Friday, November 25, 2005

Happiness is overrated - Raymond Belliotti

This is one of those books that you don’t necessarily agree with, but may be well worth reading anyway. To be fair, at present I haven’t read it in depth yet – this note is little more than a few headings combined with some of my comments.

It’s divided into 5 sections

  1. Greek, Roman and Christian Happiness

  • Happiness as moral and intellectual virtue

  • Happiness as flourishing

  • Happiness as radical asceticism

  • Happiness as hedonism

  • Happiness as tranquillity

  • Happiness as wordly transcendence

1.Happiness as moral and intellectual virtue

Socrates and Plato.
In the just man, reason rules appetite and emotion.
The just man cannot be harmed.
Happiness is equated with moral and intellectual virtue.
Happiness is an objective quality - you can be just as wrong about whether you are happy as you can be about whether you are healthy.
Plato believed that this world was but a shadow of the world of Forms, which constitutes a reality beyond this world. It is only in the context of the immortal soul that this theory makes much sense. “Philosophy is preparation for death.”
Surely moral virtue neither necessary (you are lucky) nor sufficient (you are unlucky) for happiness.

2.Happiness as flourishing


3.Happiness as radical asceticism

4.Happiness as hedonism

5.Happiness as tranquillity

6.Happiness as wordly transcendence

  • 2. Happiness Reconceived

  • Happiness as morally earned – Kant

  • Happiness as collective achievement – Hegel

  • Happiness as the greatest good for the greatest number – Mill

  • Happiness as illusion – Schopenhauer

  • Happiness as positive psychological state – modern psychologists
3.Contemporary Philosophical Views
More like psychological. Very little on who I consider to be the major philosophical thinkers eg Parfit, Griffin, Summer.

  • Philosophy and social science – accurate self-report of state of mind

  • Positive self-appraisal – evaluation as well as description

  • Accurate, positive self-appraisal

  • Connection to objective, preexisting good

4.The Paths to Happiness
Seems to be a summary of positive psychology – shame it doesn’t link more with the first part of the book.

  • Adjust expectations

  • Nurture relationships

  • Be optimistic and appreciative

  • Have faith

  • Make peace, not war

  • Be goal-oriented

  • Prioritise

  • Use leisure wisely, energise the senses, eat and exercise properly

  • Go with flow

  • Be lucky
6.The Meaning of Life
I think this is a summary of another book he wrote.

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Blogger witchy said...

I just started reading this book last night and am excited about what it seems to offer. I have long wished that more philosophers would (1) address the subject of human well-being and (2) integrate the recent discoveries of Positive Psychology into their research. You and Raymond Belliotti seem to be just about the only ones who do this, and for that I am grateful.

I've been a long-time fan of Belliotti's work (ever since reading Good Sex in the mid 1990s) so I am especially interested in what he has to say on this subject.

9:08 AM  

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