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Not sure whether this question would fall under philosophy or psychology (both perhaps) but I was always curious why it is that children love video games but hate homework. Cognitively they are pretty much the same. They challenge the child to think critically to solve a problem, and provide a sense of reward when completed, so why is one cherished while the other despised?

Plato recounts a conversation in his magisterial dialogue "Republic" (at lines 475e-476b) where a young man names "Glaucon" and Socrates discuss education and philosophy (the love of wisdom). A distinction is generated between "lovers of sights and sounds" and "lovers of truth." I suspect something of that explains the difference you've discerned. Some people find satisfaction in sensuous experiences (the "lovers of sights and sounds"). They like images and fictions, make-believe, movies, shows, representations. They enjoy vivid and delightful shapes, colors, movement, music, powerful sub-woofer explosions, etc. Others enjoy ideas, theories, concepts, arguments, principles, and the discovery of fundamental truths about what's real, actual, and factual. They're less interested in exciting moments than in enduring wisdom. There's also a discussion perhaps relevant in work by the quasi-Platonic philosopher, Augustine, about how people get caught up in the desires of their eyes and senses generally, rather...

In social, political and economic discourse it is common to hear people discussing a concept like wealth as if what constitutes real, actual, or true wealth was both a clear and a settled matter. Both the term and the concept, wealth, are a close relative to the term and concept, value. In conventional and nearly ubiquitous usage, value and wealth are considered to be measurable or at least determinable in units of currency, or money. Yet careful examination reveals that a person, community, or nation can grow its stash of cash (money) while diminishing other social, ecological, spiritual (etc.) goods in this same persuit. Such goods are treated as "externalities" by economists and societies, and thus-and-therefore some economists have sought to measure these apparently incommensurables in monetary units, in order to gear our economy toward valuing these. My question is, isn't this whole project in a thousand ways doomed?

Yes, it's doomed. And, moreover, in many ways it's pernicious. It's pernicious because it biases the direction of social policy and even personal conduct in the direction of things measurable in monetary terms and thereby arguably misallocates resources. For example, consider one of the most prominent monetary measures of national wealth--GDP. The growth of GDP is typically taken to be a good thing. But really the best course of action would be to maximize the things that truly matter while minimizing GDP. GDP (or GNP if you like) measures the monetary cost of producing goods and services. But suppose you could produce the same goods and services while reducing GDP. Or, more importantly, suppose you could reduce GDP but actually increase things like happiness, life spans, general health, peaceableness, ecological well-being, biological diversity, educational attainment, artistic achievement, scientific advancement, moral virtue, athleticism, family stability, etc. The very...

What arguments are there to support a statement 'the goal of life is to be able to express yourself as entirely and truthfully as possible'?

I'm not familiar with arguments concerned with such a goal, per se. But many philosophers have argued for the importance of something you might regard as related to truthful and complete expression--namely "authenticity." Authenticity might be defined as taking responsibility for what one is and perhaps also affirming it, perhaps affirming it publicly. The use of ‘authenticity’ as a critical term is associated primarily with existentialist philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre and Simon de Beauvoir. Sartre’s and Beauvoir’s conception however was drawn from the work of phenomenologist Martin Heidegger (who is also, unfortunately, sometimes categorized as an existentialist), especially Sein und Zeit [Being and Time] (1927). Arguments in favor of being authentic seem to reliy on the premise that life is somehow more meaningful when lived authentically. Some philosophers have also made appeal to a kind of aesthetic view of life, such that realizing a beautiful self or treating one's life as a...

If every life results in death, then what is the meaning of life?

This is a compelling question. I remember encountering it in a powerful way reading Albert Camus’s essay, “Absurd Reasoning.” Recently, a student of mine broached it during a discussion we were having about the condition the universe seems to be heading towards. It seems, I’m told, that everything in the universe will ultimately degenerate into a vast, endless, more-or-less uniform, horribly cold and dark field of low-level radiation. Some call this condition, the final destination of the universe, “entropic hell.” In light of this apparent fact, the relevant question concerning the meaning of life is this: since everything we accomplish will ultimately be destroyed and degenerate into “entropic hell,” what meaning can anything have? I think there’s something misleading about his question, however, something that lurks in a hidden assumption that the question makes. The question and its force rely largely on the assumption that life has meaning only if it lasts forever. In my view, this is a...

I think that religion is just one's way to answer their own questioning of the meaning of life. Those without religion (like atheists and even agnostics) I believe do not have that internal need to find a meaning, so they do not turn to religion. Believing in God or a god gives a shorthand answer to life: that we were created to live. What are your thoughts?

Religion is a terribly important and interesting affair, isn't it. For myself, I'm a bit unsure about the "just" of your first sentence. I think that simply on empirical terms there can be no question that religion gives a sense of meaning to some people's lives. I have my doubts that religion is "just" or only that. I think that there are many, many (perhaps countless) factors that play into the existence and persistence of religion, among them a projection of parental authority, a desire to explain natural phenomena, an unwillingness to live with ambiguity or to accept human finitude, fear of death, compelling personal experiences, loneliness, custom, peer pressure, the instruction of authority figures, a need to come to terms with suffering, a desire to feel that one's own views are true and good, etc., etc., etc. You may be right about atheists and agnostics--that they lack some need that the religious have. But I also think that atheists and agnostics may simply find (or create) meaning...

Does "intrinsic value" - i.e., the value that nature has as of itself, as opposed to a value for humans - exist? The concept seems like an oxymoron. Nature also has economic values, which include "existence value", being the value that people place on knowing that nature exists even if they never use it. This may be expressed by a hypothetical "willingness to pay" for nature to continue to exist. I am wondering if nature conservation organisations around the world have got the two concepts confused. If so, this would have practical consequences for the way in which funding for conservation is sought.

For the most part, I agree with you that there's a lot of confusion out there about the notion of intrinsic value. As I see it, value can only occur through a valuer or group of valuers. No valuers, no value. The idea that value exists independently of valuers is incoherent. Having said that, I don't think that the concept of "intrinsic value" to be utterly worthless or non-sensical. It's a useful concept for contrasting against "instrumental value" or "commercial value." Hence "intrinsic value" may be used meaningfully to describe what you point to in your question under the rubric of "existence value"--value accorded the natural world as not used, even when it's not used, or because it's not used. But I also think it epxresses a kind of value humans recognize that isn't well expressed through economic categories like "willingness to pay" or "price" or "market value." Translating values, costs, and benefits into monetary figures is notoriously difficult, and I think for good reason. So, it's...

Which of these is a better life? Live fast; die young - a life filled with excitement passion and adventure which ends abruptly on your 30th birthday. Or: Slow and steady wins the race - a life of contentment and satisfaction but little out of the ordinary which lasts well into your dotage.

There is no single answer to this question, just as there is no best life. There are many good lives, and many fitting each of these descriptions. Different characters will find different lives good. For myself, I say, on balance the latter is to be preferred. I find myself in agreement with the ancient Epicureans that most agitating passions produce more unhappiness than happiness, and that easy natural pleasures are better than artificial dynamic pleasures. Tranquility punctuated by ecstatic moments looks pretty good from where I sit.