A Brief History of Happiness by Nicholas P. White

By Nicholas P. White

Will we particularly recognize what happiness is? should still happiness play the sort of dominant function in shaping and orienting our lives? and the way will we take care of conflicts among a number of the issues that make us satisfied? during this short background of happiness, thinker Nicholas White reports 2,500 years of makes an attempt to reply to such questions. White considers the ways that significant thinkers from antiquity to the current day have taken care of happiness: from Platos concept of the concord of the soul and Aristotles account of wellbeing and fitness or flourishing because the objective of a moral existence, to Aquinas notion of the imaginative and prescient of the divine essence, Benthams hedonistic calculus, and the modern day decision-theoretic inspiration of choice. We additionally come across skepticism concerning the very inspiration of an entire and constant thought of happiness within the writings of Nietzsche and Freud. all through, White relates questions about happiness to important matters in ethics and sensible philosophy.

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Isn’t it plain that a city-state may at length have so much unity that it’s no longer a city-state? For the nature of a city-state is to be a plurality. . So we shouldn’t attain the greatest unity even if we could, for it would be the destruction of the city-state. (Politics 1261a15–23) Aristotle holds much the same view about the individual. He says that a bad man will be subject to conflicts in a way that the good man won’t, but he doesn’t exempt the good man from all conflicts. In particular, a human being has a “double nature” (as it was later put): a practical side and a theoretical one.

However, the “bodily” desires tend to encroach on each other. For example, a glutton’s desire to eat might move him to forgo exercise, and so no longer be in good shape. Plato seems to hold that the performance of natural function is a good thing. Third, Plato holds that if a person is subject to conflict, then that’s generally because his reason hasn’t successfully governed his personality. In particular his reason hasn’t governed and organized his desires. In that case, not only is his reason not performing its natural function – which is to organize and direct the personality – but in addition, that means (Plato believes) that the person’s reason doesn’t have a clear, consistent conception of the harmony of all desires to which a person should conform.

11) We can see Hobbes as taking Callicles’ idea and systematizing it to some extent. That is, Hobbes favors a degree of planning, not the near complete absence of planning that Callicles goes for. Or at least that’s so to the extent that Hobbes recommends a policy of trying to gain ever more power, so as to combat likely future dangers to one’s satisfaction of one’s desires. This isn’t too far from what Callicles seems to advocate, but it’s spelled out more fully (and connected by Hobbes to much more elaborate views on other, related issues).

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