Philosophy of happiness

The philosophy of happiness is the philosophical concern with the existence, nature, and attainment of happiness. Philosophers believe happiness can be understood as the moral goal of life or as an aspect of chance; indeed, in most European languages the term happiness is synonymous with luck.[1] Thus, philosophers usually explicate on happiness as either a state of mind, or a life that goes well for the person leading it.[2]

Ancient Greece

Plato

We have proved that justice in itself is the best thing for the soul itself, and that the soul ought to do justice...
— Plato, The Republic[3]

Plato (c. 428 – c. 347 BCE), using Socrates (c. 470 – 399 BCE) as the main character in his philosophical dialogues, outlined the requirements for happiness in The Republic.

In The Republic, Plato asserts that those who are moral are the only ones who may be truly happy. Thus, one must understand the cardinal virtues, particularly justice. Through the thought experiment of the Ring of Gyges, Plato comes to the conclusion that one who abuses power enslaves himself to his appetites, while the man who chooses not to remains rationally in control of himself, and therefore is happy.[3][4]

He also sees a type of happiness stemming from social justice through fulfilling one's social function; since this duty forms happiness, other typically seen sources of happiness – such as leisure, wealth, and pleasure – are deemed lesser, if not completely false, forms of happiness.[5]

Aristotle

Aristotle (384 – 322 BCE) held that eudaimonia (Greek: εὐδαιμονία) is the goal of human thought and action. Eudaimonia is usually translated as happiness, but "human flourishing" may be a more accurate translation.[6] Eudaimonia involves activity, exhibiting virtue (arete, Greek: ἀρετή) in accordance with virtue.

Within the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle points to the fact that many aims are really only intermediate aims, and are desired only because they make the achievement of higher aims possible.[7] Therefore, things such as wealth, intelligence, and courage are valued only in relation to other things, while eudaimonia is the only thing valuable in isolation.

Aristotle regarded virtue as necessary for a person to be happy and held that without virtue the most that may be attained is contentment. Aristotle has been criticized for failing to show that virtue is necessary in the way he claims it to be, and he does not address this moral skepticism.[8]

Cynicism

Greek philosopher busts
The carved busts of Socrates, Antisthenes, Chrysippus, and Epicurus.

Antisthenes (c. 445 – c. 365 BCE), often regarded as the founder of Cynicism, advocated an ascetic life lived in accordance with virtue. Xenophon testifies that Antisthenes had praised the joy that sprang "from out of one's soul,"[9] and Diogenes Laërtius relates that Antisthenes was fond of saying: "I would rather go mad than feel pleasure."[10] He maintained that virtue was sufficient in itself to ensure happiness, only needing the strength of a Socrates.

He, along with all following Cynics, rejected any conventional notions of happiness involving money, power, and fame, to lead entirely virtuous, and thus happy, lives.[11] Thus, happiness can be gained through rigorous training (askesis, Greek: ἄσκησις) and by living in a way which was natural for humans, rejecting all conventional desires, preferring a simple life free from all possessions.

Diogenes of Sinope (c. 412 – c. 323 BCE) is most frequently seen as the perfect embodiment of the philosophy. The Stoics themselves saw him as one of the few, if not only, who have had achieved the state of sage.[12]

Cyrenaicism

As a consequence the sage, even if he has his troubles, will nonetheless be happy, even if few pleasures accrue to him.
— Diogenes Laërtius on Anniceris[13][14]

The Cyrenaics were a school of philosophy established by Aristippus of Cyrene (c. 435 – c. 356 BCE). The school asserted that the only good is positive pleasure, and pain is the only evil. They posit that all feeling is momentary so all past and future pleasure have no real existence for an individual, and that among present pleasures there is no distinction of kind.[15] Claudius Aelianus, in his Historical Miscellany,[16] writes about Aristippus:

"He recommended that one should concrete on the present day, and indeed on the very part of it in which one is acting and thinking. For only the present, he said, truly belongs to us, and not what has passed by or what we are anticipating: for the one is gone and done with, and it is uncertain whether the other will come to be"[17]

Some immediate pleasures can create more than their equivalent of pain. The wise person should be in control of pleasures rather than be enslaved to them, otherwise pain will result, and this requires judgement to evaluate the different pleasures of life.[18]

Pyrrhonism

Pyrrhonism was founded by Pyrrho (c. 360 – c. 270 BCE), and was the first Western school of philosophical skepticism. The goal of Pyrrhonist practice is to attain the state of ataraxia (ataraxia, Greek: ἀταραξία) -- freedom from perturbation. Pyrrho identified that what prevented people from attaining ataraxia was their beliefs in non-evident matters, i.e., holding dogmas. To free people from belief the ancient Pyrrhonists developed a variety of skeptical arguments.

Epicureanism

Of all the means which wisdom acquires to ensure happiness throughout the whole of life, by far the most important is friendship.
— Epicurus[19]

Epicureanism was founded by Epicurus (c. 341 – c. 270 BCE). The goal of his philosophy was to attain a state of tranquility (ataraxia, Greek: ἀταραξία) and freedom from fear, as well as absence of bodily pain (aponia, Greek: ἀπονία). Toward these ends, Epicurus recommended an ascetic lifestyle, noble friendship, and the avoidance of politics.

