What is being good?

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Adam101
 
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 03:47 pm
I've been doing some reflection on the purpose of living--what we strive for as living things and what is an absolute for the purpose of living.

To me, and I can't think of anyone who'd disagree, the purpose of living is to be happy, because who isn't striving to be happy, and I mean right now in this very instant, throughout the day, on into your sleep and dreams until you wake up again and continue the pursuit? I believe that a person even doing "bad" things is searching for happiness and is doing good in a way. At least that person isn't being oppressed and losing sight of happiness because of any outside agent. However, just wanting happiness isn't being good in my eyes.

If happiness is our goal--our purpose--then being good would be promoting, producing, and preserving happiness in it's best state. But what do I mean by it's best state? I think I mean that we should take actions that produce more happiness than sadness, because, again, to me, when there's an abundance of happiness, there's good. On the other hand, if something produces less happiness than sadness, or more sadness than happiness, it is bad (I use the words Sin and Kesh, but I don't want to start on religion).

So, in being good, we're promoting, producing, and preserving our main purpose in life--we're manifesting happiness and preserving it.

If every person were good according to this definition, the world would make a radical change for the better. I see no oppression in telling people an immovable definition of good and bad--of morality--either, because we're already oppressed, it seems, by the want to be happy. So, by embracing this want, we're really setting ourselves free.

Is this agreed?
 
deepthot
 
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 03:52 pm
@Adam101,
Greetings, Adam

I agree with you, though it is a bit more complex.

I refer you to this link, which, in turn, has links to my two manuscripts, each of which has sections on Happiness.. Here is the link:
http://www.philosophyforum.com/philosophy-forums/branches-philosophy/ethics/4608-goodness-good-person-true-justice.html
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 04:39 pm
@Adam101,
Adam101;94643 wrote:
To me, and I can't think of anyone who'd disagree, the purpose of living is to be happy, because who isn't striving to be happy, and I mean right now in this very instant, throughout the day, on into your sleep and dreams until you wake up again and continue the pursuit?


Hi Adam,

I think otherwise. I thought about it once, and figured that if I was simply trying to be happy then I would be all the time frustrated and unhappy because I was not happy. So, I just let the happiness come when it comes (usually at unexpected times), and likewise for unhappiness.

Adam101;94643 wrote:
If happiness is our goal--our purpose--then being good would be promoting, producing, and preserving happiness in it's best state.


Since, happiness is not my goal, then I think being good is something that someone else would think of my actions if I did something that they liked. Of course, another person might consider my actions exactly opposite. For example, if I had a hundred dollars and gave it to one of my friends. That friend might think I was being very good. The other friend, standing right next to me might think otherwise.

Adam101;94643 wrote:
If every person were good according to this definition, the world would make a radical change for the better.

Is this agreed?


The problem is that what is good for one person might be very bad for someone else. It is a judgment call. People fight wars over what is good for one nation but at the same time being bad for another (e.g. taking away water supplies).

I hope I was able to convey my point of view well.

Rich
 
Adam101
 
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 04:44 pm
@richrf,
Why do you do anything that you do?
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 04:55 pm
@richrf,
Your view puts me in mind of some forms of stoicism. A bird, by its nature flies to the ground and pecks. There happens to be bugs down there and the pecking brings happiness. The bird that does not follow its nature will be unhappy... and it will eventually die. This viewpoint suggests that all life, success, goodness, and happiness come from following nature, and all disease, failure, sin, and unhappiness come from resisting it. Since my health depends on the health of the world I live in, it would appear that the part of my nature that leads me to care about others is again.. self serving.

There are different viewpoints. Comparing them might show that this stoic perspective focuses on the will. An unbalanced use of this viewpoint could lead to "me, me, me... what do I want, what do I think, what am I doing." But according to the stoic view itself, if I become diseased in my thinking... my failures will lead me to return to conformance with nature or die. Every viewpoint is its own little world.
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 05:32 pm
@Adam101,
Adam101;94654 wrote:
Why do you do anything that you do?


To learn something new. I enjoy exploring. Sometimes things happen though in the middle of my enjoyment (such as a stock market crash) which may make it far less enjoyable. I have experienced all kinds of things in my life. All during the process of learning.

Rich
 
Adam101
 
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 05:35 pm
@Arjuna,
"...it would appear that the part of my nature that leads me to care about others is again.. self serving."

