Is happiness objective or subjective?

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Is happiness objective or subjective?
voyaging
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Posted Jul 5, 2009 - 10:55 AM:
Subject: Is happiness objective or subjective?
In an ethical system such as utilitarianism, where happiness is the greatest good, is that happiness objective or subjective? If person A wants to make person B happy, would person A use the will of person B to do so, or would it be preferable, even against person B's will, to use their own version of happiness? What if person B's idea of happiness was detrimental to his well-being, such as being a heroin addict?
mayor of simpleton
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Posted Jul 5, 2009 - 11:52 AM:


"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony".
Mahatma Gandhi

"Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values".
Ayn Rand

"Happiness is something that you are and it comes from the way you think".
Wayne Dyer

"Happiness is essentially a state of going somewhere, wholeheartedly, one-directionally, without regret or reservation".
William H. Sheldon

"Happiness is not a reward - it is a consequence".
Robert Ingersoll

"Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing".
George Sheehan

"Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence".
Aristotle

"Happiness is not something you experience, it’s something you remember".
Oscar Levant

"Happiness is not a station you arrive at, but a manner of traveling".
Margaret Lee Runbeck

"Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude".
Denis Waitley

"Happiness is a self-define description of state of being inwhich one is happy".
MOS


All of the above are indicating that happiness is a valuation of circumstances inwhich one finds oneself. All valuations are connotative and are grounded in personal perspective. All valuations are subjective in nature.

Objective is the dennotation. What a thing is without connotative values.

Subjective is the connotations. This is perception of examples. All examples one can list.

Happiness is founded on experience of examples and is subjective.

Good or bad are valuations as well, thus connotative and subjective.

The only objective happiness is to say, it is what makes one happy without example or value. Simply saying what happiness is as a word. All examples remove dennotation and replaces it with particular context and a whole host of connotations.

Utilitarianism is a moral system and relative to the one defining the system. Utilitarianism is subjective.

Meow!

GREG
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Posted Jul 5, 2009 - 12:07 PM:

Still happiness would be subjective.
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Posted Jul 5, 2009 - 12:25 PM:

What if there was a man who valued being drunk over anything, and was an extreme binge drinker; would it be better to show him the wrong of his ways even against his subjective values, or would it be better to just give him some booze?
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Posted Jul 5, 2009 - 1:20 PM:

That is a big problem. Who knows true objective values? The drunk homeless would say:
"You are the same people that made me this way!",
"...and now you're trying to help me?",
"...just because you know that your head hurts when you drink to much, still doesn't give you the right to say what I'm doing is wrong!" The homeless would have to be a little sober to say that BTW.
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Posted Jul 5, 2009 - 6:38 PM:

Which form of Utilitarianism are we talking about? A classic John Stuart Mill formulation would have happiness being pleasure in the absence of pain. However he does discuss happiness as having both quantity and quality. We can know if a life has quality happiness if those who have lived two types of lives, both with happiness decide which one is better. For example someone who has both been pleasantly drunk on the beach and a scientist will tell you the science work was preferable. This is even though being pleasantly drunk on the beach created more happiness. Under this system happiness would supposedly be objective.

I would posit that happiness is not a matter of pleasure or pain at all. Rather we are happy if and only if we are in our preferred mental state A given circumstance C. For example if you are taking a philosophy exam you probably want to be alert, clear thinking, and studied. However if you are at a party you probably want to be social, lubricated, and worry free. Under my proposal happiness would be subjective, however given human beings are somewhat similar we could still make general predictions.

In the drunk case you mentioned(under my system) we would have an individual who's ideal mental state in most circumstances is the mental state produced by alcohol. The problem with determining which is better would be how this man is getting his alcohol, who his alcoholism may also be effecting. If for example this man obtains alcohol through a means which affects no one else's happiness negatively he would certainly not be evil in doing so. It might be said that choosing a life of alcoholism will however detract from your happiness throughout your whole life. This would largely be a result of hangovers, periods of time where our drunk is extremely far from happiness.

Edited by slap on Jul 5, 2009 - 6:44 PM
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Posted Jul 5, 2009 - 11:35 PM:

"What if there was a man who valued being drunk over anything, and was an extreme binge drinker; would it be better to show him the wrong of his ways even against his subjective values, or would it be better to just give him some booze"?

You answered your question with the example.

Our fellow who likes his drink VALUES it over anything else. His perspective subjective to his experiences.

Your question is also one of VALUE. "Is it better or not better too...?" This is your perspective subjective to your valuation of what makes one happy and what is self-deception. Where is the based? In your experiences.

Though looking for the "best" answer ("best" being a value accessment as well and a sujective perspective), you will in the end be making a value judgement based upon what information you accept to acknowledge(limited information, as no one can have "all" the information). The perspective, no matter how much you reasearch it and try to be objective, will be a subjective position. This is not bad or good, it just is so. One does the best with one can handle, but one should not assume to hold the keys to "THE" best. If so, one runs the risk of being a meglomanic. (I do not think this is a problem you have.)

