Happiness, what is it really?

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hue-man
 
Reply Tue 21 Apr, 2009 07:19 pm
@EmperorNero,
NoEmperorNero wrote:
I don't necessarily disagree with you, this is just what sounds reasonable to assume at the moment.
My question to the alternative is: What else should happiness be good for?

In everything that makes us modern humans happy, I can see a reason for why that would increase a primitive humans chance of survival.
And in many cases still does today.
Or rather the other way around: We are still around because what made us happy, is what made us survive.
I think that notion is called neo-darwinism.

You noted that a more comfortable lifestyle makes humans happy, and I agree. Maybe one of the most important ways primitive humans survived was by conserving energy. Whether that means to shun effort, to not be out of breath when danger approaches. Or to limit actions that require more nutrition, through the largest extent of human history, getting enough food was the biggest concern. So a primitive human, that is happy from conserving energy is likely to have successors.

So it looks to me as if the cynical view stands pretty firm. Please poke holes with other examples.



Yes, I meant the people around you. You are happy to be with your friends and family, because in the old times, having a strong tribe made you more likely to survive.


I pretty much agree with everything you said. This sounds like descriptive ethics to me. I was just making the point that it's a little more complex than that now because of our post-neolithic lifestyle and environment.

If by cynical you mean the philosophers of ancient Greece, then their philosophy was not related to what you're saying. They had some good points about the corruption in their societal system, but they were really extreme with the ecological primitivism and asceticism. If by cynical you mean an attitude of scornful negativity, then I also don't believe that you are cynical in this regard. You're just using anthropological facts to aid you in the study of ethics.

Do you think that reproducing is a major part of being happy, because I'm not so sure that I want any children?
 
EmperorNero
 
Reply Tue 21 Apr, 2009 08:06 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man;59302 wrote:
If by cynical you mean an attitude of scornful negativity, then I also don't believe that you are cynical in this regard. You're just using anthropological facts to aid you in the study of ethics.


That's what I meant.
But I'm not sure if I consider that a study of ethics.
I was expressing my impression of the nature of happiness, and not whether that makes it good or bad.
If you want to hear my opinion on the ethical aspect of it, I would say happiness has little to do with right or wrong.

hue-man;59302 wrote:
Do you think that reproducing is a major part of being happy, because I'm not so sure that I want any children?


Hard question. As a quick answer, yes, that's pretty much the reason you are here. But I'm not arguing that it's a responsibility, I'm explaining why humans should want it.
Of course it will bring obligations and make ones life harder. So if you only count pure day to day happiness, having children means a decrease in happiness. There was a study recently, that showed that couples are happier if they didn't have kids. But life is not about just maximizing pleasure, that leads to apathy. It's about getting to do the hard things, that are the most rewarding.
This simple pleasure calculation is like saying, if you don't climb Mount Everest, you have less frostbites, so you are happier. Which is true, but I bet once you stand on the top and look down, you're quite happy you did it.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 08:36 am
@EmperorNero,
NoEmperorNero wrote:
That's what I meant.
But I'm not sure if I consider that a study of ethics.
I was expressing my impression of the nature of happiness, and not whether that makes it good or bad.
If you want to hear my opinion on the ethical aspect of it, I would say happiness has little to do with right or wrong.


Ethics is not only about right and wrong, in the sense of how you should treat other people. It's also about how you should conduct yourself in order to live a good life. That aspect of ethics has been clouded by deontology and utilitarianism but virtue ethics is making a come back.
 
EmperorNero
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 09:08 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;59380 wrote:
Ethics is not only about right and wrong, in the sense of how you should treat other people. It's also about how you should conduct yourself in order to live a good life.


I agree, but I don't understand how that is contradicting what I expressed. Please correct me if I misunderstand.
Deontology does not only guide your interactions with others, it guides every action.

hue-man;59380 wrote:
That aspect of ethics has been clouded by deontology and utilitarianism but virtue ethics is making a come back.


Please explain. I don't fully see the difference between doing something because it's right and doing something because of virtues.
 
Dylan phil
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 09:41 am
@Seriost,
Happiness in my words and opinion would be a state of emotion that overcomes all problems that you have and helps you forget the bad things that are happening in your life. Basically "pulling wool over your eyes."

Seriost wrote:
When you're at your "friends" house and you have this feeling of love and "happiness" (whatever that is).


Yes, I think that usually you will be able to feel happiness when you are in the company of friends, family, or someone you wish to get to know better. This would be because you are in the presence of someone who most likely wants you to be there and you aren't there because you have to be, or because you're being forced to be.

Seriost wrote:
It always ends by the time you have to leave or go home, doesnt it? Instead you're filled with hate or frustration.


Whenever I leave a friends house or someone I wanted to spend some more time with, I just being thinking about what all I said that day and what all we did. I have to take the time to look back and analyse what was done and said. I may be filled with "hate" or "frustration" if I notice something I hadn't before; such as a smart remark that was meant in a bad way, et cetera.

