Worldwide Happiness

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Reply Thu 1 May, 2008 03:02 am
Hi all,

I'm writing a book called "Worldwide Happiness - the necessity and ease of creating utopia." The first subchapter of the first chapter is called 'Happiness is the Meaning of Life'. At one point in it I mention that some scientists or materialists say that survival is the meaning of life. (Perhaps they were inspired by Dawkins' ideas in 'The Selfish Gene', which includes the idea that organisms are 'survival machines'.) I made a few comments about that, but my teacher said that I hadn't proved that the scientists were wrong. So do you know of any good arguments out there that simply and successfully critique the idea that survival is the meaning of life? What do you think of the following argument?

"It is axiomatic that living beings who continue to survive must be acting in ways that support survival. But it does not follow that the meaning of their lives is survival. I believe that the meaning of life is happiness. After performing their survival activities, animals move on to fun activities. For human beings, the conscious reason for any activity is happiness in one of its forms, and the reason people want to survive is so that they can enjoy life. Not many people wake in the morning looking forward to mere survival. Instead, we look forward to happiness."

Do you think this covers the issue sufficiently for me to move on to my idea of happiness being the meaning of life so that I can expand on the implications of that without getting bogged down in the survival issue?

Thanks.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Thu 1 May, 2008 03:49 am
@Martin Gifford,
I think neither happiness nor survival is the meaning of life. I think that the great spagetti monster provides me with the meaning of life. It does not need any argumentation because the great spaghetti monster told me so and therefore it is so.

In other words:
If you do profess to know anything about the meaning of life (for which we would need an objective place outside of life), then I'd say that it is not the statement, but the argumentation that is important. The statement we will never know of if it is true, you see.
 
de budding
 
Reply Thu 1 May, 2008 04:31 am
@Martin Gifford,
Well I'm going to challenge you further and suggest that there is no meaning of life to write to about; this is good because it invalidates evolutionary theory and survival of the fittest in regards to humanity. Evolution is irrelevant to humans as we have no need to survive, for example if I had a son born with a genetic mutation- let's say no eye sight, there is no opportunity or reason why this birth defect would shine as either a disability or as a subtle advantage, society would take care of him. From disabled parking spaces to the NHS, society is an all out war on evolution.

Humans essentially have free will and it certainly makes good sense to use this will to aim for happiness, and then global happiness. I think a much bigger problem for you is going to be describing how everyone can be happy without resorting to at least some ordering principle like, survival is of the fittest.

I think you could quite easily in argument cast aside evolutionary theory as a problem by demonstrating that it has no impact on humanity anymore for we have evolved past evolution. If someone does suggest that evolution has an impact on us, it is only because they have mistaken 'evolution' for a man-made ordering principle* (like education), which dictates similar results than that of evolution; for example, that people with degrees make more money than people with brooms and that people with more money are happier, healthier or whatever. But I'm sure that your book will be very preoccupied with those sorts of problems as you approach building your utopia.


Here some articles I found: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=23533

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survival_of_the_fittest#cite_note-8

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Darwinism

*I think the above article on social Darwinism might cover this point in a lot more detail.

Hope that there is some help there:D,
Dan.
 
chandler phil
 
Reply Thu 1 May, 2008 09:25 am
@de budding,
de_budding wrote:
Well I'm going to challenge you further and suggest that there is no meaning of life to write to about; this is good because it invalidates evolutionary theory and survival of the fittest in regards to humanity. Evolution is irrelevant to humans as we have no need to survive, for example if I had a son born with a genetic mutation- let's say no eye sight, there is no opportunity or reason why this birth defect would shine as either a disability or as a subtle advantage, society would take care of him. From disabled parking spaces to the NHS, society is an all out war on evolution.


I'm not sure about this. Although I would like to agree with you I just can't. I think a lot of people would argue that society is simply a natural outgrowth related to evolution. There are examples of "culture" and "society" in other animal lifeforms but we don't argue that they have somehow removed themselves from the evolutionary scheme. While it is true that people who would not have survived "in the wild" can do so now, I think it complicates the picture of human evolution rather than suggesting that humans are working against evolution. I'm sure some argument could be formulated about the importance of reciprocity and how that leads us to--seemingly--abnormal behavior that in actuality relates to our existence.

