William James believes in various worlds, which he identifies as the realms of reality. Reality describes the state of things based on how they actually occur and not on a notional or idealistic idea of the things. The meaningfulness of life includes the feeling of control attained when individuals feel able to live their lives effectively and reach set goals. Psychology holds that individuals create life stories to understand events of life and bring out the meaning of life. James notes that the natural world forms part of the larger reality. The perception is helpful as it allows us to determine why life is worth living.
According to James, the meaning of life can be considered happiness. The rationale for the argument is that happiness is the reason behind our motivation to act in a particular way and endure it (Lecture Notes: James, n.d). In his views about evolution, James perceives it as the progressive advance towards happiness. As a result, if a person does not find it easy to achieve happiness, he or she is likely to wonder whether life is worth living. Meaningfulness of life includes how well life stories connect to an individual. Moreover, meaningfulness is actualized via satisfaction with life, positive functioning, happiness, enjoyment of work at home, and positive affect (Jackman, 2014). Besides, the meaning of life can be considered in terms of generalized well-being and physical health.
James established that habit and will dictate the secret to a good life. It is observed the majority of individuals usually oscillate between sadness and joy (James, 1902). Humans also revolve around despair and ecstasy. Consequently, the majority of humans will ultimately develop the thought that life is not worth living. Nearly any individuals who find themselves amid certain merriment and are suddenly faced with disease, death, and suffering would establish that their unabated exuberance regarding life is quickly dispelled.
One of the evidence that not all people are temperamentally optimistic is suicide. Besides, most people face despondency following philosophical reflection. Such a reflection regarding the ultimate nature of things is found to breed despair among people (James, 1985). According to James, pessimism is associated with unfulfilled religious demand. The primary source of pessimism is linked to a reflective grasp among humans regarding the contradiction between the facts concerning nature and the desire of humans to believe there exists something good behind the identified facts (James, 1985). It is argued that for the trusting, such reflective pessimism fails to surface. However, for the individuals who keep a scientific approach, there are only two potential solutions to clear discord. First, one should forgo a poetic reading or religious reality and accept the actual facts of nature (James, 1902). The second possible solution is adopting new beliefs or discovering new facts that help in the reconciliation of a spiritual reading regarding reality with science’s hard facts.
The concern in this argument includes the new religious beliefs that potentially hasten the reconciliation. In his view, James holds that the essence of religious supernaturalism involves the perception that the natural order forms part of a larger reality (James, 1985). The perception offers importance to human beings’ mundane existence. Further, the above argument helps in explaining the riddles of the world. As a result, it can be deduced that the above beliefs are likely to assist humans, especially in each of meaning or life. It is from the above belief that James notes that humans possess the right to believe the physical order to involve only a partial order. Human beings have the right to supplement the partial order with the use of an unseen spiritual order. The religious order among believers is assumed only on trust.
The use of scientific arguments about life only offers a glimpse of what is regarded as real. Nevertheless, the knowledge from a scientific argument is considered minuscule compared to the massive ignorance of human beings. Skeptics will admit as much, although they fail to apply their ignorance to positive state things regarding what is unknown. They counsel humans to withhold assent regarding matters where there is inconclusive evidence. When an individual refrains from believing in the supernatural, they express their refrain by acting such that the supernatural is not real. When an individual acts in a manner that religion is not true, he or she effectively acts in a way that it is actually not true. Nevertheless, scientific arguments are not mandated with the authority to entirely deny that an invisible world exists. Primarily, science only manages to state what is, but it fails to speak about what is not.
Individuals may believe in an unseen spiritual world and receive practical benefits. When humans remove comfort from themselves, it may result in suicidal despair (James, 1985). The claim may be perceived as mere wishful thinking. However, humans have little understanding of reality in relation to omniscience. The above belief is dependent on the likelihood that something exists instead of a confirmed reality. In contrast, human lives and their actions are always considered with uncertainty. Humans need to trust and act. If we hesitate to trust and act, the result involves a certain death. We may not be very sure, but it is important to believe, especially in the practical. Such a belief helps humans to live.
The concern of whether life is regarded as worth living is found to be similar based on James’ argument. An individual may accept a pessimistic perception and end up committing suicide (James, 1985). A person has the potential to make something true for themselves by believing in it. Nevertheless, optimism can be used to make lives worth living. It is possible to hold the perception that there exists something good beyond the world we live in. If an individual's subjectivity does not yield to the gloom, an individual will find joy in life. In this way, the person will have made life become worth living (Jackman, 2014). Optimism only exists if we express faith in an unseen world. Humans can also hold faith in the spiritual or religious world to give a reason for our belief in the worthiness of the world. It requires courage where an individual risks his or her life on a mere possibility and expresses faith in a particular possibility. When we live in the world, we should not be afraid of life. It is important to believe that life is entirely worth living. As a result, the belief that an individual holds regarding the worthiness of life helps develop the fact that it is worth living. Life is thus regarded as worth living. It is acknowledged that there occur certain moments when it is extremely hard in life. A person who manages to go through such situations is likely to realize how wonderful life is. Mainly, it depends on how an individual experiences life.
The natural world is a part of the larger reality and our belief helps determine and create the fact that life is worth living. The life of human beings includes a continuous series of possibilities. Life is found to become worth living when we ultimately believe that it is worth living. The belief needs to be followed by an act and commitment that gives life meaning. The happiness depicted by humans appears to require that they need to demonstrate ideals that they strive to attain them. As humans, we need to think that we continually make significant progress toward achieving our ideals.
Lecture Notes: James. (n.d). Philosophy 1100: The meaning of life.
James, W. (1902). The varieties of religious experience
James, W. (1985). “Is life worth living?”.
Jackman, H. (2014). 13 1 James1 HR. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4iNA-3QzuA
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