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  1. #51
    Entertaining Cracker five sounds's Avatar
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    i'd give em a high five, and say, "me either bro. F that S."
    You hem me in -- behind and before;
    you have laid your hand upon me.
    Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

  2. #52
    alchemist Legion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Opal View Post
    @ygolo, I think the confusion is stemming from our conceptions of happiness. After completing something meaningful but challenging I feel a more stable happiness than the brief relief of a good joke, though both sources of positivity are finite. I guess the belief that feelings are fundamentally chemical underpins my stance on this, as well as the belief we gravitate toward states that release these chemicals (physical closeness, security--to decrease stress, pleasant physical conditions, closure, intellectual improvement, achievement of any kind, etc.).
    Yes, this is why I don't think happiness is the be-all end-all. It's just friggin' chemicals! The chemicals send a message to our brain of "keep on going". So, happiness chemicals become associated with things that are good for the individiual.

    Oxytocin facilitates bonding. Dopamine activates when we achieve goals. Several such chemicals are associated with exercise.

    It is these activities themselves which are valuable, happiness only points us in the right direction (or, at times, the wrong direction).
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  3. #53
    I could do things Hard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    The context in this case is in relation to the philosophy of Hedonism.

    From Wikipedia:
    Hedonism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Hedonism is a school of thought that argues that pleasure is the primary or most important intrinsic good.
    That's not what I mean by context. I mean the individual that would be in question. What are their life circumstances? What is their background? What are they like? To me this question really can't be answered in a vacuum or on a theoretical level. I mean it could be, but I'd find the answer to be unsatisfying.
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  4. #54

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    @Opal, I figured this. But for me the surprising thing is that you seem to be saying that the things you mentioned give you the same feelings, just different durations. (I am probably misinterpreting.) Like I said, completing something difficult doesn’t give me the same feeling at all as hearing a good joke. It is not just a matter of duration for me.

    Also, “The release of chemicals” is pretty vague (perhaps not as vague as “happiness”). Considering how little we know, and considering how complicated what we do know is, I don’t know how that changes our discussion. I believe the conflation of all the different forms of happiness is detrimental to society at large, and can create more suffering for people who don’t conflate these different forms of happiness.

    @five sounds, thanks for that

    @lowtech redneck, this is what I was getting at. There are a lot of us who care nothing (or very little) for the mood form of happiness. But, at least in the circles I’ve been in, especially in my explorations of spirituality, this form of happiness is used as the yardstick of wisdom.

    @Legion @Opal, a thought experiment I often use to highlight an extreme case of this difference in point of view is to consider the following great scientific endeavor (next in line with the moon landing and the human genome project): Find drugs that will continually make everyone in society “happy” by stimulating the reward centers of their brains.

    @Hard, I understand wanting to make things more real. But this is not meant to be an issue in vacuum, nor an issue just in theory, but one that addresses a societal and [b]systemic[\b] issue. I meant to have people examine their preconceptions of happiness, and most especially, examine knee-jerk reactions regarding the notion of happiness.

    Asking for specific cases for individuals is often a trick used to ignore systemic issues. I am sure you are not doing that. But that is why I have hesitated giving individual context, because I believe the appropriate context is cultural not individual.

    Still, in my case, the places where I have found this “happiness yardstick” to be problematic is in the context of seeking counsel or wisdom. So, instead of giving an individual case, (whose specifics could be used to circumvent a societal problem), I will give a few different (not even close to exhaustive) individual cases.

    Case 1: A person is having trouble motivating themselves in school or work. He dislikes doing anything difficult. When he seeks counsel, the advice he’s given is to do what makes him happy. He responds that nothing similar to work makes him happy, and not much at all makes him feel good. Nevertheless, he derives meaning from doing difficult things, and says he doesn’t care much for feeling good.

    Case 2: A person’s mood fluctuates wildly and the fluctuations seem to have nothing to do with anything. She is trying to find a direction in life, and seeks counsel from friends and family. She is told to do what makes her happy. She responds by saying she doesn’t think that’s reliable, and that happiness is fleeting.