One aid to achieving happiness is the tetrapharmakos or the four-fold cure:

Tetrapharmakos PHerc 1005 col 5
A papyrus copy depicting the Epicurean tetrapharmakos in Philodemus of Gadara's Adversus Sophistas - (P.Herc.1005), col. 5

"Do not fear god,
Do not worry about death;
What is good is easy to get, and
What is terrible is easy to endure."
(Philodemus, Herculaneum Papyrus, 1005, 4.9–14).[20]

Stoicism

If you work at that which is before you, following right reason seriously, vigorously, calmly, without allowing anything else to distract you, but keeping your divine part pure, as if you were bound to give it back immediately; if you hold to this, expecting nothing, but satisfied to live now according to nature, speaking heroic truth in every word that you utter, you will live happy. And there is no man able to prevent this.
— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations[21]

Stoicism was a school of philosophy established by Zeno of Citium (c. 334 – c. 262 BCE). While Zeno was syncretic in thought, his primary influence were the Cynics, with Crates of Thebes (c. 365 – c. 285 BCE) as his mentor.

Stoics believe that "virtue is sufficient for happiness".[22] One who has attained this sense of virtue would become a sage. In the words of Epictetus, this sage would be "sick and yet happy, in peril and yet happy, dying and yet happy, in exile and happy, in disgrace and happy,"[23]

The Stoics therefore spent their time trying to attain virtue. This would only be achieved if one was to dedicate their life studying Stoic logic, Stoic physics, and Stoic ethics.

Ancient Rome

School of the Sextii

The School of the Sextii was founded by Quintus Sextius the Elder (fl. 50 BCE). It characterized itself mainly as a philosophical-medical school, blending Pythagorean, Platonic, Cynic, and Stoic elements together.[24] They argued that to achieve happiness, one ought to be vegetarian, have nightly examinations of conscience, and avoid both consumerism and politics,[25] and believe that an elusive incorporeal power pervades the body.[24]

Augustine of Hippo

Nevertheless, to praise you is the desire of man, a little piece of your creation. You stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.
— St. Augustine, Confessions.[26]
The happy life is joy based on the truth. This is joy grounded in you, O God, who are the truth.
— St. Augustine, Confessions.[27]

St. Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430 AD) was an early Christian theologian and philosopher[28] whose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy.

For St. Augustine, all human actions revolve around love, and the primary problem humans face is the misplacing of love.[29] Only in God can one find happiness, as He is source of happiness. Since humanity was brought forth from God, but has since fallen, one's soul dimly remembers the happiness from when one was with God.[30] Thus, if one orients themselves toward the love of God, all other loves will become properly ordered.[31] In this manner, St. Augustine follows the Neoplatonic tradition in asserting that happiness lays in the contemplation of the purely intelligible realm.[30]

St. Augustine deals with the concept of happiness directly in his treatises De beata vita and Contra Academicos.[30]

Boethius

Mortal creatures have one overall concern. This they work at by toiling over a whole range of pursuits, advancing on different paths, but striving to attain the one goal of happiness.
— Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy.[32]

Boethius (c. 480–524 AD) was a philosopher, most famous for writing The Consolation of Philosophy. The work has been described as having had the single most important influence on the Christianity of the Middle Ages and early Renaissance and as the last great work of the Classical Period.[33][34] The book describes many themes, but among them he discusses how happiness can be attainable despite changing fortune, while considering the nature of happiness and God.

He posits that happiness is acquired by attaining the perfect good, and that perfect good is God.[32] He then concludes that as God ruled the universe through Love, prayer to God and the application of Love would lead to true happiness.[35]

Middle Ages

Avicenna

Avicenna Drawing
A drawing of Avicenna, 1960.

Avicenna (c. 980–1037), also known as 'Ibn-Sina', was polymath and jurist; he is regarded as one of the most significant thinkers in the Islamic Golden Age.[36] According to him, happiness is the aim of humans, and that real happiness is pure and free from worldly interest.[37] Ultimately, happiness is reached through the conjunction of the human intellect with the separate active intellect.[38]

Al-Ghazali

Al-Ghazali (c. 1058–1111) was a Muslim theologian, jurist, philosopher, and mystic of Persian descent.[39] Produced near the end of his life, al-Ghazali wrote The Alchemy of Happiness (Kimiya-yi Sa'ādat, (Persian: كيمياى سعادت‎).[40] In the work, he emphasizes the importance of observing the ritual requirements of Islam, the actions that would lead to salvation, and the avoidance of sin. Only by exercising the human faculty of reason - a God-given ability - can one transform the soul from worldliness to complete devotion to God, the ultimate happiness.[41]

According to Al-Ghazali, there are four main constituents of happiness: self-knowledge, knowledge of God, knowledge of this world as it really is, and the knowledge of the next world as it really is.[42]

