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Old 03-20-2012, 02:22 PM   #8 (permalink)

feat. Otto Neurath
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Originally Posted by pzabby View Post
it's different person to person. No single person is the same, meaning no single person gets the same pleasure from the same activities. So how can you define what makes the average human happy, when in this regard there is no average human? A person who gets pleasure in life working 80 hours a week making 200 k a year then taking 2 weeks off to somewhere exotic is extremely different with someone who is content with making 50k/week, working 40h/week, and going out with his friends or family most nights of the week.

we simply cannot say what makes the average human happy or rather what the key to happiness is.
I think part of the problem there is that you've identified happiness with pleasure. I think it is possible to have happiness in the absence of pleasure, particularly if we restrict pleasure to originating from certain activities.

I prefer to focus on the more ancient concept of fulfillment, which points us away from hedonistic pleasure and towards a more pluralist view of how to be happy in a more permanent state. Where feelings of pleasure modulate from moment to moment, fulfillment is a life-long pursuit, perhaps one that cannot even be fully appreciated or evaluated while you're still alive.

When I think of fulfillment, I often start with a line of thought common to Utilitarian ethics: It's better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied, and anyone who says otherwise has only ever been on one side of that dichotomy. Similarly, I think many would agree that an opium addict who has seen nothing but his bedside cannot really be "happy" or fulfilled. This is damaging to the view that pleasure is synonymous with happiness or fulfillment.

Beyond that, I don't know if I can offer anything really concrete. My primary pursuits are intelellectual, as I believe that sort of fulfillment is not the sort that can easily be taken away from you, except in neurodegenerative cases where your ability to appreciate the intellect is likewise diminished. I view this pursuit a bit more broadly than others, where I consider moral and social development to be equally important as a sort of "pure intellect."
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