Seriost wrote:
So, my parents tell me that instead of letting the sadness be you're normal state, you let the happiness be that... But that just clings wrong with me.


I wouldn't let happiness be a state of emotion be something to always be in. You will miss things that should have normally stuck out like a airplane exploding in mid-air. You need to be in a somewhat neutral state to be able to interpret some things that you would most likely miss if you were just in an emotional state of happiness.. though this may not be everyone, but it is just my viewpoint of things such as this.

Seriost wrote:
You make an illusion that you're life is good, but when you find out why you take em' you get more depressed.


This is where my theory goes somewhat. No need for an illusion; just take life head on and deal with it.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 09:43 am
@EmperorNero,
NoEmperorNero wrote:
I agree, but I don't understand how that is contradicting what I expressed. Please correct me if I misunderstand.
Deontology does not only guide your interactions with others, it guides every action.


You said -- "But I'm not sure if I consider that a study of ethics.
I was expressing my impression of the nature of happiness, and not whether that makes it good or bad.
If you want to hear my opinion on the ethical aspect of it, I would say happiness has little to do with right or wrong."

I interpreted that as you saying that happiness has little to do with ethics, and I was saying that it does and it was a very important part of ethics before the debate between deontology and utilitarianism. Utilitarianism does, however, entail the happiness for the greatest number. Statements of value are underpinned by emotive forces, and so happiness is a good.

NoEmperorNero wrote:
Please explain. I don't fully see the difference between doing something because it's right and doing something because of virtues.


Well virtues are considered to be such because of their tendency or capacity for good outcomes. Right is the accordance of a decision or outcome with ultimate goodness (not just proximate goodness). Deontology and utilitarianism put less focus on one's individual happiness and more emphasis on how you should treat other people.
 
EmperorNero
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 09:53 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;59398 wrote:
You said -- "But I'm not sure if I consider that a study of ethics.
I was expressing my impression of the nature of happiness, and not whether that makes it good or bad.
If you want to hear my opinion on the ethical aspect of it, I would say happiness has little to do with right or wrong."

I interpreted that as you saying that happiness has little to do with ethics, and I was saying that it does and it was a very important part of ethics before the debate between deontology and utilitarianism. Utilitarianism does, however, entail the happiness for the greatest number. Statements of value are underpinned by emotive forces, and so happiness is a good.


All right, but I disagree with you. The acquisition of happiness does not navigate morality.
For example murder would not be moral if it makes murderer more happy, and the victim didn't care.
Murder would however be moral in case of self defense.

hue-man;59398 wrote:
Well virtues are considered to be such because of their tendency or capacity for good outcomes. Right is the accordance of a decision or outcome with ultimate goodness (not just proximate goodness).


So the point of virtue ethics is creating happiness, like consequentialism?
Does that mean that the ethical actions you make, define you as a person?
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 10:13 am
@EmperorNero,
NoEmperorNero wrote:
All right, but I disagree with you. The acquisition of happiness does not navigate morality.
For example murder would not be moral if it makes murderer more happy, and the victim didn't care.
Murder would however be moral in case of self defense.



So the point of virtue ethics is creating happiness, like consequentialism?
Does that mean that the ethical actions you make, define you as a person?


Well I agree that happiness is not synonymous with good actions, and so one cannot base their moral treatment of others on their individual happiness alone. In order for an action to be moral it must be universal and impartial.

The point of virtue ethics is not really to create happiness. The point is to build the moral character of the agent in order to better help guide their decisions and actions. Character ultimately does define who you are as a person.
 
EmperorNero
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 11:04 am
@hue-man,
hue-man;59407 wrote:
Well I agree that happiness is not synonymous with good actions, and so one cannot base their moral treatment of others on their individual happiness alone. In order for an action to be moral it must be universal and impartial.

The point of virtue ethics is not really to create happiness. The point is to build the moral character of the agent in order to better help guide their decisions and actions. Character ultimately does define who you are as a person.


If not happiness, what decides morality? Universal and impartial to what end?

So should we act morally to have a moral character or should we have the a moral character to act morally?
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 12:06 pm
@EmperorNero,
NoEmperorNero wrote:
If not happiness, what decides morality? Universal and impartial to what end?

So should we act morally to have a moral character or should we have the a moral character to act morally?


Universal and impartial to the end that it achieves the good for all similar beings and valuers.

Should we act morally to have a moral character or should we have a moral character to act morally? That's a chicken and the egg problem. I would say both.
 
EmperorNero
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 12:19 pm
@Seriost,
What is "the good"?

I would call that circular logic. Smile What's the point?
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 12:49 pm
@EmperorNero,
NoEmperorNero wrote:
What is "the good"?

I would call that circular logic. Smile What's the point?