Maimonides

Maimonides (c. 1135-1204) was a Jewish philosopher and astronomer,[43] who became one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars and physicians.[44] He writes that happiness is ultimately and essentially intellectual.[45]

Thomas Aquinas

God is happiness by His Essence: for He is happy not by acquisition or participation of something else, but by His Essence.
— St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica[46]

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274 AD) was a philosopher and theologian, who became a Doctor of the Church in 1323.[47] His system syncretized Aristotelianism and Catholic theology within his Summa Theologica.[48] The first part of the second part is divided into 114 articles, the first five deal explicitly with the happiness of humans.[49] He states that happiness is achieved by cultivating several intellectual and moral virtues, which enable us to understand the nature of happiness and motivate us to seek it in a reliable and consistent way.[48] Yet, one will be unable to find the greatest happiness in this life, because final happiness consists in a supernatural union with God.[48][50] As such, man's happiness does not consist of wealth, status, pleasure, or in any created good at all. Most goods do not have a necessary connection to happiness,[48] since the ultimate object of man's will, can only be found in God, who is the source of all good.[51]

Early Modern

Michel de Montaigne

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) was a French philosopher. Influenced by Aristotelianism and Christianity, alongside the conviction of the separation of public and private spheres of life, Montaigne writes that happiness is a subjective state of mind and that satisfaction differs from person to person.[52] He continues by acknowledging that one must be allowed a private sphere of life to realize those particular attempts of happiness without the interference of society.[52]

Jeremy Bentham

Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) was a British philosopher, jurist, and social reformer. He is regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism.

His particular brand of utilitarianism indicated that the most moral action is that which causes the highest amount of utility, where defined utility as the aggregate pleasure after deducting suffering of all involved in any action. Happiness, therefore, is the experience of pleasure and the lack of pain.[53] Actions which do not promote the greatest happiness is morally wrong - such as ascetic sacrifice.[53] This manner of thinking permits the possibility of a calculator to measure happiness and moral value.

Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) was a German philosopher. His philosophy express that egotistical acts are those that are guided by self-interest, desire for pleasure or happiness, whereas only compassion can be a moral act.

Schopenhauer explains happiness in terms of a wish that is satisfied, which in turn gives rise to a new wish. And the absence of satisfaction is suffering, which results in an empty longing. He also links happiness with the movement of time, as we feel happy when time moves faster and feel sad when time slows down.[54]

Contemporary

Władysław Tatarkiewicz

Władysław Tatarkiewicz (1886-1980) was a Polish philosopher, historian of philosophy, historian of art, esthetician, and ethicist.[55]

For Tatarkiewicz, happiness is a fundamental ethical category.

Herbert Marcuse

Herbert Marcuse (1898–1979) was a German-American philosopher, sociologist, and political theorist, associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory.

In his 1937 essay 'The Affirmative Character of Culture,' he suggests culture develops tension within the structure of society, and in that tension can challenge the current social order. If it separates itself from the everyday world, the demand for happiness will cease to be external, and begin to become an object of spiritual contemplation.[56]

In the One-Dimensional Man, his criticism of consumerism suggests that the current system is one that claims to be democratic, but is authoritarian in character, as only a few individuals dictate the perceptions of freedom by only allowing certain choices of happiness to be available for purchase.[57] He further suggests that the conception that 'happiness can be bought' is one that is psychologically damaging.

Viktor Frankl

It is a characteristic of the American culture that, again and again, one is commanded and ordered to 'be happy.' But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to 'be happy'.
— Viktor Frankl[58]

Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor and founder of logotherapy. His philosophy revolved around the emphasis on meaning, the value of suffering, and responsibility to something greater than the self;[59] only if one encounters those questions can one be happy.

Robert Nozick

Robert Nozick (1938-2002) was an American philosopher.[60]

In his 1974 book, Anarchy, State, Utopia, he proposed a thought experiment where one is given the option to enter a machine that would give the maximum amount of unending hedonistic pleasure for the entirety of one's life.

Scientism

Scientism is the approach that the empirical sciences are the most valuable branches of learning and culture.

Happiness research

Happiness research is the quantitative and theoretical study of happiness, positive and negative affect, well-being, quality of life, life satisfaction and related concepts. It is especially influenced by psychologists, but also sociologists and economists have contributed. The tracking of Gross National Happiness or the satisfaction of life grow increasingly popular as the economics of happiness challenges traditional economic aims.[61]

Richard Layard has been very influential in this area. He has shown that mental illness is the main cause of unhappiness.[62] Other, more influential researchers are Ed Diener, Ruut Veenhoven and Daniel Kahneman.

Sonja Lyubomirsky

Sonja Lyubomirsky asserted in her 2007 book, The How of Happiness, that happiness is 50 percent genetically determined (based on twin studies),[63] 10 percent circumstantial, and 40 percent subject to self-control.[64][65][66] Lyubomirsky suggests a twelve-point program to maximize the final 40 percent.