Quote:

I think you could quite easily in argument cast aside evolutionary theory as a problem by demonstrating that it has no impact on humanity anymore for we have evolved past evolution. If someone does suggest that evolution has an impact on us, it is only because they have mistaken 'evolution' for a man-made ordering principle* (like education),


Again I don't think you can do that. Evolutionary theory is too ubiquitous. The best way to argue for happiness is to argue through evolutionary theory (I think) because it simply is too credible. And the fact of the matter is that natural selection is still happening to humans--albeit at a decreased level (perhaps). People who have the most offspring are seeing the furtherance of their genes.

I don't think social darwinism is a good example of the problems of the evolution we're talking about. Social darwinism is only loosely related to true biological evolutionary theory and is susceptible to criticisms that biological evolutionary theory is not.

Also, do keep in mind that evolution is a process. Just because we can't see its effects right away (which I would argue is not always the case) doesn't mean it's not happening. Give it time. Very Happy


Martin Gifford wrote:

"It is axiomatic that living beings who continue to survive must be acting in ways that support survival. But it does not follow that the meaning of their lives is survival. I believe that the meaning of life is happiness. After performing their survival activities, animals move on to fun activities. For human beings, the conscious reason for any activity is happiness in one of its forms, and the reason people want to survive is so that they can enjoy life. Not many people wake in the morning looking forward to mere survival. Instead, we look forward to happiness."



I think you're fighting an uphill battle but I would love to see how this develops.

As far as the difference between people ensuring their survival and then going on to activities that are fun...it's surprising that one of the most "fun" activities (at least it's a universal thing that everyone does that a lot of people find enjoyable) is sex, something inextricably linked to survival.

I think the biggest objection to anything you're going to say is that whatever this other "thing" is that people are pursuing, it's ultimately just a veil that covers the true--perhaps subconscious/unconscious--motive, which is survival.

I think the one thing that can be said is that from a personal standpoint people pursue happiness and not their own survival (even though that may be the unconscious aim). As far as sex goes, imagine one person has sex because it's fun and one person doesn't have sex because it's not fun. Neither one of these people are concerned with their survival/the furtherance of their genes (and it is the case that most people don't think about survival and genes when they have sex). So who furthers his genes? the person that has sex for fun. So then the people down the line have sex for fun, and it is genuinely fun for them. When they pursue it, they are pursuing happiness (for all intents). But there is still that underlying element of their disposition to pursue it. And the only reason they have that disposition is because it was a disposition which ensured their survival/existence.

I hope I've helped.
 
No0ne
 
Reply Thu 1 May, 2008 07:16 pm
@Martin Gifford,
There are about 7bil people on this earth... and they all dont share the same point of view of what there utopia would be...

Therefore it will allways create problem's in bringing a single form of utopia to this world... for not all people see thing's as you might see them, for there perception is difrent from your's... this is allso what has created every war that has ever been... Miss perception and lack of respect of another's point of view of a subject (god,how2live life,what to do and not do) those kind of thing's...

Only thing your book will do for the world, is put more green into those pocket's of your's ^^, just try to share ^.^
 
Martin Gifford
 
Reply Fri 2 May, 2008 02:51 am
@No0ne,
Arjen, I agree we cannot know what the meaning of life is. I say that it is happiness because that's what I observe people seeking. Even asking, "What is the meaning of life?" seems to me to imply a quest for happiness!

Dan/de_budding, I think happiness itself is the ordering principle. Essentially, everyone should be free to do what they like to do so long as it doesn't hurt anyone. And we should provide education and opportunity so we can create happiness.

Chandler, I'm trying to avoid getting bogged down in the idea that survival is the meaning of life, but I do need to address it as briefly, yet as effectively, as possible. Does my argument do it? I agree that sex is an interesting example. It seems to me that in emergencies we just do it minimally, but when we have free time, we explore its greater potential. Same with food, which develops from slops to gourmet. Same with housing, which develops from cave to mansion. These developments seem to me to be more about happiness than survival, and certainly the conscious meaning we have applied to them is happiness, rather than survival. Is that enough to satisfy scientists/materialists?

