Chapter 7 return to philosophy through video games web page
Epilogue: Video Games and the Meaning of Life

7A Key Words
7B Key Arguments
7C Cool Links
7D Discussion Questions
7A Key Words return to top 

6B Key Arguments return to top 

The Autonomy Argument

6C Cool Links return to top
  1. Jon Cogburn’s Blog, “updated list of (Jungian arche-)types of irritating professors,” (accessed December 3, 2007).
  2. Al Hensel “Conway’s Game of Life,” (accessed December 4, 2007).
6D Discussion Questions return to top

1. Give examples of different kinds of role playing that people engage in at different periods of their lives (from childhood to old age). To what extent does role playing force people to be inauthentic, insincere, or dishonest?

2. Briefly present Plato and Nietzsche's criticisms of actors. The discuss the extent to which their complaints apply to the kind of role playing you discussed in the previous question. [Section 7.3]

3. Briefly summarize Jung's worry about personas being unhealthy (from Section 7.3.1). Again, discuss the extent to which his complaint applies to the kind of role playing discussed by you in the answer to the first question.

4. Using the authors' discussion, explain and evaluate The Autonomy Argument. [Sections 7.3.2 and 7.3.3]

5. Explain and evaluate the Aristotelian conception of people having proper functions. Aristotle thought that the primary human function was contemplation, or the development of learning and wisdom. Present the best argument you can for that conclusion. Then present the best argument you can for the conclusion that different kinds of people might have different functions. Finally (on the assumption that people have proper functions) defend one of the conclusions of the two arguments over the other. [Section 7.4]

6. How plausible is the existentialist claim that our radical freedom undermines the Aristotelian idea that people have proper functions. [Section 7.15]

7. The authors argue that biological evolution to some extent presents us with something like Aristotelian proper functions while leisure time presents us with existentialist freedom to make meanings. explain and evaluate (note that both Aristotle and the existentialists would reject this; think of why they might do some; do research!). [Sections 7.6 and 7.7]

8. When most people talk about "the meaning of life" they often make little direct reference to either Darwinian evolution or the kind of freedom afforded by leisure time. What have the authors left out? To what extent might the metaphysics of Jewish/Christian/Muslim mono-theism or Eastern traditions such as Buddhism or Hindu Yoga add to this picture? Are they consistent with it (hint: science and leisure take place inside of time, but all of the religious/philosophical traditions to some extent situate part of ourselves outside of time)? Do some research on the metaphysical views of members of these traditions and present it here with appropriate citations! [In their own defense, the authors would like to note that the monks, theologians, and philosophers who developed these views all had enough leisure time to engage in Aristotelian contemplation.]

9. The authors argue that our preference for stories are founded upon the similarities between the narrative structure of stories and real life. Briefly outline the plot of some great "hero's journey" narratives (e.g. The Golden Compass, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, The Legend of Zelda, The Ten Commandments, Sparticus, Ben Hur, Elder Scrolls, Diablo, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle) and a quest within that narrative. Then describe a quest from your own life (e.g. purchasing ice cream, winning the heart of your beloved, making your parents proud, putting up with visiting in-laws, getting a good grade). Finally, retell this quest so that its narrative is structurally analogous to the literary quest you first described. Be funny! [Section 7.3.3]