Tagged: happiness

Belonging and Hedonism

For most people, belonging to a group or tribe brings comfort. Comfort is pleasure. Therefore, if pleasure is happiness, then belonging brings happiness. If, however, pleasure is not happiness, then what does the comfort of belonging to a tribe bring you? An escape from the reality of unhappiness, perhaps? The same may be said of all other pleasures which, like belonging, entail a...

Philosophic Principles, Part Three

Reputation. The most important book in philosophy, Plato’s Republic, is at its core an elaborate answer this question: Who will have the happier life, the completely just man who is hated, reviled, punished, and dies without a friend, or the completely unjust man who is loved, respected, rewarded, and dies with a hero’s reputation? It is necessary to remind yourself of this question,...

Two Senses of Moderation

Recently, a student asked me whether possessing the virtue of moderation can make a person happy. “What I can be sure about,” she said, “is that not being moderate makes me unhappy.” It does not follow from this, however, she observed, that being moderate actually causes happiness — unless happiness is defined merely as the absence of unhappiness. A Stoic or Epicurean might...

Happiness by Comparison

A student who frequently writes to me about her efforts to overcome self-doubts and develop a more moderate, reasonable way of life, told me of an exchange she had recently with a friend who was trying to persuade her that she ought to be happier. The friend offered three specific arguments, which my student summarized as follows: 1. You have no disorder in...

Weekend Reflection: Nietzsche on Looking Around

On Friday, Ireland, a traditionally Catholic country, voted overwhelmingly to legalize abortion, which means that if you walk the streets of Dublin today, most of the people you meet will be supporters of killing human life to facilitate irresponsible pleasure. Meanwhile, halfway around the world in Korea, a democratically elected Korean president embraced and held hands with a grotesque brute responsible for the...

New Year’s Eve and The Meaning of Life

When someone says New Year’s Eve is one of his favorite holidays, and expresses dismay at my lack of New Year’s Eve plans, I feel I am talking to an empty shell. New Year’s Eve has no religious, moral, or intellectual significance. It is nothing but an opportunity — one justified by the calendar, and therefore appearing vaguely “natural” — to have fun....