NoOne, I wouldn't promote a rigid system for utopia. I think utopia is peace and liberty, which allows for infinite variety.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Fri 2 May, 2008 03:37 am
@Martin Gifford,
Hi Martin, I would like to ask you if you know aristotle's virtue ethics and if you Kant's ethical formulations of the hypothetical and categorical imperative
 
de budding
 
Reply Fri 2 May, 2008 07:42 am
@Martin Gifford,
What do should I assume happiness to be like? Is happiness the fulfilment of some sort of life goal, where happiness is the end product we chase to achieve. Therefore worldwide happiness would be a result of allowing everyone the means to pursue and complete that personal goal. Or, if someone asked me 'where would I ideally want to be', or 'what is my life goal', would it be sufficient to answer 'happy/happiness'?
Also what would you political means be to create a utopia? I'm currently reading Aristotle's Politics so it would be very intriguing to know if any one had any ideas about the structure of the perfect utopian state.
Dan.

 
Martin Gifford
 
Reply Sun 4 May, 2008 03:06 am
@de budding,
Arjen, Worldwide happiness is inclusive, so no one is excluded or labelled 'bad' or 'wrong'. Generally, we move towards what makes us happy anyway, so we just need to remove impediments. I don't think we have to impose or idealise happiness (which would create its opposite), we only have to notice the natural movement towards happiness then help it.

De_budding/Dan, I think utopia is where everyone experiences mostly peace and liberty. Perhaps it's impossible for everyone to be happy all the time, but in the same way we can say we come from a happy home that is imperfect, we can say we come from a happy planet that is imperfect.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Sun 4 May, 2008 03:47 am
@Martin Gifford,
Martin Gifford wrote:
Arjen, Worldwide happiness is inclusive, so no one is excluded or labelled 'bad' or 'wrong'. Generally, we move towards what makes us happy anyway, so we just need to remove impediments. I don't think we have to impose or idealise happiness (which would create its opposite), we only have to notice the natural movement towards happiness then help it.

The thing of it is, Martin, that actually striving for world wide happiness excludes world wide happiness. I would like to ask again to studythe following thoughts before addressing this point further:
aristotle's virtue ethics
Kant's ethical formulations
hypothetical
categorical imperative
 
Martin Gifford
 
Reply Tue 6 May, 2008 03:12 am
@Arjen,
Arjen, I take ages to understand philosophers and when I finally succeed, I quickly and easily find a counterargument that defeats their assertions. This has happened so many times, that I've seen a pattern where they create boxes, which I can open because I don't see the logical mind as having the answers to life, whereas they do. Logic as a trap when you believe it holds the answer to life's questions. It is only a tool, and a very limited one at that.

You say that striving for worldwide happiness excludes worldwide happiness. On the face of it, it is an untrue assertion. It is the same as saying that striving to send a rocket into space excludes sending a rocket into space, when the opposite is the case.

You mention the issue of subjective definitions of happiness. That's solved by letting everyone do what they like so long as they don't hurt themselves or others.

The issue of good or bad is an unnecessary abstraction. We all want to be happy and the way to that is by creating a happy world. There's no need to go into good vs bad or morality or anything else. We can deal with the issues directly.

Regarding the issue of treating others the way you would like to be treated yourself: even that is a strategy. Instead of happiness being an issue of morality, it is an issue of "what works". Once you understand that competing with others, or hurting others, makes you unhappy, you will stop doing it.

I'm happy to continue the conversation about Kant if you paraphrase his relevant idea simply so that I can reply quickly and easily. But I don't want to struggle to read his ideas, then struggle to apply them to my ideas, then counter them in order to tell you about that process. If you think worldwide happiness is impossible then explain why in a sentence or two, and I'll find a convincing counterargument easily, but I'm not going to wade through Kant's books or any long arguments, especially since the rocket and subjectivity arguments above satisfy me already.

BTW, my original post is not related to the questions you raise and the topics you want me to pursue. My original question was a request for help about covering the issue of scientists saying we do everything for survival rather than happiness.

Thanks for your time and replies.

Martin Gifford.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Tue 6 May, 2008 11:31 am
@Martin Gifford,
Martin Gifford wrote:
Arjen, I take ages to understand philosophers and when I finally succeed, I quickly and easily find a counterargument that defeats their assertions. This has happened so many times, that I've seen a pattern where they create boxes, which I can open because I don't see the logical mind as having the answers to life, whereas they do. Logic as a trap when you believe it holds the answer to life's questions. It is only a tool, and a very limited one at that.

We see eye to eye on this point.

Quote:

You say that striving for worldwide happiness excludes worldwide happiness. On the face of it, it is an untrue assertion. It is the same as saying that striving to send a rocket into space excludes sending a rocket into space, when the opposite is the case.

