‘If a list could be made of all the things that are valuable for their own sake, these things would be the ingredients of a life worth living’.
J. Glover, Causing Death and Saving Life, p.51.
I think most of us have the concept of a life worth living at least in our own cases. I mean that we have an idea of what would make our own lives worth living, and what would take away that. These things include all the activities that we currently enjoy doing for their own sake.
What does it meant to do something for its own sake? Well all of us at times have to do things that we don’t particularly enjoy or want to do, but we do them in order to achieve some other goal. For instance take a common household chore like doing the laundry or dishes, many people do these chores because they have the goal of having clean clothes and dishes not because they find the activity of washing clothes and dishes enjoyable for its self. When we are doing something for its own sake we are doing it because the activity we are engaged in is the end goal for us.
If what makes life worthwhile is doing something or some set of activities that are end goals in themselves then if we knew all the sorts of things are worth doing in themselves then we would know all the sorts of things that make life worthwhile for people.
Such a list would surely be disputable if we thought that it must apply to all people since people vary and have different goals and what they take enjoyment out of differs. Yet it is likely that we can identify common elements if we describe them in very broad terms.