Cultures not seeking to maximise happiness

Not all cultures seek to maximise happiness,[67][68][69] and some cultures are averse to happiness.[70][71][72]

See also

Hendrik ter Brugghen - Democritus
Democritus by Hendrick ter Brugghen, 1628.

Democritus is known as the ‘laughing philosopher’ because of his emphasis on the value of ‘cheerfulness.’[73]

References

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  2. ^ Happiness. stanford.edu. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. 2011.
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  4. ^ Joshua Olsen, Plato, Happiness and Justice
  5. ^ Richard D. Mohr, "A Platonic Happiness". History of Philosophy Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Apr., 1987), pp. 131-145.University of Illinois.
  6. ^ Daniel N. Robinson. (1999). Aristotle's Psychology. Published by Daniel N. Robinson. ISBN 0-9672066-0-X ISBN 978-0967206608
  7. ^ Book I Chapter 1 1094a.
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  9. ^ Xenophon, Symposium, iv. 41.
  10. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, vi. 3
  11. ^ CynicsThe Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  12. ^ "The Stoic Sage". ancientworlds.net.
  13. ^ Diogenes Laërtius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, ii. 96-97
  14. ^ Diogenes the Cynics: Sayings and Anecdotes with Other Popular Moralists, trans. Robin Hard. Oxford University Press, 2012. Page 152.
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  25. ^ Emily Wilson, The Greatest Empire: A Life of Seneca. Oxford University Press, 2014. p.54-55
  26. ^ St. Augustine, Confessions. Trans, Henry Chadwick. Oxford University Press, 2008. p:3
  27. ^ St. Augustine, Confessions. Trans, Henry Chadwick. Oxford University Press, 2008. p:199
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  29. ^ https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ethics-everyone/201106/achieving-hapGenesis creation narrativepiness-advice-augustine
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  34. ^ Dante identified Boethius as the "last of the Romans and first of the Scholastics" among the doctors in his Paradise (see The Divine Comedy and also below).
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  37. ^ Engebretson, Kath; Souza, Marian de; Durka, Gloria; Gearon, Liam (17 August 2010). International Handbook of Inter-religious Education. google.ca. ISBN 9781402092602.
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  40. ^ Bowering, Gerhard. "[Untitled]." Rev. of The Alchemy of Happiness Translated by Claud Feild and Revised by Elton L. Daniel. Journal of Near Eastern Studies July 1995: 227-28. Print
  41. ^ Bodman Jr., Herbert L. "(untitled)." Rev. of The Alchemy of Happiness Translated by Claud Feild and Revised by Elton L. Daniel. Journal of World History Fall 1993: 336-38. Print.
  42. ^ Imam Muhammad Al-Ghazali (1910). "The Alchemy of Happiness". Retrieved 8 January 2016. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  43. ^ Maimonides: Abū ʿImrān Mūsā [Moses] ibn ʿUbayd Allāh [Maymūn] al‐Qurṭubī [1]
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  53. ^ a b "Bentham, Jeremy - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy". utm.edu.
  54. ^ Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Idea. Cologne 1997, Volume One, §52th.
  55. ^ "Władysław Tatarkiewicz," Encyklopedia Polski, p. 686.
  56. ^ Herbert Marcuse. stanford.edu. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. 2017.
  57. ^ Marcuse, Herbert (1991). "Introduction to the Second Edition". One-dimensional Man: studies in ideology of advanced industrial society. London: Routledge. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-415-07429-2.
  58. ^ "A Lesson About Happiness From A Holocaust Survivor - Business Insider". Business Insider. 22 October 2014.
  59. ^ "A Psychiatrist Who Survived the Holocaust Explains Why Meaningfulness Matters More Than Happiness".
  60. ^ Feser, Edward (4 May 2005). "Nozick, Robert". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  61. ^ Richard Layard, 2006. "Happiness and Public Policy: A Challenge to the Profession," Economic Journal, 116(510), Conference Papers, pp. C24-C33.
  62. ^ Happiness: Lessons from a New Science. Penguin. 7 April 2011.
  63. ^ Sonja Lyubomirsky, David Schkade and Kennon M. Sheldon, "Pursuing Happiness: The Architecture of Sustainable Change," Review of General Psychology, Vol. 9, No. 2, 111–131, 2005
  64. ^ "Are You Happy? by Sue Halpern". nybooks.com. 3 April 2008.
  65. ^ http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9781594201486,00.html
  66. ^ "News : Press Enterprise". pe.com.
  67. ^ Hornsey, Matthew J.; Bain, Paul G.; Harris, Emily A.; Lebedeva, Nadezhda; Kashima, Emiko S.; Guan, Yanjun; González, Roberto; Chen, Sylvia Xiaohua; Blumen, Sheyla (2018). "How Much is Enough in a Perfect World? Cultural Variation in Ideal Levels of Happiness, Pleasure, Freedom, Health, Self-Esteem, Longevity, and Intelligence" (PDF). Psychological Science (Submitted manuscript). 29 (9): 1393–1404. doi:10.1177/0956797618768058. PMID 29889603.
  68. ^ See the work of Jeanne Tsai
  69. ^ See Life,_Liberty_and_the_pursuit_of_Happiness#Meaning_of_"happiness" ref. the meaning of the US Declaration of Independence phrase
  70. ^ Joshanloo, Mohsen; Weijers, Dan (2014). "Aversion to Happiness Across Cultures: A Review of Where and Why People are Averse to Happiness". Journal of Happiness Studies. 15 (3): 717–735. doi:10.1007/s10902-013-9489-9.
  71. ^ "Study sheds light on how cultures differ in their happiness beliefs".
  72. ^ Also June Gruber http://www.gruberpeplab.com/people.php#director suggests that seeking happiness can have negative effects, such as failed over-high expectations, http://gruberpeplab.com/research.php and instead advocates a more open stance to all emotions. https://www.theguardian.com/science/audio/2018/jul/20/the-dark-side-of-happiness-science-weekly-podcast Other research has analysed possible trade-offs between happiness and meaning in life.https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17439760.2013.830764 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17439760.2015.1117129?src=recsys https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/the-differences-between-happiness-and-meaning-in-life/
  73. ^ Democritus. stanford.edu. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. 2016.