Imagine you have kids for a minute if you don't already. Sometimes you do for your child despite anything that has to do with yourself. Sometimes we will go to extremes to think we've pleased or displeased another person, and our own best intentions, or our own happiness, is never considered. We care about the happiness/unhappiness in others only.

I mean what will produce the most happiness in general, not just in one's self, is morally the good, or best, option.

---------- Post added 10-01-2009 at 06:41 PM ----------

I find it hard to believe that the purpose of every action you take is to learn something. I believe that learning makes you happy, just as you led me to believe by saying, "I enjoy exploring."

Just because you aren't happy, doesn't mean you aren't trying to be happy.
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 06:24 pm
@Adam101,
Adam101;94665 wrote:

I find it hard to believe that the purpose of every action you take is to learn something. I believe that learning makes you happy, just as you led me to believe by saying, "I enjoy exploring."

Just because you aren't happy, doesn't mean you aren't trying to be happy.


I certainly don't go into anything looking for happiness. It would be too frustrating. Only a small fraction of the things I do happen to make me happy and then it is usually quite by surprise.

Nope, I gave up a long time ago trying to find happiness. I let it find me when it is good and ready - just like sadness. They both seem to be paired together and come in waves. In the meantime, I just explore for the sake of exploration and learning. You never know what might happen.

Rich
 
Adam101
 
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 07:21 pm
@Adam101,
"I certainly don't go into anything looking for happiness."

Nothing? Are you sure not even subconsciously? Why do you eat? I imagine that anything voluntary is to content yourself, or to make yourself happy, so how could what you say be true?

Tell me, why did you post your post?
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 08:05 pm
@Adam101,
Adam101;94693 wrote:
Are you sure not even subconsciously?


Anything is possible, but it doesn't feel like it. For example, I play golf to try to figure out the game. It is a very frustrating game and difficult to figure out. I have to be completely relaxed. In a way, I go to the driving range as a test of how relaxed I am. I really has nothing to do with happiness. Trust me, I am very rarely happy after hitting a golf ball on the range.


Adam101;94693 wrote:
Why do you eat?


First and foremost for good health. I also enjoy the various tastes. But last night was a good example. I was looking forward to some Indian food because I enjoy the tastes. I asked that they refrain from the spices and they didn't. TOO SPICY!!! Smile So, I was really pissed. It happens in life. I just went to a different restaurant which I hadn't been to in 20 years, and it was splendid. So, I was surprised. Unhappy here, happy there. One never knows - so I don't try to outguess.

Adam101;94693 wrote:
I imagine that anything voluntary is to content yourself, or to make yourself happy, so how could what you say be true?


This may very well describe your viewpoint in life. There is no reason why you and I do things for the same reasons. We are different and approach things differently. Not surprising. People are different.

Adam101;94693 wrote:
Tell me, why did you post your post?


To share my ideas with other people and discuss things in life. It is one of the ways I learn. However, you can observe that not all discussions I have on forums are fun.

Rich
 
Adam101
 
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 11:51 pm
@richrf,
In the golf analogy, you're using the conclusion of your actions and not the motivator. You say a golf shot doesn't make you happy normally, but that's not the same as saying you try to play golf because you think it will make you happy, but it doesn't. I mean to say that, just because it doesn't make you happy, doesn't mean you weren't motivated by the idea of happiness.

why do you want good health?

why do you want to learn?
 
deepthot
 
Reply Fri 2 Oct, 2009 01:42 am
@Adam101,
Adam101;94715 wrote:
In the golf analogy, you're using the conclusion of your actions and not the motivator. You say a golf shot doesn't make you happy normally, but that's not the same as saying you try to play golf because you think it will make you happy, but it doesn't. I mean to say that, just because it doesn't make you happy, doesn't mean you weren't motivated by the idea of happiness.

why do you want good health?

why do you want to learn?


Adam,

Which test do you like best to measure individual happiness? ....general happiness?

What makes that test -- or those tests -- so sound?

And if you haven't got a way to measure what you call "general happiness", then doesn't this 'sole principle for ethics' kind of fall apart??

I think 'adding value' and 'multiplying value' is a better (singular) criterion for ethics -- if there has to be a singular concept to explain all moral circumstances. The reason I say this is that "value" is a well-defined term, and the HVP test is a proven tool to measure people's values. It has been validated every which way there is to validate a test.

Rich is right that happiness often comes as a by-product of living, and it could be said to be the feeling we get when we see we are drawing near to a long-sought, worthwhile goal on which we have been working to attain.

However, one may also decide when s/he gets up in the morning, "I'm going to be happy today"; and s/he will find that willing it helped bring it about. One may also note down on a scrap of paper each blessing that occurs during the day, save the scraps in a jar, and occasionally review the contents of the jar with an attitude of appreciation and gratitude. This also could cultivate happiness. There are many, many other techniques also.
 
Adam101
 
Reply Fri 2 Oct, 2009 02:24 am
@Adam101,
How to measure happiness and what happiness is is sort of what I wanted to discuss, too, because I figured it was evident everything we did was to content ourselves, or to make ourselves and/or other people happy. I may be wrong, but I don't see it yet if i'm ever going to see it.

Anyway, outside agents effect the outcome of our actions so that acting "perfect" according to this moral code doesn't mean we will be happy all the time, nor does it mean we will ever be truly happy. When you consider which action to take in the pursuit of happiness, we must be able to judge what action will produce more happiness than others through our own reflection of our thoughts and feelings & other living things' thoughts and feelings. Here, we use happiness its self in order to gauge what will create more of our purpose, because we imagine how we feel and determine by each feeling which one made us more happy, and we take action in direction to the hypothesis that we thought we would enjoy the most. Taking action for other people, we have to use our own experiences with happiness, empathy, and a wealth of knowledge of what helps people in their pursuit through life. I suppose that a way to measure general happiness of people is the lack of pain, suffering, and torment. The less of this, which I imagine is the opposite of good, the happier the people are.

So, I suppose general happiness would be measured through the lack of a negative purpose, and personal happiness is measured through reflection of the feeling its self. I imagine we can tell when we're happy and when we're not, and I imagine we tell through experiencing different levels of feelings of happiness and recognizing the pleasure it produces in us.

What makes this test so sound? I'm not so sure it's sound, I hope you can help me out with that, but it's simply profound to me that we can say everyone is in the pursuit of happiness, whether that's consciously or subconsciously, and then say that whatever produces our goal in life is good, and whatever produces its negative is bad. The theory of measuring happiness is only deduction, I believe, because the more happiness we're going to have, the less unhappiness we're going to have, and we can tell which is more abundant by the presence of this feeling "happiness" and the rate at which it occurs along with the retrograding production of our negative purpose--of pain, suffering, and torment.

We would know if the world was happy, and we could be able to prove this hypothesis right or wrong, theoretically, if everyone participated, seeing happiness grow from people to people and country to country, right?
 
richrf
 
Reply Fri 2 Oct, 2009 07:22 am
@Adam101,
Adam101;94715 wrote:
In the golf analogy, you're using the conclusion of your actions and not the motivator. You say a golf shot doesn't make you happy normally, but that's not the same as saying you try to play golf because you think it will make you happy, but it doesn't.


It is possible that I am a very poor observer and learner, and that I would keep going back to golf to try to make myself happy only to end up being unhappy. But I don't feel this way.

I think that we can consider other alternatives to the one that you propose - e.g. that I somehow am trying to make myself happy by playing golf, especially, since I feel otherwise. I do not think that everyone can be fit into the same peg hole. People are different. It is possible, that I and other people just like playing golf to observe what happens and to learn from the experience - e.g. how relaxation changes the nature of the game. There are probably many other reasons. Some play it just as an excuse to get away from their spouse for a few hours. Not so much for happiness (rarely the case) but relief. Smile

Adam101;94715 wrote:
why do you want good health?


So that I can learn throughout my life. I would like to keep playing tennis, basketball, football, table tennis, until I pass on. But if not, I will find other ways to explore such as music and art.


Adam101;94715 wrote:
why why do you want to learn?


It beats standing around being bored to death (literally?).

Rich
 
Fido
 
Reply Fri 2 Oct, 2009 07:29 am
@Adam101,
Adam101;94643 wrote:
I've been doing some reflection on the purpose of living--what we strive for as living things and what is an absolute for the purpose of living.

To me, and I can't think of anyone who'd disagree, the purpose of living is to be happy, because who isn't striving to be happy, and I mean right now in this very instant, throughout the day, on into your sleep and dreams until you wake up again and continue the pursuit? I believe that a person even doing "bad" things is searching for happiness and is doing good in a way. At least that person isn't being oppressed and losing sight of happiness because of any outside agent. However, just wanting happiness isn't being good in my eyes.

If happiness is our goal--our purpose--then being good would be promoting, producing, and preserving happiness in it's best state. But what do I mean by it's best state? I think I mean that we should take actions that produce more happiness than sadness, because, again, to me, when there's an abundance of happiness, there's good. On the other hand, if something produces less happiness than sadness, or more sadness than happiness, it is bad (I use the words Sin and Kesh, but I don't want to start on religion).

So, in being good, we're promoting, producing, and preserving our main purpose in life--we're manifesting happiness and preserving it.

If every person were good according to this definition, the world would make a radical change for the better. I see no oppression in telling people an immovable definition of good and bad--of morality--either, because we're already oppressed, it seems, by the want to be happy. So, by embracing this want, we're really setting ourselves free.

Is this agreed?

Being good is not doing wrong...Morality is negative... It does not require, but denies....
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 2 Oct, 2009 07:29 am
@richrf,
richrf;94699 wrote:
Anything is possible, but it doesn't feel like it. For example, I play golf to try to figure out the game. It is a very frustrating game and difficult to figure out. I have to be completely relaxed. In a way, I go to the driving range as a test of how relaxed I am. I really has nothing to do with happiness. Trust me, I am very rarely happy after hitting a golf ball on the range.




First and foremost for good health. I also enjoy the various tastes. But last night was a good example. I was looking forward to some Indian food because I enjoy the tastes. I asked that they refrain from the spices and they didn't. TOO SPICY!!! Smile So, I was really pissed. It happens in life. I just went to a different restaurant which I hadn't been to in 20 years, and it was splendid. So, I was surprised. Unhappy here, happy there. One never knows - so I don't try to outguess.



This may very well describe your viewpoint in life. There is no reason why you and I do things for the same reasons. We are different and approach things differently. Not surprising. People are different.



To share my ideas with other people and discuss things in life. It is one of the ways I learn. However, you can observe that not all discussions I have on forums are fun.

Rich



I suggest that going to an Indian restaurant, and ask them to refrain from spices, is like going to a steak house, ordering a steak, and asking them to refrain from meat.
 
richrf
 
Reply Fri 2 Oct, 2009 07:56 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;94759 wrote:
I suggest that going to an Indian restaurant, and ask them to refrain from spices, is like going to a steak house, ordering a steak, and asking them to refrain from meat.


It just requires them to refrain from putting in hot red peppers. A matter of adjustment. Sometimes the cook can adjust and sometimes they have not learned how to do it. It is a bit of a gamble no doubt.

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 2 Oct, 2009 08:04 am
@richrf,
richrf;94764 wrote:
It just requires them to refrain from putting in hot red peppers. A matter of adjustment. Sometimes the cook can adjust and sometimes they have not learned how to do it. It is a bit of a gamble no doubt.

Rich


I don't think hot peppers are spices. In any case, I thought you meant all spices. I think that is what "refrain from spices" means.
 
Adam101
 
Reply Fri 2 Oct, 2009 09:03 am
@Fido,
what then is wrong so that we know what not to do? I would obviously argue that anything that leads to more unhappiness than sadness is wrong. I don't understand your post.

And for crying out loud, it's obvious you ate to make yourself happy, just like it's the reason you pursue knowledge...it makes you happy. Seriously? It beats sitting around bored is your answer? It's like you know you do everything for happiness, but you want to argue.
 
deepthot
 
Reply Sun 4 Oct, 2009 02:40 am
@Fido,
Fido;94758 wrote:
.....Morality is negative... It does not require, but denies....


Greetings, Fido

Is it possible you are thinking of The Ten Commandments, many of which are 'thou shalt not'?

I take it you did not find my definition of "morality" as acceptable....? It seemed like the best (most appropriate) name to give to that particular formula in my system.

I know you believe love is the answer, but try teaching that in academic philosophy courses in major universities ! What is your definition of that term: "love"? Am I wrong? Isn't 'love' the most central term in ethics according to your point of view?
 
 

 
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