Thinking Makes it so; A Defence of Narrative Reflection as the Appropriate Measure of Worthwhile Life
If the unexamined life is not worth living, is the examined life necessarily worth living? And what are we to say if our mode of examination is flawed? Given the proliferation of research highlighting the biases, flaws and heuristics which are operational when we engage in evaluative judgements, the second question becomes not an obtuse irrelevance, but rather a pertinent and critical issue. Furthermore, with an increasing body of work suggesting that life is not in fact worth beginning or living, the first question takes on a greater urgency. This essay attempts to answer the question of where we are to locate the guarantor of a life being worth living; that is to say, whether or not we can be wrong as to the judgements we make with regards the worthwhileness of our own lives. Taking it as axiomatic that “worth”, with regards to a life, is something internal to the life in question, I show how one could suggest that we can indeed be misguided in our evaluations, before demonstrating that such a position is untenable, in that it rests upon flawed conceptions as to what constitutes a self to whom a life could be worth living. I put forward the argument that the worth of a life can be found within the moment that I call ‘narrative reflection’, which is the moment where the subject evaluates his situation and condition. This moment is elevated to utmost importance in my account due to the fact that it is itself constitutive of the self, and thus an active part of variable within the life being examined. After replying to a series of conceivable objections, I draw out some tentative implications which this depiction of worthwhile lives leads to.