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I've noticed in at least a few A/N posts people mentioning that there is a difference between surviving and thriving. No one has stated what that difference is but it seems a common idea that there is a difference and that it matters. One can infer that it is better to thrive than merely survive but the difference between the two states is bound to be subjective.

If food, water, shelter and community are all that are needed to survive, is thriving then only a qualitative measure of that survival? Does good food, good water, and good shelter mean you are thriving? Is there a cognitive measure to one's ability to thrive? Meaning does a thriving person also/instead need some preferred mental state or social condition? Can a person thrive on bread and water in a tent in the woods as long as they are happy or with someone they love?

The reason for this post is that it appears as though some people believe that to thrive is merely a qualitative state of survival while others seem to say that there is more to it. I've already assumed that there will be consensus on the idea that to thrive is much better than mere survival. So the big question is how do you measure whether someone is thriving or merely surviving? And does everyone (the totality of the human race=everyone) deserve to thrive?

Tags: moral, philosophy, questions, survival

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Survival is the ability to maintain life. It differs from thriving in that most of one's productivity is engaged in meeting this end (one can not be productive in other ways), or there simply are inadequate resources to rise above a level of survival.

Thriving is when all one's basic needs for survival are met and one still has the capacity to engage one's productivity in endeavours unrelated to mere survival; endeavours that bring enjoyment and satisfaction. In that way, there is indeed a cognitive element to the concept of thriving.

One also has to have the means of access to such endeavours, which can be stifled either through financial poverty or restrictions (overt or covert) placed on classes of people.

Measures of thriving will vary. There is no hard and fast rule, where one side of the line is surviving and the other side is thriving.

No one deserves to thrive, for it is not a matter of deserving or not deserving. It's the wrong question. People, and societies, that rise above a level of survival and move into thriving are better off. It is related to liberty, in that greater liberty encourages greater productivity and, therefore, greater flourishing and thriving. Which in turn leads to greater happiness and a reduction in harm.
"No one deserves to thrive, for it is not a matter of deserving or not deserving. It's the wrong question."

Yeah, sorry. That was a stupid question.

The question should be, Does society have a moral imperative to ensure the survival of it's members? And if so, does that imperative extend to ensuring that societies members thrive?

I understand that modern civilization grants a very large number of people the opportunity to thrive in certain societies. Without the cooperation of everyone these societies would be unable to maintain their levels of survival above the baseline. Therefore a cooperative society needs its members to thrive in order for the society itself to thrive. To me, that means that yes I have a moral imperative to ensure not only that I thrive but that others in my society thrive as well. Kind of like the saying, "A man can only truly be free when everyone else is too."

So do you, Stephen, think that liberty is the largest factor in the difference between thriving and survival?
Not exactly a stupid question. "Deserving" is prevalent meme in the Anglosphere, so it's bound to pop up in places where it's not wanted. Give it a good talking to and it'll slink back where it belongs.

I'm not sure I would say that liberty is the largest factor, but I do think it is foundational. Liberal societies can still encounter a great deal of lack of thriving because of economics or social mores.

To me, that means that yes I have a moral imperative to ensure not only that I thrive but that others in my society thrive as well.

Essentially, I agree. Communities operate better when they act as communities, as distinct from communities merely being a collection of individuals. But there is that balance to be found between community good and individual good. I do lean towards promoting individual good, but certainly not to the point of Libertarianism.

However, I would reword your statement slightly. The moral imperative is not to ensure that others thrive, but that they have the opportunity to thrive. It is their life, after all, and their freedom to choose how they live their life. If an individual chooses not to take advantage of the opportunities, for whatever reason, fine. But the opportunities are their if they want to make use of them.


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