Further reading

External Links

  • Happiness, BBC Radio 4 discussion with Angie Hobbs, Simon Blackburn and Anthony Grayling (In Our Time, Jan. 24, 2002)
Asaad Wahda

As'ad Wahda (Arabic: أسعد واحدة‎) is the eighth studio album by Lebanese singer Elissa released by Rotana on Jun 19, 2012, making it her fifth album released by Rotana Records.

Derren Brown

Derren Brown (born 27 February 1971) is an English mentalist, illusionist, and author. Since his television debut with Derren Brown: Mind Control in 2000, Brown has produced several other shows for the stage and television in both series and specials. His 2006 stage show Something Wicked This Way Comes and his 2012 show Svengali won him two Laurence Olivier Awards for Best Entertainment. He has also written books for magicians as well as the general public.

Brown does not claim to possess any supernatural powers and his acts are often designed to expose the methods of those who do assert such claims, such as faith healers and mediums. In his performances, he often says that his effects are achieved through "magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection, and showmanship".

Epicureanism

Epicureanism is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, founded around 307 BC. Epicurus was an atomic materialist, following in the steps of Democritus. His materialism led him to a general attack on superstition and divine intervention. Following Aristippus—about whom very little is known—Epicurus believed that what he called "pleasure" (ἡδονή) was the greatest good, but that the way to attain such pleasure was to live modestly, to gain knowledge of the workings of the world, and to limit one's desires. This would lead one to attain a state of tranquility (ataraxia) and freedom from fear as well as an absence of bodily pain (aponia). The combination of these two states constitutes happiness in its highest form. Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism insofar as it declares pleasure to be its sole intrinsic goal, the concept that the absence of pain and fear constitutes the greatest pleasure, and its advocacy of a simple life, make it very different from "hedonism" as colloquially understood.

Epicureanism was originally a challenge to Platonism, though later it became the main opponent of Stoicism. Epicurus and his followers shunned politics. Epicureans shunned politics because it could lead to frustrations and ambitions which can directly conflict with the epicurean pursuit for peace of mind and virtues. After the death of Epicurus, his school was headed by Hermarchus; later many Epicurean societies flourished in the Late Hellenistic era and during the Roman era (such as those in Antiochia, Alexandria, Rhodes, and Ercolano). Its best-known Roman proponent was the poet Lucretius. By the end of the Roman Empire, being opposed by philosophies (mainly Neo-Platonism) that were now in the ascendant, Epicureanism had all but died out, but would be resurrected in the Age of Enlightenment.

Some writings by Epicurus have survived. Some scholars consider the epic poem On the Nature of Things by Lucretius to present in one unified work the core arguments and theories of Epicureanism. Many of the scrolls unearthed at the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum are Epicurean texts. At least some are thought to have belonged to the Epicurean Philodemus.

Epicurus

Epicurus (341–270 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher and sage who founded a highly influential school of philosophy now called Epicureanism. He was born on the Greek island of Samos to Athenian parents. Influenced by Democritus, Aristotle, Pyrrho, and possibly the Cynics, he turned against the Platonism of his day and established his own school, known as "the Garden", in Athens. Epicurus and his followers were known for eating simple meals and discussing a wide range of philosophical subjects, and he openly allowed women to join the school as a matter of policy. An extremely prolific writer, he is said to have originally written over 300 works on various subjects, but the vast majority of these writings have been lost. Only three letters written by him — the Letters to Menoeceus, Pythocles, and Herodotus — and two collections of quotes — the Principle Doctrines and the Vatican Sayings — have survived intact, along with a few fragments and quotations of his other writings. Most knowledge of his teachings comes from later authors, particularly the Roman poet Lucretius, the biographer Diogenes Laërtius, the statesman Cicero, and the philosophers Philodemus and Sextus Empiricus.