You miss my point. I can understand you do; it is not easily understood.

Quote:

You mention the issue of subjective definitions of happiness. That's solved by letting everyone do what they like so long as they don't hurt themselves or others.

That would be along the lines of Kant's ethics. I agree to a large degree; although I would like to point out that there are overlapping situations such as self defense or people who like to be humiliated and such.

Quote:

The issue of good or bad is an unnecessary abstraction. We all want to be happy and the way to that is by creating a happy world. There's no need to go into good vs bad or morality or anything else. We can deal with the issues directly.

I think you'll find that a very hard thing, when people are aloowed a voice in this.. Smile

Quote:

Regarding the issue of treating others the way you would like to be treated yourself: even that is a strategy. Instead of happiness being an issue of morality, it is an issue of "what works". Once you understand that competing with others, or hurting others, makes you unhappy, you will stop doing it.

Some people like hurting others unfortunately.

Quote:

I'm happy to continue the conversation about Kant if you paraphrase his relevant idea simply so that I can reply quickly and easily. But I don't want to struggle to read his ideas, then struggle to apply them to my ideas, then counter them in order to tell you about that process. If you think worldwide happiness is impossible then explain why in a sentence or two, and I'll find a convincing counterargument easily, but I'm not going to wade through Kant's books or any long arguments, especially since the rocket and subjectivity arguments above satisfy me already.

I think world wide happiness is possible.
I don't think striving for it will create it; it will create world wide unhappiness.
I still stress you read Kant; or at the very leas follow the link I have placed. It leads to a very compact explanation of his work by my hand.
Please do read up on matters such as Kant's ethics because it illustrates why striving towards a certain goal cannot work out. "Goals" in fact are the whole problem.

Quote:

BTW, my original post is not related to the questions you raise and the topics you want me to pursue. My original question was a request for help about covering the issue of scientists saying we do everything for survival rather than happiness.

I think it of greater importance to read up on the matters I have been pointing out. Apart from that I would concerm myself with trying to prove that survival is the meaning of life. I'd say no such claim can ever be proven. So basing a theory on this seems a bit strange. Check out Hume's is-ought problem.

Quote:

Thanks for your time and replies.

Martin Gifford.

You're welcome and I hope you read up on some of the matters I have been pointing out. You would do yourself a great favor I think.

Smile
 
Martin Gifford
 
Reply Tue 13 May, 2008 01:54 am
@Arjen,
 
pqzod
 
Reply Tue 13 May, 2008 06:45 am
@Arjen,
Hello all

Utopia-one man's heaven is another man's hell. i would say that you can only suggest what makes you happy & not assume that should work for others.

if you are unhappy, does this mean that you are then meaningless? Similarly,if a species dies out(ceases survival), was it a complete waste of time?

if you had the choice between 10 years of happiness or 20 of misery, what would you choose? With a little imagination on the misery thing and me as Misery Master, i would certainly choose happiness over survival. is it possible to survive with no possibility of happiness?

Why does life, action, thought have to have meaning? To have no beliefs or no need for certainty makes me happy; the world then is full of possibilities.

i say just write the book. You'll disagree with yourself given long enough. if you make a few people happier, you will have achieved your goal. i don't think you'll make too many less happy.

Thanks for the references Arjen.

PQ
 
Resha Caner
 
Reply Tue 13 May, 2008 07:30 am
@pqzod,
Very interesting.

I don't know that Martin needs to read the suggested material (though it wouldn't hurt). He is right that he'll find a way to argue against it if he looks hard enough.

But merely the fact that a debate is happening raises an objection that everyone is looking for this same "happiness" he claims.

Maybe we could force people to be happy. :mad:
 
yebiga
 
Reply Tue 13 May, 2008 08:52 am
@Arjen,
Happiness...is such a subjective word that as a purpose it is meaningless. you might as well state, the purpose of life is X.

But the real problem is with the question. The need to find a purpose in the absence of any. The absurdity of life, its profound mystery and our presence is an intolerable contemplation. We fill that vacuum with every thing sublime and ridiculous. The entire human chronicle is either an attempt fill that void or to distract ourselves from its oppression.

Lately, we have got really good at distracting ourselves. This approach is not quite as high brow as evolutionary theory; as emotive as god and country, or as well meaning as family and friends. It does have the advantage of probably being less toxic in the short term at least.