    Case 3: Someone is looking for spiritual nourishment and wisdom regarding life. She derived meaning from finding principles to apply to all arenas of life, but in spiritual matters, she sees that the yardstick is often “happiness”. She says she doesn’t derive much meaning from feeling good.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
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  5. #55
    I could do things Hard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    @Hard, I understand wanting to make things more real. But this is not meant to be an issue in vacuum, nor an issue just in theory, but one that addresses a societal and [b]systemic[\b] issue. I meant to have people examine their preconceptions of happiness, and most especially, examine knee-jerk reactions regarding the notion of happiness.
    I'll repeat: I can't answer unless it's case by case. Outside of that I don't feel there is an answer, or it gets into semenatical discussions that I have no interest in or would bore me to tears.
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  6. #56

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hard View Post
    I'll repeat: I can't answer unless it's case by case. Outside of that I don't feel there is an answer, or it gets into semenatical discussions that I have no interest in or would bore me to tears.
    What about the three cases I listed, I can offer more detail if needed.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
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    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  7. #57
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    Someone is looking for spiritual nourishment and wisdom regarding life. She derived meaning from finding principles to apply to all arenas of life, but in spiritual matters, she sees that the yardstick is often “happiness”. She says she doesn’t derive much meaning from feeling good.
    The powerful do not want us to ask, what does it mean? Rather the powerful want us to be on the treadmill constantly seeking happiness.

    If we asked what it meant, the powerful may have to limit their power and even share power, and we can't have that. So instead we are misdirected away from meaning to happiness, and it works.

    For instance, when I suggested we find meaning rather than happiness by reading The Meaning of Meaning, I received a private message sneering at the very phrase, meaning of meaning, even though the book The Meaning of Meaning was written in 1926 and discussed ever since.

    The corruption of the mind has taken deep and permanent root. The anti-intellectuals sneer at the very idea of meaning.

  8. #58
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    I think this hits at the core of the misunderstanding. Happiness is indeed a vague term. But I believe that it is the word that modern hedonists use when talking about what they value, advising friends in need, seeking advice, planning life decisions, etc.
    Granted, modern hedonists will not call themselves hedonists. But what else would you call a philosophy of maximizing happiness? Especially if that philosophy remains unexamined?
    Utilitarianism. That's what I call it, but I've examined it. However every philosophy comes in examined and unexamined forms and one probably doesn't need differentiating names for them all.

    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    With respect to the philosophy of hedonism, could a doctor justify the years of medical school, the painful losses of patients, the rigors of a high stress job, for the momentary look back on the rather mild contentment in terms of mood?
    To continue answering in the vein I could consider utilitarian, that depends on how much there is of each. How much of those negative things vs how many of the positive things (which mostly likely would not just be that one moment of reflection). If there is ultimately more positive, then the answer is yes. It's really slightly more complicated if we consider the concept of alternative choices and optimal amounts of happiness, but the answer is basically yes. It's all basically a kind of cost-benefit analysis.
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  9. #59

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    The anti-intellectuals sneer at the very idea of meaning.
    Indeed they do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    Utilitarianism. That's what I call it, but I've examined it. However every philosophy comes in examined and unexamined forms and one probably doesn't need differentiating names for them all.



    To continue answering in the vein I could consider utilitarian, that depends on how much there is of each. How much of those negative things vs how many of the positive things (which mostly likely would not just be that one moment of reflection). If there is ultimately more positive, then the answer is yes. It's really slightly more complicated if we consider the concept of alternative choices and optimal amounts of happiness, but the answer is basically yes. It's all basically a kind of cost-benefit analysis.
    My claim is that the cost-benefit analysis when done regarding pleasure would come out negative in many cases where meaning is sought instead.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
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    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
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  10. #60
    alchemist Legion's Avatar
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    Oh my god that would be terrible if they designed drugs to keep you happy. People would have nothing left to live for, they would just live for these drugs. We need to realise that happiness is a means, not an end.
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