For Epicurus, the purpose of philosophy was to attain the happy, tranquil life, characterized by ataraxia—peace and freedom from fear— and aponia—the absence of pain— and by living a self-sufficient life surrounded by friends. He taught that the root of all human neurosis is death denial, and the tendency for human beings to assume that death will be horrific and painful, which he claimed causes unnecessary anxiety, selfish self-protective behaviors, and hypocrisy. According to Epicurus, death is the end of both the body and the soul and therefore should not be feared. Likewise, Epicurus taught that the gods, though they do exist, have no involvement in human affairs and do not punish or reward people for their actions. Nonetheless, he maintained that people should still behave ethically because amoral behavior will burden them with guilt and prevent them from attaining ataraxia.

Like Aristotle, Epicurus was an empiricist, meaning he believed that the senses are the only reliable source of knowledge about the world. He derived much of his physics and cosmology from the earlier philosopher Democritus (c. 460–c. 370 BC). Like Democritus, Epicurus taught that the universe is infinite and eternal and that all matter is made up of extremely tiny, invisible particles known as atoms. All occurrences in the natural world are ultimately the result of atoms moving and interacting in empty space. Epicurus deviated from Democritus in his teaching of atomic "swerve", which holds that atoms may deviate from their expected course, thus permitting humans to possess free will in an otherwise deterministic universe.

Though popular, Epicurean teachings were controversial from the beginning. Epicureanism reached the height of its popularity during the late years of the Roman Republic, before declining as the rival school of Stoicism grew in popularity at its expense. It finally died out in late antiquity in the wake of early Christianity. Epicurus himself was popularly, though inaccurately, remembered throughout the Middle Ages as a patron of drunkards, whoremongers, and gluttons. His teachings gradually became more widely known in the fifteenth century with the rediscovery of important texts, but his ideas did not become acceptable until the seventeenth century, when the French Catholic priest Pierre Gassendi revived a modified version of them, which was promoted by other writers, including Walter Charleton and Robert Boyle. His influence grew considerably during and after the Enlightenment, profoundly impacting the ideas of major thinkers, including John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Jeremy Bentham, and Karl Marx.

Eudaimonia

Eudaimonia (Greek: εὐδαιμονία [eu̯dai̯moníaː]), sometimes anglicized as eudaemonia or eudemonia , is a Greek word commonly translated as happiness or welfare; however, "human flourishing or prosperity" and "blessedness" have been proposed as a more accurate translations.

Etymologically, it consists of the words "eu" ("good") and "daimōn" ("spirit"). It is a central concept in Aristotelian ethics and political philosophy, along with the terms "aretē", most often translated as "virtue" or "excellence", and "phronesis", often translated as "practical or ethical wisdom". In Aristotle's works, eudaimonia (based on older Greek tradition) was used as the term for the highest human good, and so it is the aim of practical philosophy, including ethics and political philosophy, to consider (and also experience) what it really is, and how it can be achieved.

Discussion of the links between virtue of character (ēthikē aretē) and happiness (eudaimonia) is one of the central concerns of ancient ethics, and a subject of much disagreement. As a result there are many varieties of eudaimonism. Two of the most influential forms are those of Aristotle and the Stoics. Aristotle takes virtue and its exercise to be the most important constituent in eudaimonia but acknowledges also the importance of external goods such as health, wealth, and beauty. By contrast, the Stoics make virtue necessary and sufficient for eudaimonia and thus deny the necessity of external goods.

Happiness

Happiness is used in the context of mental or emotional states, including positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. It is also used in the context of life satisfaction, subjective well-being, eudaimonia, flourishing and well-being.Since the 1960s, happiness research has been conducted in a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including gerontology, social psychology, clinical and medical research and happiness economics.

Jeremy Bentham

Jeremy Bentham (; 15 February 1748 [O.S. 4 February 1747] – 6 June 1832) was an English philosopher, jurist, and social reformer regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism.Bentham defined as the "fundamental axiom" of his philosophy the principle that "it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong." He became a leading theorist in Anglo-American philosophy of law, and a political radical whose ideas influenced the development of welfarism. He advocated for individual and economic freedoms, the separation of church and state, freedom of expression, equal rights for women, the right to divorce, and the decriminalising of homosexual acts. He called for the abolition of slavery, of the death penalty, and of physical punishment, including that of children. He has also become known as an early advocate of animal rights. Though strongly in favour of the extension of individual legal rights, he opposed the idea of natural law and natural rights (both of which are considered "divine" or "God-given" in origin), calling them "nonsense upon stilts". Bentham was also a sharp critic of legal fictions.

Bentham's students included his secretary and collaborator James Mill, the latter's son, John Stuart Mill, the legal philosopher John Austin, as well as Robert Owen, one of the founders of utopian socialism. He "had considerable influence on the reform of prisons, schools, poor laws, law courts, and Parliament itself."On his death in 1832, Bentham left instructions for his body to be first dissected, and then to be permanently preserved as an "auto-icon" (or self-image), which would be his memorial. This was done, and the auto-icon is now on public display at University College London (UCL). Because of his arguments in favour of the general availability of education, he has been described as the "spiritual founder" of UCL. However, he played only a limited direct part in its foundation.

