lives are to be ranked like items, then it would mean that the lives that are higher up are more important than the lives that are lower down on whatever the ranking system used. Since such classification requires transitivity and human lives are not transitive then it means that all lives are equal (Metz 64).
The lack of transitivity in relation to being more or less meaningful is, therefore, overall in life. Life is complicated and therefore it is right to assume that that non-transitive cycle of life is pervasive. Ranking cannot be done without transitivity and therefore all lives are equally meaningful, none is more or less significant than the other (Metz 158). Despite the fact that there could be local and even regional comparisons but there are no global rankings. Even though all lives are equally meaningful, some countries like the United States of America have shown the opposite. The US does not offer uniform compensation for the victims. To date, the highest amount that has ever been received by any Iraqi for injury or property damage is $15,000. However, in the US, following the war with Iraq, the government pushed for to double the death benefits made to families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq to $500,000 (Shallal).
There has been a lot of debate on how the international media has always covered terrorist attacks in the US and Europe and other parts of the world. One common criticism in the following the attacks is that the Western media only care about the attacks that occur in the US and Europe. The kind of media attention that attacks such as the Paris terrorist attack attracted cannot be compared to the kind of attention that the Garissa University attack in Kenya received. Perhaps, this according to many people, the media do not see all the lives as equally important. The expectation is that if all the lives of terrorist attack victims were equal, then all the attacks ought to receive the same kind of coverage from all the international media houses like CNN and Aljazeera.
In determining the meaningfulness of life, whether all lives are equally meaningful or not there are two limitations, that is incomparability and failure of transitivity. Both bear an implication on the way one ought to think about the meaning of life. Whether all lives are equal or not is an evaluative issue and therefore different make divergent views on the meaning. No one chose to be born in the whichever way they were born. With one life to live and death inevitably at the end, all lives are equal, just that we have different strengths and weaknesses. The meaningfulness of life is based on how people view the person’s strengths and weaknesses. Someone’s life may be seen as less meaningful by one person and the same life be viewed as more meaningful by another person.
Metz, Thaddeus. Meaning in Life: An Analytic Study. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Print.
Shallal, Anas. Are All Lives Equal? Not According to the Way the US Compensates Victims. 3 July 2006. Web. 8 February 2017.
The Bible. King James Bible Online
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