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aging, but not on the way to dying:
superiority of purposefulness over passivity

april 3, 2010


Staying actively alive is good at least because the satisfactions and fulfillments of life provide recurrent pleasure. Complex pleasures (Pleasure) can be more fulfilling than simple ones (though what’s life without an abundance of simple pleasures). The Pleasure of active satisfactions and fulfillments is integral to human life. No matter how lacking one’s life is, the potential for fulfillment is always there.

Research clearly shows that staying active extends life. Activism, so to speak—fulfilling mental engagement and physical exercise—significantly extends one’s life span (along with other preventive health care habits). We are born to act. A passive mind doesn’t need a healthy body. The unminded body withers, given extended lack of purpose, because the primary purpose of human life is to actively fulfill itself.

When a story ends fittingly, the witness (reader, viewer, listener) is satisfied, yet especially satisfied is the engaged witness, one who may find a fulfillment in the fittingness (gladness, approval). The writer of a story is fulfilled, surely (more than satisfied), by finding its fitting closure; the makers fulfilled (beyond satisfaction) by seeing the project completed. We want the world to be in good order (or gain or retrieve that). We want things cohering as they “should,” which is more than satisfying.

I contend that active engagement is superior to passive “engagement” because fulfillment is superior to satisfaction, such that satisfactions oriented by prevailing desire for fulfillment are superior to satisfactions as such. So, active or engaged satisfaction is superior to passive satisfaction, because action (not just behavior!) is integral to the integrity of human life; activity can be more satisfying (and more durably satisfying) than passivity. We are beings who may complexly intend, which may be especially rewarded by complex satisfactions and fulfillments because that’s what intelligent life evolved to want. Generally lacking desire clearly indicates a need for help.

The complexity of pleasure, satisfactions, and fulfillments is altogether no simple value of pleasure, no straightforward “Pleasure Principle,” except inasmuch as the meaning of ‘pleasure’ inflates to comprehend all sophistications of fulfillments and scale of goods: the “Pleasure” of Flow and fruitfulness, the Pleasure of thriving and finding fulfillment in appreciation of It All. Persons who find passive satisfaction in others’ productivity depend on those “actors” (in the largest sense) who create the possibilities of passive satisfaction. In that sense, the actors as such are superior to the consumers as such, because consumption depends on prior fruitfulness.

Next: appreciation as high perception for living fruitfully.

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