In short, our purpose is to find a purpose.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Tue 13 May, 2008 09:00 am
@Martin Gifford,
Martin Gifford wrote:

Didi you understand the point that it is because one has a goal in mind that person is busy with what to do instead of how to do something. The difference is that between act and intent. That difference translates itself to goal and duty in philosophy. I guess the terms don't really matter. What does matter is that by thinking of a certain goal one tends to act accorddingly. Seeing as a goal proves a certain "rulebase" of things that are nice and not nice one excludes certain things and thereby certain people. That is why such a thing can never create world wide happiness. Because a "rulebase" is formed and consulted certain people will always be defined as "not nice". The exception is when that "rulebase" is empty and one effectively claims everything is "nice". That is what moral skepticism amounts to. To me a more realistic view is that by adoptingthe "duty" view everybody can change their own actions and thus learning from their mistakes. That way we only have to wonder about peoples intentions and therefore allow peopel to learn because we would like to be judged on our intentions as well instead of on our mistakes.

Hope this helps.
 
Martin Gifford
 
Reply Wed 14 May, 2008 02:15 am
@Arjen,
Arjen wrote:
What does matter is that by thinking of a certain goal one tends to act accorddingly. Seeing as a goal proves a certain "rulebase" of things that are nice and not nice one excludes certain things and thereby certain people. That is why such a thing can never create world wide happiness. Because a "rulebase" is formed and consulted certain people will always be defined as "not nice". The exception is when that "rulebase" is empty and one effectively claims everything is "nice". That is what moral skepticism amounts to. To me a more realistic view is that by adoptingthe "duty" view everybody can change their own actions and thus learning from their mistakes. That way we only have to wonder about peoples intentions and therefore allow peopel to learn because we would like to be judged on our intentions as well instead of on our mistakes.


We can start with the goal, which in this case is worldwide happiness, and then we think of the method separately.

You are describing one thing that doesn't work (the rulebase) and one thing that might work (duty and learning from mistakes).

My view is that the core method is understanding what works and what doesn't work, and then spreading that understanding. Of course, learning from mistakes (our own and others) is part of understanding, and straightforward thinking is another part of it.

I think we are pretty much agreeing now.
 
Arjen
 
Reply Wed 14 May, 2008 02:41 am
@Martin Gifford,
Martin Gifford wrote:
We can start with the goal, which in this case is worldwide happiness, and then we think of the method separately.

You are describing one thing that doesn't work (the rulebase) and one thing that might work (duty and learning from mistakes).

My view is that the core method is understanding what works and what doesn't work, and then spreading that understanding. Of course, learning from mistakes (our own and others) is part of understanding, and straightforward thinking is another part of it.

I think we are pretty much agreeing now.

No, we have not come one step closer.

In my example no rulebase is present. In your example a very large one I bet. You name: "worldwide happiness", with a further defining through: "what works". This knowledge you want to spread. The problem is that among the things that work and don't work are thing that other people see the other way around. Once that becomes apparent the "spreading of the good word" becomes problematic. Hitler encountered much the same problem when the Jews dicided that maybe they didn't want to be burnt or gassed to death because that is what Hitler's rulebase dictated would make the beginning of "worldwide happiness". The pope encountered something like that when deciding that "worlwide happiness" would come a step closer when "the holy land" was in Christian hands". Heck, George Bush encounered it when he decided that "worlwide happiness" would come a step closer if the entire middleeast were invaded by American troops.

I hope you are beginning to see my point on rulebases.
 
de budding
 
Reply Wed 14 May, 2008 08:13 am
@Arjen,
Martin,
When you said 'I quickly and easily find a counterargument that defeats [philosophers] assertions.' Did you really mean that, or was it perhaps more to do with you being so attached to your own assertions that you won't even entertain those of others? This would explain why the obnoxious comment preceded 'I take ages to understand philosophers'.

Without being rude I'm trying to warn you that Arjens assertions seem to be poo poo'd when they really represent the biggest hurdle you will have to face.

My Grandfather would always assert that you don't discuss such matters without genuinely considering changing your own mind, if not your just here to change our minds. So even for the sake of fairness I would suggest honestly applying opposing philosophy to your own train of thought.

One question- If you can 'quickly and easily find a counterargument that defeats [philosophers] assertions.' how do you fare against the average joe?

Dan.
 
 

 
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