Ludwig Marcuse

Professor Ludwig Marcuse (February 8, 1894 in Berlin – August 2, 1971 in Bad Wiessee), was a philosopher and writer of Jewish origin.

From 1933 to 1940 Marcuse lived in France, settling with other German exiles in Sanary-sur-Mer. From 1940 to 1950 he lived in Los Angeles. He returned to Germany at the end of his life.

In 1962, his non-fiction book Obscene: The history of an indignation was published. The work revolves around leading obscenity trials: Friedrich Schlegel's Lucinde (Jena, 1799), Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary (Paris, 1857), Arthur Schnitzler's Round Dance (Berlin, 1920), D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley (London, 1960), and Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer (Los Angeles, 1962). A chapter is also devoted to the crusade of Anthony Comstock and the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice.

Marcuse wrote non-fiction, mostly about the role of German literature in so far as that it was bound up with progressive and emancipatory philosophical, and political causes. These works include subjects like Heine, Börne, Georg Büchner, the development of the tragedy, Sigmund Freud, the philosophy of happiness, and several others.

His papers are held at the Feuchtwanger Memorial Library at the University of Southern California.Ludwig was not related to Herbert Marcuse, another exiled German intellectual from Jewish descent.

Meaningful life

In positive psychology, a meaningful life is a construct having to do with the purpose, significance, fulfillment, and satisfaction of life. While specific theories vary, there are two common aspects: a global schema to understand one's life and the belief that life itself is meaningful. Meaning can be defined as the connection linking two presumably independent entities together; a meaningful life links the biological reality of life to a symbolic interpretation or meaning. Those possessing a sense of meaning are generally found to be happier, to have lower levels of negative emotions, and to have lower risk of mental illness.

Mr. Money Mustache

Mr. Money Mustache is the website and pseudonym of 45-year-old Canadian-born blogger Peter Adeney. Adeney retired from his job as a software engineer in 2005 at age 30 by spending only a small percentage of his annual salary and consistently investing the remainder, primarily in stock market index funds. Adeney lives in Longmont, Colorado, and contends that most middle-class individuals can and should spend less money and own fewer physical possessions, and that they can live with increased financial freedom and happiness as well as a decreased environmental footprint as a result. He has described the typical middle-class lifestyle as "an exploding volcano of wastefulness," particularly citing the overuse of and overspending on new cars as an example. The blog has been featured and cited in various media outlets including Market Watch, CBS News, and The New Yorker, as well as others.

New Age

New Age is a term applied to a range of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices that developed in Western nations during the 1970s. Precise scholarly definitions of the New Age differ in their emphasis, largely as a result of its highly eclectic structure. Although analytically often considered to be religious, those involved in it typically prefer the designation of spiritual or Mind, Body, Spirit and rarely use the term "New Age" themselves. Many scholars of the subject refer to it as the New Age movement, although others contest this term and suggest that it is better seen as a milieu or zeitgeist.

As a form of Western esotericism, the New Age drew heavily upon a number of older esoteric traditions, in particular those that emerged from the occultist current that developed in the eighteenth century. Such prominent occult influences include the work of Emanuel Swedenborg and Franz Mesmer, as well as the ideas of Spiritualism, New Thought, Theosophy, Biosophy and the European Lebensreform movement. A number of mid-twentieth century influences, such as the UFO religions of the 1950s, the Counterculture of the 1960s, and the Human Potential Movement, also exerted a strong influence on the early development of the New Age. The exact origins of the phenomenon remain contested, but there is general agreement that it developed in the 1970s, at which time it was centred largely in the United Kingdom. It expanded and grew largely in the 1980s and 1990s, in particular within the United States. By the start of the 21st century, the term "New Age" was increasingly rejected within this milieu, with some scholars arguing that the New Age phenomenon had ended.

Despite its highly eclectic nature, a number of beliefs commonly found within the New Age have been identified. Theologically, the New Age typically adopts a belief in a holistic form of divinity that imbues all of the universe, including human beings themselves. There is thus a strong emphasis on the spiritual authority of the self. This is accompanied by a common belief in a wide variety of semi-divine non-human entities, such as angels and masters, with whom humans can communicate, particularly through the form of channeling. Typically viewing human history as being divided into a series of distinct ages, a common New Age belief is that whereas once humanity lived in an age of great technological advancement and spiritual wisdom, it has entered a period of spiritual degeneracy, which will be remedied through the establishment of a coming Age of Aquarius, from which the milieu gets its name. There is also a strong focus on healing, particularly using forms of alternative medicine, and an emphasis on a New Age approach to science that seeks to unite science and spirituality.

Centred primarily in Western countries, those involved in the New Age have been primarily from middle and upper-middle-class backgrounds. The degree to which New Agers are involved in the milieu varied considerably, from those who adopted a number of New Age ideas and practices to those who fully embraced and dedicated their lives to it. The New Age has generated criticism from established Christian organisations as well as modern Pagan and indigenous communities. From the 1990s onward, the New Age became the subject of research by academic scholars of religious studies.

