Analysis Of Bernard Williams's Theory Of Conditional Desire

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Bernard Williams was a twentieth-century philosopher, most notable for his theory that attempts to examine the principles of death and desire. His theory is strongly centered on opposition to the existentialist idea that our inevitable death makes our life meaningless. To begin with, Williams makes an important distinction of the nature of desire by organizing the concept into two distinct categories. A conditional desire is something we look forward to in the future or as we get older, if we have enough time to do it. However, conditional desires do not give a person purpose or meaning and it doesn’t reduce someone’s interest or will to live. Instead, it is treated more as a luxury, something that would be nice to have or do, but
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William fails to understand that as mentioned earlier, over the span of a human life we constantly change our views and goals. The different stages and experiences constantly provided over one’s human lifespan often alter or completely change our decisions and instead offer new ones. William had commented that immortality is too big of a window and our changes only occur in a lifespan of relatively short duration. However, immortality does not only promise a continuation of existence, but it also provides humans with the chance to constantly adapt to our situation and environment. Over the course of history, innovations have proved successful in creating more technological advances and along with it more opportunities to explore. With the changes a society faces over time, we make new discoveries and opportunities open to explore unimaginable new interests we cannot conceive as of yet. The changes in conditions will essentially create more interests along with our desires to fulfill them, eliminating this idea of boredom though repetitively fulfilling categorical …show more content…
In the story to which William draws from, EM is the only immortal person living among humans with regular life spans, so his analogy cannot be applied to everyone. The experiences faced by EM were faced by her alone, so although she was not able to physically die, she was witness to many deaths over the three centuries she lived. This shows that Williams argument does not provide sufficient reasons for EM’s decision to cease her immortality as she was exposed to the death of countless people. These experiences were not of the same nature, if everyone was immortal and death wasn’t a common byproduct of the environment. Therefore, EM’s experiences and her “growing cold and indifferent to life” is not a strong premise that provides support for Williams conclusion (Jacobsen;

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