It's not circular logic. I think that you're reducing everything I say in order to try and get to a singular point. Either that or you're trying to drive me insane. Good is being pleasant or appealing in experience.
 
EmperorNero
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 01:10 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man;59430 wrote:
Universal and impartial to the end that it achieves the good for all similar beings and valuers.


NoEmperorNero;59434 wrote:
What is "the good"?


hue-man;59443 wrote:
Good is being pleasant or appealing in experience.


:poke-eye:

What I wanted to get to the bottom of is what virtue ethics considers moral. You pretty much describe one relative term with another.
I don't quite get that. But I have not read up on it. What is the point of virtue ethics, if it's not happiness?
For consequentialists, it's all about happiness. And deontology does only cound the action itself, so it goes around that question. But what about virtue ethics?
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 03:43 pm
@EmperorNero,
EmperorNero wrote:
:poke-eye:

What I wanted to get to the bottom of is what virtue ethics considers moral. You pretty much describe one relative term with another.
I don't quite get that. But I have not read up on it. What is the point of virtue ethics, if it's not happiness?
For consequentialists, it's all about happiness. And deontology does only cound the action itself, so it goes around that question. But what about virtue ethics?


:poke-eye:

I already said what virtue ethics was for. The point is to build the moral character of the agent in order to better help guide their decisions and actions. The idea is that by practicing virtue, one is more likely to achieve happiness for themselves and for others. So happiness is a big part of it, but not the main function. Please tell me I've answered your question?
 
EmperorNero
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 03:49 pm
@Seriost,
Alright, the reason I ask is that I might like virtue ethics.
Quote:
aretaic [virtue] theories guide and assess what kind of person (in terms of character traits) we are and should be.

It seems that the point of it is to define you as a person?
Which I would like. "I do this because it makes me a better person." "I don't do this because it would make me a worse person."

My question would be why building a morale character to guide "better" decisions is good.
You either need deontology or consequentialism to define what good is.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 04:30 pm
@EmperorNero,
EmperorNero wrote:
Alright, the reason I ask is that I might like virtue ethics.

It seems that the point of it is to define you as a person?
Which I would like. "I do this because it makes me a better person." "I don't do this because it would make me a worse person."

My question would be why building a morale character to guide "better" decisions is good.
You either need deontology or consequentialism to define what good is.


By consequentialism, I assume you mean teleological ethics. Yes, virtue ethics is classified under teleological ethics or consequentialism.

Yes, the main function of virtue ethics is to built the moral character of the person. It also guides the person when it comes to making decisions on how to treat other people (kindness and fairness for example).

The theory is that it will lead to good outcomes and happiness for the individual and for the collective society as a whole. However, being virtuous does not guarantee the highest level of happiness. Some misfortunes are imposed by other agents and nature, and we may have little to no control over such misfortunes. In the face of diminished happiness, virtue ethics teaches a person how not to compound unhappiness. In the face of diminished happiness, the virtues of wisdom and fortitude yield optimism.
 
EmperorNero
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 04:48 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man;59491 wrote:
Yes, the main function of virtue ethics is to built the moral character of the person. It also guides the person when it comes to making decisions on how to treat other people (kindness and fairness for example).


Wouldn't all decisions have the objective to build the moral character of the person?
So it's really a pretty simple system.

hue-man;59491 wrote:
The theory is that it will lead to good outcomes and happiness for the individual and for the collective society as a whole.


Could you "amend" deontology instead of consequentialism with virtue ethics?
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 05:10 pm
@EmperorNero,
EmperorNero wrote:
Wouldn't all decisions have the objective to build the moral character of the person?


Yes.

EmperorNero wrote:
Could you "amend" deontology instead of consequentialism with virtue ethics?


I don't know, but I doubt it. Virtue ethics deals with the outcome of certain types of conduct, so it is teleological.
 
EmperorNero
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 06:12 pm
@hue-man,
hue-man;59501 wrote:
I don't know, but I doubt it. Virtue ethics deals with the outcome of certain types of conduct, so it is teleological.


Could you apply virtue ethics to dealing with actions themselves, and not their outcomes? I think so.
I don't know if it would still be virtue ethics. But it got to have a name. I don't believe I'm the first who thought of it.

And I'm not sure if consequentialism and teleological are the same thing.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 22 Apr, 2009 07:58 pm
@EmperorNero,
EmperorNero wrote:
Could you apply virtue ethics to dealing with actions themselves, and not their outcomes? I think so.
I don't know if it would still be virtue ethics. But it got to have a name. I don't believe I'm the first who thought of it.

And I'm not sure if consequentialism and teleological are the same thing.


Consequentialism is basically another term for utilitarianism. It is a teleological ethical theory, meaning that it derives moral obligation from the good or desirable outcomes of the act.

Teleological ethics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Consequentialism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

I don't see how virtues can be justified under deontology. Give it a try if you like.
 
 

 
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