First, I would like to remind you of the five main values that make your life worth living. According to Roger Crisp, those are; pleasure, understanding, achievement, friendship and practical reasoning. I wrote about understanding before, and today I will write about achievement.
There are lots of things which you might think of as an achievement. Gaining your driving license, getting married, travelling all around the world, and lost of other things are commonly considered by us ac achievements. However, this is not what is meant by making an achievement here. All of the examples mentioned before are great things but what makes them valuable might be gaining pleasurable experiences or developing a strong attachment to someone or other values in life. However, satisfying the value of achievement itself is gained through other set of activities.
I will try to explain what I have just said a little bit more. To have a valuable life, you must achieve in it. To achieve in your life you must do something that will strengthen the theory you have about this life. As I have argued before, when I wrote about the value of understanding, we all need to develop a theory about life. Such a theory must be the most coherent theory we can come up with, it should explain the nature of the universe, the human experience and life in general, and it should invite agreement among all well informed rationally thinking human beings. Efforts made in science and philosophy seem to be the most promising among other efforts in developing such a theory. It is true that we can’t claim that the ultimate theory ,we are aspiring for, have been already developed ,but I think we are justified in holding a hope that one day we will do develop such a theory. In order to gain the value of achievement you must make a contribution toward strengthening this developing theory. In simpler terms, you should make an impact on this world or on humanity that will be beneficial according to the theory that enables you to understand this world. I can give some examples here. We are already discussing the theory of welfare presented by Roger Crisp. This theory seems to be the most promising in explaining what is good about life. If you accepted such a theory, then you would be entitled to think of yourself as making an achievement when you promote the five main values of life for other people surrounding you. Helping other people to gain pleasure, understanding, achievements, friendship or better ability to reason practically would be a great achievement made by you. Another example I can think of is this; science informs us that global warming is a great threat to our existence, accordingly making an effort to eliminate the causes of this phenomenon would still be another valuable achievement since it fits well within the theory that you understand the world through.
I have argued before that those five main values in life are all founded upon our basic desires as human beings. As I have mentioned before, those desires are raw and primitive. They contradict each other. They face lots of limitations, and all of them must be managed rationally to reach the best results. All of those desires lead to happiness when they are satisfied. However, the necessity of their rational management reveals that it is not only happiness we are seeking but those five main values we have mentioned repeatedly. I think it is an appropriate place to explain this mush further by making an appeal to achievement. The value of achievement might be based on the desires of self actualization and self esteem. Those desires are best achieved by recognizing and utilizing your most promising ability. One of the best instruments, to tell you that you are on the right track to satisfy those desires, is social recognition and approval. Now, if you only focused on satisfying those desires rather than focusing on gaining the value of achievement, you might end up having a less valuable life. Imagine if you were able to paint. If you focused on gaining social recognition to satisfy your desire of self actualization you might nice paintings that would be liked by so many people. Now imagine if you didn’t care about social recognition that much and focused instead on the theory you have about this life and attempted to express such a theory through your paintings. As an artist, you are most probably capable of figuring out the aesthetics behind paintings more than anyone else. Attempting to express your point of view of aesthetics might yield far better products, and attempting to express your theory about life might give a remarkable depth and meaning to those paintings. Focusing on the value of achievement rather than the desires of self actualization and self esteem might yield far better satisfaction of those same desires.
Now there is a final point I would like to make. I totally believe that each one of us is unique. The coagulum of each one’s abilities together with our different experiences would make each one of superior in a particular aspect of life. It is this unique ability which you should recognize and utilize to reach the value of achievement. However, even though your best achievement will most probably be made by your most remarkable ability, but lots of other achievements can still be made by you without depending on any unique ability at all. Any effort to strengthen your theory of life would account as an achievement. What I really believe in is that even though it is a great thing to be ambitious but it is still very important to be humble. As I have mentioned in my previous post, it is ok to accept that the fact that we still don’t understand life fully. It would be much better to make a humble contribution to further understand the world rather attempting to rush things up by giving a full blown theory about life which is filled with incoherent supernatural claims. The same thing goes when it comes to achievement. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a famous artist to think of yourself as having a life full of achievements. Helping your friend, participating in social work, arguing for what you think is right might all be great achievements.
I think everyone once defined the most promising theory to understand life, should start seeking achievements. You should recognize your most promising ability and make a long term plan to actualize the potentials you can achieve. However, in addition, it would be great to make an achievement every single day. Think each day of how you might do even a little thing to strengthen the theory you have about this life. Teaching your kid something that would benefit him or others, participating in charity, helping the deprived, acting morally, and promoting benevolence might all be great achievements that can be done on daily basis.