During our online seminar on October 5, 2017 (within “The Berlin Forum Seminars Online Project”) we discussed John Lachs’s “The Quality of Life (2017)” (READ it from HERE or DOWNLOAD PDF from HERE). Lachs (1934-) is one of leading American pragmatists. His interest in practical philosophy can best be seen in his texts devoted to the quality of living in Western societies. In his short essay, he talks about the role of prosperity and medical advances in shaping our contemporary sense of the quality of life. Also, he shortly analyzes the role of success and self-knowledge about happiness and the objectives we feel important in and for our lives. He suggests that, independently of the social status, our achievements should be followed by new efforts.
In this very text, we see some traits of what Lachs shows us in his other texts. Namely, he tries to link the pragmatic philosophy with some practical aspects of the Stoic philosophy — taken predominantly from the Late (Roman) Stoics and, to some degree, from George Santayana and other contemporary thinkers — to produce ‘stoic pragmatism’ as the title of one of his recent books announces (Stoic Pragmatism, 2012). On the one hand, Lachs rejects the Stoics’ metaphysics (with the notions of fatum and providentia as deterministic factors) and the Stoics’ theology/cosmology (with the notions of logos and pneuma as divine factors) in favour of: searching for wisdom, creating singular tasks for each of us with the awareness of our self-limitations and the need of renunciation on some occasions. On the other hand, he refers to the American pragmatism as philosophy that emphasizes the role of the melioristic activity that should be performed with joy and the sense of meaning and optimism.
Below, we invite all those participants who want to send us comments and questions on Lachs’s text.
Here is the material that includes John Lachs’s answers to the webinar questions: