On Happiness

Today’s video on the passage by Amartya Sen features me. It packs in a lot of ideas from the philosophy of Aristotle but also reflects my attempt to imitate Plato’s style by being serious and funny at the same time. Here’s an outline of the video: First, because Sen says that the idea of a human being as entirely self-interested presents a human being as something “close to being a social moron” (meaning a foolish person), I tell a story about a time when lack of concern for someone else led me to do something foolish in a social situation. Then, I move on to discuss how a good view of happiness can reflect our ability to be better than that. I ask three questions about happiness: 1) Is happiness something more than getting what we want? 2) Does it make sense to talk about a long-term, big-picture happiness that goes beyond short-term pleasure? Here I also make a distinction between the many kinds of noble pleasures that lead people to flourish and pleasures that are beneath the dignity of human beings. 3) Can one person’s long term, big picture happiness include good things for others?

Do you think that there is a difference between short-term pleasure and long-term, big-picture happiness? Do you think that there is a difference between noble pleasures that lead human beings to flourish and pleasures that are unworthy of human beings and degrade them? (Please feel free to disagree with me or bring in other considerations.)

Do you think that there are ways that caring for the long-term, big-picture happiness of other people can increase one’s own long-term, big-picture happiness? Do you have any advice for ways to make sure that people are both caring enough about themselves and enough about others?

Photo: “62110 02” by Amara is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Leave a Reply