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What I Require from Life: Summary & Exercise [Class-11]

In the essay "What I Require from Life," J.B.S. Haldane discusses his personal beliefs about what constitutes a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Summary of What I Require from Life

In the essay "What I Require from Life," J.B.S. Haldane discusses his personal beliefs about what constitutes a fulfilling and meaningful life. Haldane asserts that he has four general human needs: work, freedom, health, and friendship. He also expresses his desire for adventure and his love of risk-taking but notes that his love of adventure does not mean a love of thrills. Haldane also advocates for socialism and expresses his belief that under capitalism, workers do not benefit directly from their labor and instead see their work as a means of generating profits for others.

He desires a system in which workers are able to see the benefits of their labor in their own well-being and that of their friends and community. Haldane also discusses his personal experiences with war and revolution and his desire for the end of war as a major source of insecurity. Finally, Haldane expresses his hope for a future in which every healthy man and woman is able to work and in which there is no unemployment, as he sees unemployment as an essential feature of capitalism.

Understanding the text

Answer the following questions.

a. How does the writer distinguish between a peaceful age and a heroic age?

The writer distinguishes between a peaceful age and a heroic age by noting that he was born in a peaceful age but has been living in a heroic age since 1914 and sees no prospect of returning to a peaceful epoch.

b. Why does the writer want more freedom of speech than most people?

The writer wants more freedom of speech than most people because he wants to be able to criticize Lord Blank's newspapers, Mr Dash's pills, and Sir John Asterisk's beer, which he believes are poisonous, without being sued for libel.

c. According to the writer, what are the four general human needs?

According to the writer, the four general human needs are work, freedom, health, and friendship.

d. What is the difference between desire and demand according to the writer?

The writer distinguishes between desire and demand by stating that while he desires certain things, such as a room of his own with books, a motor car, and a daily bath, he only demands the four general human needs of work, freedom, health, and friendship.

e. Why does the writer demand security?

The writer demands security because he wants to see every healthy man and woman on the planet at work and wants the workers to see the fruit of their own work in their own and their friend's well-being. He also wants to see the end of the war, which he sees as a major source of insecurity.

Reference to the Context

Explain with reference to the context: “The satisfaction of adventure is something much more solid than a thrill.”

In the context of the essay "What I Require from Life," the writer notes that he enjoys adventure and cites his participation in wars and revolutions as examples of this. However, he clarifies that his love of adventure does not mean a love of thrills, as he experienced no thrills during his time in Madrid during the recent siege. Instead, the satisfaction of adventure is described as being "something much more solid" than a thrill. This likely means that the writer derives satisfaction from adventure that goes beyond the fleeting, intense feeling of excitement that is often associated with thrills. This satisfaction may come from the sense of accomplishment or personal growth that can come from facing challenges and overcoming them. It may also come from the sense of purpose or meaning that can come from participating in activities that are meaningful or important to the individual.

Explain with reference to the context: “I want the workers to see the fruit of their own work not in profits for others, but in their own and their friend’s well-being.”

In the context of the essay "What I Require from Life," the writer expresses his desire for workers to see the benefits of their labor in their own well-being and that of their friends, rather than in profits for others. This statement is made within the context of the writer's advocacy for socialism, which he supports because he believes it will address the issue of unemployment and allow workers to see the fruits of their labor in their own well-being. The writer suggests that under capitalism, workers often do not benefit directly from their labor and instead see their work as a means of generating profits for others. By contrast, under socialism, the writer envisions a system in which workers are able to see the direct benefits of their labor in their own lives and those of their friends and community.

Why do you think the essayist has taken reference from the ancient philosophers?

In my opinion, the essayist has taken reference from the ancient philosophers because he believes that Aristotle's ideas are still relevant and valuable today, or that he is using Aristotle's ideas as a point of comparison or contrast to his own views.

Discuss the essay in terms of its language, purpose, subject, point of view and mode of writing.

The essay "What I Require from Life" by J.B.S. Haldane is written in a relatively informal and conversational style, with the writer using personal pronouns and anecdotes to illustrate his points. The language is straightforward and easy to understand, with Haldane using clear and concise language to express his ideas.

The purpose of the essay appears to be to outline the writer's personal beliefs about what constitutes a fulfilling and meaningful life, as well as to advocate for his political views on socialism. The essay is centred on the writer's own experiences and views and does not attempt to present a comprehensive or objective overview of the topic.

The subject of the essay is the writer's own views on what he requires from life, including his desires and demands for work, freedom, health, friendship, and adventure. The essay also touches on the writer's views on capitalism, socialism, and the importance of workers seeing the benefits of their labor in their own well-being.

The point of view of the essay is the writer's own, as it is a personal reflection on his beliefs and experiences. The essay is written from a first-person perspective, with the writer using personal pronouns and expressing his own opinions and feelings throughout.

The mode of writing in the essay is primarily expository, as the writer is explaining and clarifying his own views and beliefs. However, the essay also includes some elements of persuasive writing, as the writer advocates for his views on socialism and expresses his desire for a world in which workers are able to see the benefits of their labor in their own well-being.

Reference Beyond the Text

What do you require from your life to be happy and satisfied?

Factors that contribute to my happiness and satisfaction include having meaningful work and relationships, feeling a sense of accomplishment and purpose, having good physical and mental health, and feeling a sense of security and stability.

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