Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Happiness Tethered to Desire

If we imagine a man who wants nothing, do we imagine a happy man? Or if not a happy man, a man capable of happiness? What is happiness apart from a man's desire?

Of course we can define happiness in different ways, which means that there are possible definitions of happiness that do not require desire. Instead, lets focus on our gut understanding of happiness, the kind we inherit from culture and biology prior to reflection.

With that foggy notion of happiness, is it possible without desire? Is it possible without wanting something? I do not think I can conceive of it.

It may be pointed out that if we conceive of happiness this way, then we can conceive of a negative happiness as well, what would probably be called suffering. Suffering that would also depend upon desire. By wanting and having our desires frustrated we would experience pain.

To opt out of the game and try to quiet one's desires so that all suffering is manageable would also be to deny ourselves happiness. Happiness, under this conception, carries the risk of greater suffering. Is there a way around this? Would we really be better off escaping the risk of suffering? 

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