What is achievement, and why does it have any value for us as humans? This is a question that I think has a long and interesting answer. I think an achievement has something to do with performing an action that others cannot or will not perform in a way that demonstrates specifically human capacities. But it’s  more complicated than that. Some things are achievements in relative terms. When a paraplegic completes a 5 mile race in a wheelchair, that’s an accomplishment. Hell, that’s an accomplishment for a person with two working legs, but the point is that achievement is relative to what one can physically accomplish. Other types of achievements are specific to a certain set of rules. A three point shot at the buzzer to win the championship is only an accomplishment if one takes the shot, in bounds, during the specified time limit, etc. etc. Climbing Everest only counts as an achievement if one does it without the aid of a helicopter, without too many sherpas, etc. etc.

I think morality functions this way for our lives in general. A life well lived is an accomplishment, and part of what makes a life a triumph or a victory is that it was lived in accordance with certain rules. Someone who doesn’t take into account the needs of others or who lies, cheats, etc. invalidates the achievement that is the person’s life, just as the person who sinks a three pointer at the buzzer but pushes his defender out of the way without the refs seeing. Though the shot might fall, it is no achievement, because it was not done in accordance with the rules that govern that achievement. Steroid use is another example.


0 Responses to “Achievement”

  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: