By Nicholas P. White
Can we rather recognize what happiness is? may still happiness play this kind of dominant position in shaping and orienting our lives? and the way do we take care of conflicts among many of the issues that make us satisfied? during this short historical past of happiness, thinker Nicholas White stories 2,500 years of makes an attempt to respond to such questions. White considers the ways that significant thinkers from antiquity to the current day have taken care of happiness: from Platos thought of the concord of the soul and Aristotles account of healthiness or flourishing because the objective of a moral lifestyles, to Aquinas notion of the imaginative and prescient of the divine essence, Benthams hedonistic calculus, and the modern day decision-theoretic proposal of choice. We additionally come upon skepticism concerning the very inspiration of an entire and constant proposal of happiness within the writings of Nietzsche and Freud. all through, White relates questions on happiness to significant issues in ethics and functional philosophy.
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Extra resources for A Brief History of Happiness
This is a limitation on human thinking (sometimes a damaging one). But it 42 ABHC03 Hedonism and the Measurement of Happiness 42 1/11/05, 12:02 PM determines, nevertheless, the way in which philosophical questions about happiness have been posed throughout the whole history of the concept. It must also determine, most likely, the form that the answers to those questions have to take (Chapter 7). The fundamental reason why quantitative hedonism isn’t convincing in either of these ways goes back to the plurality of our aims and values (Chapters 1 and 2).
Someone who scores high in one might well score low in either of the others. You can’t easily say that we just have different standards of evaluation (or scoring systems, if you like), and that it’s meaningless to choose among them. Each corresponds to its own view of what’s valuable in life and worth seeking. It makes sense to say that a life that conforms to a well-balanced pattern of activities is happier than, or less happy than, one that doesn’t but does contain substantial good episodes, or else a large quantity of pleasure over its whole span.
In criticizing Callicles, in fact, it looks as though Plato let himself off too easily. Callicles happens to have inconsistent wants, because he’s ashamed of a life that involves nothing but the satisfaction of scratching an itch and so doesn’t want to have that want, or at least not very much of it. But suppose he doesn’t mind having, and satisfying, that desire throughout his life. That seems possible. And if someone were free of desires that supervise other desires the best condition might seem, for such a person, to consist in getting what he wanted after all.
A Brief History of Happiness by Nicholas P. White