Happiness is subjective. Thank heavens for that! How horrible it would be if it was the same for everyone. This would remove all the curiousity of life. Objective and Perfection are both very boring.

I will not deny the scientific evidence that accessive alchohol consumption is harmful to the body, but perhaps this harm makes one happy? It doesn't do it for me, but hey, I am me and not everyone. No one is everyone. Where is the difference between this and extreme sports, or a 6 course meal or a visit to an S&M Club?

I am not opposed to helping other as best we can, but one must have perspective as to the limits of ones assumptions. This acknowledgement is vital to working in any social intercourse.

It is the differences that make us what we are and unique and undefinable. Cool!

Meow!

GREG
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Posted Jul 15, 2009 - 2:46 PM:

Hi.
My answer to the question is 'yes' It's not a short subject. First thing that comes to mind is that in a Mills ethic- what veils 'happiness' as being subjective- such that eacy person would have to do both and compare the two internally (which oddly both 'feels right' as an answer on the subjectivity aspect, and 'feels wrong' in the 'logically private language'- in this case a lanugage concept "Happiness"- if I can compare 'happiness A- drunk on beach" to happiness B-being scientist to myself' then- two separate people, one a beachbum and the other a scientist can compare- at least intersubjetivel- the distinction. But that leaves an existential ur-subjective -or 'life plan' or 'differences in talent and interest hsitorically and psychologcially developed' issue- "Yes the scientist SEEMS awfully convincingly enthusistic, jumpint about waving her arms about how fun, exhillarating, how even the vexations are intriguiing, how nice the faculty housing is, the social staus- to 'be a scientist'. And me here calm and tranquil enjoying a midly inebriated heart-healthy life sipping red wine at the shore- I don't seem as happy- BUT- what would it be like for ME to be a scientist? I am bad at math, I don't work well with tearms, I have no talent for finding much less writing research grants, I get impatient with cross-comparisons and throw my hands up at any slight frustratin, I lack the skills to be a scientist without assitants and project guides, and yet I abhore working in role-designated team-collectives- it sounds like it would be an awful life, that of 'a scientist, for ME"--
In shorthand, utilitarian conceptions of subjectively felt or arrived at 'happiness'- and they need take on no lpl issues or ontologically wierd entities such as "happiness-for-Joe' as some either realist 'emotive thing' nor as some platonic 'form of happiness for Joe' which joe's own happiness somehow 'instantiates'- nor some descriptive problem nor translation indeterminacy vis Quine (gavagai- 'rabbit' vs 'interconnected slices of rabbitness through time' or "Science-gal saying 'Oh, when I say the word happiness, the conent referent 'just literally is' say - being willing to jump up and down at the prospect of being alternately vexed and satisified by working through physics problems and then appling them empirically and comparing resuls- what did YOU mean, Beachbum?.." - we can easily - I think, make sense from some reasonably roughly intelligble story across cases abotu how it is that for certain folks with certain talents and desires, perhaps causally reinforeced by this or that - even unintnded' (or intended, or mix of both) rewards and pleasures obtained of early inculcative exposures to either (Sicence gal "Im allergic to alcohol, and almost drowned at the beach when I was six, my favorite childhood experiences were nature-hiking with GrandMaMa and earning those hard-won but so rewarding A's in school"-- BB "I come from a long line of creative artistic and musical geinuses, but am the firt in my line to graduate grammar school, my uncle used to beat me when I didn't bring home an A... I ran away at 16 and found my one true love, the peace and serenity of simply 'driking at the beach'- painting in the wee hours and composing lyric poetry for a short while and then letting the lapping of the ocean waves'-- I'm sorry for the lenght but- 'causal stories' of how we develop such that we can find roughly-equivalent contexts-of-experience 'umpleasant' or 'pleasant' for us with out gong "That's just plain crazy-talk! Nobody can make any even first-order sense of what your'e saying at all! What wierd ontological realism baptizes that kind of jibber-jabber?" Come back when you're medication-complaint enough to make SOME sense of what 'we all' know to be true- that happiness isn't so subjective that no causal story could ever make sense of samenesses much less distinctions, it simply 'is' or 'is'! (Who's the crazytaker THERE?)
I don't want to fall on my 'intersubjectivty' sword here and vanish into philolsophical opacity just because the term countours nicely with our experience (or the way we can make linguistic and causal first-order sense of how others can FAIRLY dislike the very same thing we so dearly love" Just saying the 'if I were you...' explaition of making sense of the personally felt likes and dislkes of others can (and can readly) be made sense of in virtue of some causal story- and one that makes sense of some 'intial' way that beings of a certain- here comes ontology- ontological type such that they develop and their feelings and interests develop- and in a sense 'accumulate' and 'get sorted out by self-and-world reflections- consciousness howsoever described to supervene over brain states.. (supervene- make sense of it or refute it but thereby hangs a linguistic sensmaking not hardired to any particlar biology- that's what makes it 'ontological' rather than 'biological in virtue just and only of carbon based..' We can conceive of the pains and pleasure of
Um, and blah blah types such that those types "are develompmental types of critters who are aso conscious of feelings and response supervening over some or other real thing without being a 'realist type'..make good intersubjective sense of how our pleasures and displeasures come forth from some roughly developmental causal stories howsoever heterogenously they can come about but preserve the basic "We all know what some kernel of pleasure feels like..,what at base "aversion' or 'is emotionally difficult/painful' feels-like..
Yes, Virginia, emotins, feelings- are subjective, intersubjective, and ontological and linguistically stable with some types of beings (ones us, ones roughly comparable to us..) that have, and that develope bodily sensations that cause 'physical pain' that are not tied to but that are a good reason why we'd abstract and call emotional deep-aversions (howsoever arrived at)'painful' and likewise pleasurable.
Utilitarianist ethical projects speaking of 'pleasure' and 'pain' as 'good' and 'bad' in the normative senese? These ARE the guys that gave us the 'equivlaent emotional happiness brought about by engaging the game of pushpin by some who lie that and the works of Pushkin by those who like that'- The normative aspect (either does or doesn't) become objective in what I think is deceptively oversimplified kantian constructivism, all gussied up in Rule Utilitarian clothes (in one aspect, and perhaps one only but the right one to point to when talking about THAT kind of 'ethical objectvity' such that it 'maximizes what is the most truly thought to be the most deeply pleasurable of a life to have'- such that it fits some rule-universalzibility as a norm, causing the least pain for self and others enacting that rule". Happiness, then or at least the only way i can make sense of it MAKING sense- still has to swing back to some (not that U's nor RU's ever come clean about it philosophically) - yes here we go - ontology of persons such that some lives however pleasurable- cannot be thought to be happy" (and that would be your alcoholic- yoked by biology to some unfortuante dise wich - AND I think most people get it just really wrong about alcholism as a pathology'- not where 'drinking is pleasurable-- but where in virtue of that disease based or somehow unexplainable-otherwise, but persistent in an active alcoholi- where the ABSENCE of that chemical in their system- is (or is at least at first)- excruciatingly painful. It's sort of the odd-duck pathological excption where the absence of a toxin is (at least at first) painful. BUT- where being trapped by biology and circumstance into what I don't think anyone these days undertands as some sort of psychobiological pathology and NOT- in any clear nor direct way any sort of 'life choice freely entered into subsequently freely pursued in each drinking intance'- that even the person with the pathology considers in any rough way 'Happy!"
I think "but what of the drunk? But what of the crackhead?..." comes up just-because - unlike say 'schizophrenia'- how it is a pathology not a choice, while discovrable isn't as obvious. (I think the same IS true for many early stages of biological brain disorders, such as say schizophrenia "Why are you CHOOSING to thnk of others as the enmey, why are you choosing to have those dark thoughts, come out to the park and chose that you romp around and socialize and choose to put the 'joy-generating' causals into your lifeplan, and joy will then obtain of you, as it does with us all"
but those ARE the quirky 'biologica states' upon which emotions and our consciousness of them supervenenes (and I really am okay with that, at least for now- it makes sense why empirical cultures still understood BOTH emotonal life development AND 'generating norms, understanding 'human life' as including some sort of life--plan, positing some sense of social virtes as- at least telologic norms. (Aristotle had no hard time with that JUST becasue we didn't have a robust discipline called 'neurobiology'.. say.)
Ending a bit short of a finish line here-- Or- I could be really wrong- I thought it over but I (obviosuly) didn't think it 'through'. But it's a FANTASTIC question to ask. (I think it's sort of THE question, in some senses, in ethics and for which -i've read no one account that can't be chopped at a the branches by anti-Quinian epistemics if not at the roots by our perennial intuitionists and such..
So- I wholeheartedly encourage anyone - who bothered even to find this thread on an intenet so filled with so many other ways to experience a life both 'happy and reasonably tought to be good) - to kick me in the proverbial coggiones (with arguments or even vague philosophical counterintutions- no steeltoed boots please) and jsut well, chew it to bits so I can at least know what I got disgracefully wronig or off or.. and hopefully how so.
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#9 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jul 19, 2009 - 12:50 PM:

Here's a video I stumbled upon (literally):

video.google.com/videoplay?...docid=-7822696446273926158

Edited by Incision on Aug 9, 2009 - 8:59 PM. Reason: capitalization, punctuation
mayor of simpleton
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#10 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Jul 21, 2009 - 11:40 PM:

Voyaging, I have a question...

Are you happy?

Prove it!

Can happiness be proven or do we just take one's word for it?

This add no clarity to the question, but it is interesting as happiness would share something with love and justice. They are things that just are and cannot be proven one way or the other.

Meow!

GREG

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