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Happiness Dr Timothy O’Leary. Abd Er-Rahman III (Muslim ruler of Spain 912-961 AD).

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Happiness dr timothy o leary

Happiness

Dr Timothy O’Leary


Abd er rahman iii muslim ruler of spain 912 961 ad
Abd Er-Rahman III (Muslim ruler of Spain912-961 AD)

  • “I have now reigned about 50 years in victory or peace, beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity.

    In this situation, I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot.

    They amount to fourteen.”


Heinrich heine german poet 1797 1856
Heinrich Heine, German poet, 1797-1856

  • "Mine is a most peaceable disposition. My wishes are a humble cottage with a thatched roof, but a good bed, good food, the freshest milk and butter, flowers before my window, and a few fine trees before my door;

    and if God wants to make my happiness complete,

    He will grant me the joy of seeing some six or seven of my enemies hanging from those trees."


Albert camus french writer 1913 1960
Albert Camus, French writer, 1913-1960

  • You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.


Hong kong 2005
Hong Kong, 2005

Happy Hour 5-7pm

Drinks 2 for 1


What is happiness
What is Happiness?

  • Is it a feeling, a psychological state, a mood, something that could occur just 14 days in the course of a life?

  • Is it something that could be “complete” – for example, if God were to hang our enemies in front of us?

  • Is it something that cannot be found through searching? Then how do we achieve it?

  • Through drugs, through alcohol?


Happiness chance luck
Happiness, Chance, Luck

  • The English word happiness derives from the word ‘hap’ which means (good) chance or fortune.

  • The French word bonheur literally means ‘good hour (time)’.

  • One of the German words for happiness – glück – also conveys the idea of good luck, chance.



Let’s look at another word for happiness – the ancient Greek word:

Eudaimonia

Lit. ‘good spirit’, ‘blessed’, ‘doing well’, living well’.



Aristotle 384 322 bc
Aristotle (384-322 BC) eudaimonia – about what it is and how we can achieve it.

  • He wrote a book called The Nicomachean Ethics, in which he situates happiness (eudaimonia) as the goal of human life, and as the outcome of ethical activity.

  • In this book he speaks about eudaimonia and eu zen (‘living well’) as the thing all human beings aim for.


Aristotle s eudaimonistic ethics
Aristotle’s eudaimonistic Ethics eudaimonia – about what it is and how we can achieve it.

  • The basic ‘building blocks’ of Aristotle’s ethics are:

  • Every activity has an ‘end’ an aim, a final goal. The final cause, or ‘end’ is the highest level of cause. So, every purposive activity has a purpose – for example: you set your alarm clock for 7am…

  • There is a hierarchy of ends or aims – but: we call that at which all things aim ‘the good’.


Final end
Final End eudaimonia – about what it is and how we can achieve it.

  • So, if all our actions aim at ends, and we can hierarchise these ends, then what is the final end for which we aim in our active lives?

  • It is happiness (eudaimonia). We know this is the absolute good for human life because it is final and self-sufficient – we do not seek it for any other reason, but for its own sake.


Definition
Definition eudaimonia – about what it is and how we can achieve it.

  • But what is happiness?

  • Aristotle’s preliminary definition: “Happiness is an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue.”

  • Note: this definition, with it’s emphasis on activity, relates to the lecture by Dr Ci on nihilism, powerlessness, and happiness.


Function
Function eudaimonia – about what it is and how we can achieve it.

  • To explain this we need to address the question of the proper function of man as such. For Aristotle function is a crucial explanatory device.

  • To know our function we must examine our nature – what is it?


  • Our defining feature, vis-à-vis other life forms is: eudaimonia – about what it is and how we can achieve it.reason and action. That is, unique among animals, we engage in purposive, rational activity.

  • So, if we say that the purpose/function of a scissors is to cut, the purpose/function of a good scissors is to cut well/excellently.



  • BUT we must also know what Aristotle means by engage soul.

  • For the ancient Greeks, the soul is primarily a way of explaining the difference between animate and inanimate things. Plants, animals and humans are infused with a certain principle that makes them alive – psuche, soul (psyche).



  • For Aristotle, the way you bring a soul to act well is through practice, habit, or VIRTUE. In other words, we need to TRAIN our souls to act well.

  • The Greek word which we translate as ‘virtue’ is arete, which literally means ‘excellence’.

  • So, Aristotle’s ethics focuses on what is that makes a person (and their life) excellent as an example of human activity.


  • Let’s look now in more detail at: through practice, habit, or VIRTUE. In other words, we need to

  • The role of pleasure

  • The Virtues (excellences)

  • The ‘Mean’ and moral training


The role of pleasure
The Role of Pleasure through practice, habit, or VIRTUE. In other words, we need to

  • The question of pleasure is a very important one in Greek (and later) thought about ethics – and about happiness.

  • What is the proper place of pleasure in the ‘good’/’just’/’happy’ life?


  • Aristotle’s approach to this question is the very ‘commonsense’ one that pleasure is a necessary component of the good or happy life; but it is not the final aim or goal of human life.

  • He would disagree with hedonists, epicureans, and many modern people, who believe that pleasure is the highest good in human life – the source of happiness.


  • Pleasure ‘commonsense’ one that pleasure is a necessary component of the good or happy life; but it is not the final aim or goal of human life.: the good, justice, etc are inherently pleasurable – the good man finds them pleasurable.

  • BUT, we need to work on ourselves in order to find the good/just pleasurable. Human beings don’t automatically find the good to be pleasurable.


  • AND, of course, some external goods, or pleasures, are also necessary for full happiness (eudaimonia): “for you cannot quite regard a man as happy if he be very ugly to look at, or of humble origin, or alone in the world and childless” (p.43).

  • So, virtue (excellence) is not sufficient in itself to make a human being happy.


  • Aristotle’s definition of the happy person: necessary for full happiness (

    “…one whose activities accord with complete virtue, with an adequate supply of external goods, not just for any time but for a complete life…[and who] will also go on living this way and will come to an appropriate end.”

    Note: Aristotle would say that Abd Er-Rahman III had misunderstood the nature of happiness.


Virtue
Virtue necessary for full happiness (

  • We call this ‘goodness of action’ virtue (arete/excellence).

  • And, following the division of the soul, human beings are capable of two kinds of virtue: intellectual (relating to the rational part) and moral (relating to the non-rational part).



Moral virtues
Moral Virtues cultivated – the product of

  • The moral virtues are not implanted in us by nature; but neither are their opposites. And unlike sight, for eg., which we have before we use it, in the case of moral virtues: we acquire them by exercising them. In the same way as craftsmen learn their craft – through practice.

  • “A state [of character] results from [the repetition of] similar activities.” So – actions precede dispositions.

  • But how do we acquire these virtues?


The mean
The Mean cultivated – the product of

  • The answer is: by acting according to a mean between deficiency and excess.

  • Just as health is destroyed by too much (eg food) or too little (eg food, exercise), so it is with the moral virtues.


  • So, what is virtue cultivated – the product of (arete, excellence)?

  • Virtue is a disposition – a disposition which enables the good man to perform his function well. And we do that when we avoid excess and deficiency, when we achieve the ‘mean’ in our actions and our feelings.


  • What is the ‘mean’? It is cultivated – the product of not the arithmetical mean. It is ‘not the mean of the thing but the relative mean’.

  • Eg., fear, anger, pity can be experienced and acted upon to excess or to deficiency.

  • “But to have these feelings at the right times on the right occasions towards the right people for the right motive and in the right way is to have them in the right measure, that is, somewhere between the extremes; and this is what characterises goodness.” Bk.2, Ch.6, Sect.10-12



  • Examples of some (Greek) virtues (of character): which, when it has to choose among actions and feelings, it observes the mean relative to us, this being determined by such a rule or principle as would take shape in the mind of a man of sense or practical wisdom” .

    Courage; Temperance; Generosity; Truthfulness; Friendliness; Modesty.

  • These are all acquired through good habit.

  • And, when combined with the intellectual virtues (knowledge, practical wisdom, etc), they lead to a life of eudaimonia – well-being, or well-doing.


  • We call the person who achieves this life “happy” ( which, when it has to choose among actions and feelings, it observes the mean relative to us, this being determined by such a rule or principle as would take shape in the mind of a man of sense or practical wisdom” .eudaimon) and “virtuous” (excellent).

  • The point of ethics – and philosophy – is to achieve this goal.


  • Further Reading: which, when it has to choose among actions and feelings, it observes the mean relative to us, this being determined by such a rule or principle as would take shape in the mind of a man of sense or practical wisdom” .

  • This article from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy will be useful – esp. Section 2.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-ethics/#2


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