In an unofficial poll of students at State University, I found that of the fifty-eight students and one professor, males and females of several ethnic backgrounds and age groups, that I asked the question "What is happiness to you?", all of them had very different physical, intellectual, or emotional motivator for their happiness. Only the professor stated what happiness was to him. The students, ranging in age from 20 years to 45 years, all spoke of material things that would make them happy. They couldn't seem to grasp "happiness" as a concept in itself.
The questions that are asked when exploring the concept of happiness should begin with desire to know if it is a pleasure based in our basic and primitive emotions. Next, is happiness motivated by pure desire? Does a mental state of contentment produce happiness? Does happiness come from a simple, physical feeling? Maybe happiness is a combination of all of these.
According to John Stuart Mill,
The creed which accepts as the foundation of morals, Utility, or the Greatest
Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to
promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By
happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain,
... middle of paper ...
abstract thought separates them from any other creature on earth, but it also makes
them unique unto themselves. What makes one person happy may or may not make another
person happy. Happiness, in and of itself, in my opinion, in unattainable. To be content with
a minimum of worries is as close to absolute happiness as a person can come.
For myself, I believe that true happiness is an illusion. I believe in the desire-driven
theory of happiness. When I find the need for the illusion of happiness, I attempt to
achieve it by fulfilling my temporary needs through the gratification of my immediate
desires. I find that contentment and the drive to continue to achieve my desires is much
more important than the illusion of happiness.
Pojman, Louis P. Classics of Philosophy: Volume II Modern and Contemporary. New York:
Oxford UP, 1998.
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