Optimism

Optimism is a mental attitude reflecting a belief or hope that the outcome of some specific endeavor, or outcomes in general, will be positive, favorable, and desirable. A common idiom used to illustrate optimism versus pessimism is a glass filled with water to the halfway point: an optimist is said to see the glass as half full, while a pessimist sees the glass as half empty.

The term derives from the Latin optimum, meaning "best". Being optimistic, in the typical sense of the word, is defined as expecting the best possible outcome from any given situation. This is usually referred to in psychology as dispositional optimism. It thus reflects a belief that future conditions will work out for the best. For this reason, it is seen as a trait that fosters resilience in the face of stress.Theories of optimism include dispositional models, and models of explanatory style. Methods to measure optimism have been developed within both theoretical systems, such as various forms of the Life Orientation Test, for the original definition of optimism, or the Attributional Style Questionnaire designed to test optimism in terms of explanatory style.

Variation in optimism and pessimism is somewhat heritable and reflects biological trait systems to some degree. It is also influenced by environmental factors, including family environment, with some suggesting it can be learned. Optimism may also be linked to health.

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (Greek: Διονύσιος ὁ Ἀρεοπαγίτης), also known as Pseudo-Denys, was a Christian theologian and philosopher of the late 5th to early 6th century, who wrote a set of works known as the Corpus Areopagiticum or Corpus Dionysiacum.

The author pseudonymously identifies himself in the corpus as "Dionysios", portraying himself as the figure of Dionysius the Areopagite, the Athenian convert of Paul the Apostle mentioned in Acts 17:34. This false attribution to the earliest decades of Christianity resulted in the work being given great authority in subsequent theological writing in both East and West.

The Dionysian writings and their mystical teaching were universally accepted throughout the East, amongst both Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians, and also had a strong impact in later medieval western mysticism, most notably Meister Eckhart. Its influence decreased in the West with the fifteenth-century demonstration of its later dating, but in recent decades, interest has increased again in the Corpus Areopagiticum.

Robert Spitzer (priest)

Robert J. Spitzer (born May 16, 1952) is a Jesuit priest, philosopher, educator, author, speaker, and retired President of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.

Spitzer is founder and currently active as president of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing educational materials on the complementarity of science, philosophy, and faith. He is also president of the Spitzer Center of Ethical Leadership, dedicated to helping Catholic and for-profit organizations develop leadership, constructive cultures, and virtue ethics.

Sonja Lyubomirsky

Sonja Lyubomirsky (born December 14, 1966) is an American professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside and author of the bestseller The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want, a book of strategies backed by scientific research that can be used to increase happiness.She is often quoted in news articles about positive psychology and happiness. In the book The Only Self-Help Book You'll Ever Need, a criticism of self-help books, Lyubomirsky's The How of Happiness is praised as a self-help book that has claims backed by empirical data.Lyubomirsky is also an associate editor of the Journal of Positive Psychology.

Volodymyr Vynnychenko

Volodymyr Kyrylovych Vynnychenko (Ukrainian: Володимир Кирилович Винниченко, July 28 [O.S. July 16] 1880 – March 6, 1951) was a Ukrainian statesman, political activist, writer, playwright, artist, who served as 1st Prime Minister of Ukraine.As a writer, Vynnychenko is recognized in Ukrainian literature as a leading modernist writer in prerevolutionary Ukraine, who wrote short stories, novels, and plays, but in Soviet Ukraine his works were forbidden, like that of many other Ukrainian writers, from the 1930s until the mid-1980s. Prior to his entry onto the stage of Ukrainian politics, he was a long-time political activist, who lived abroad in Western Europe from 1906-1914. His works reflect his immersion in the Ukrainian revolutionary milieu, among impoverished and working-class people, and among emigres from the Russian Empire living in Western Europe.

Where-to-be-born Index

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s where-to-be-born index (previously called the quality-of-life index, abbreviated QLI) attempts to measure which country will provide the best opportunities for a healthy, safe and prosperous life in the years ahead. It is based on a method that links the results of subjective life-satisfaction surveys to the objective determinants of quality of life across countries along with a forward-looking element.

World peace

World peace, or peace on Earth, is the concept of an ideal state of happiness, freedom and peace within and among all people and nations on earth. This idea of world non-violence is one motivation for people and nations to willingly cooperate, either voluntarily or by virtue of a system of governance that objects it will be solved by love and peace. Different cultures, religions, philosophies and organisations have varying concepts on how such a state would come about.

Various religious and secular organisations have the stated aim of achieving world peace through addressing human rights, technology, education, engineering, medicine or diplomacy used as an end to all forms of fighting. Since 1945, the United Nations and the 5 permanent members of its Security Council (the US, Russia, China, France and the UK) have operated under the aim to resolve conflicts without war or declarations of war. Nonetheless, nations have entered numerous military conflicts since then.

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