Action and Virtue

Robert George in the April edition of the magazine First Things makes a case for limited government that relies on an Aristotelian view of human flourishing. For Aristotle, he says, "flourishing consists in doing things, not just in getting things, or having desirable or pleasant experiences, or having things done for you." You have to act to be well. Active entertainment is better for people than passive entertainment.

To do things in games would probably not be accorded the same respect by Aristotle as to do them in real life, I suppose. Not at first glance anyway. On the other hand, with real life as systematized as it is, and so loaded with powerful incentives, can we truly say that the average person has significant scope of action there? Whereas game designers as I heard today are planning entire worlds that respond organically to what we do. Moreover, the most significant actions we take are and always have been social and local: spouses and children and friends.

We flourish better playing games than watching TV. But real life is better than both, because it has touch. Of course, some day the games on computers will become the game of daily life; we will one day be playing games with touch. I hope this development helps people flourish better than they do now.


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