Friday, October 05, 2007

Why Do We Want To Be Happy?

Pieper (1958) has argued that man by nature desires happiness, in the same manner that a falling stone 'seeks' the depths. By implication, the argument also affirms that happiness is one of those things that "the will is incapable of not willing."

I find these ideas interesting in their own right, but it also made me think about why, at a basic level, humans desire to be happy to begin with (instead of desiring not to be happy)? Furthermore, is it important/interesting to make the distinction between the desire to be happy and the act of being happy? Because it seems as though most humans likely perceive themselves to have a choice/right to be happy, while not realizing that the desire itself to be happy may not be a choice. Thoughts?

3 comments:

Mark said...

I've thought about that a lot actually, and I used to be a little disturbed by the fact that indeed we do not have a choice, as you said. It is a law just like gravitation. So your question is as futile as the question "why does matter attract matter?".

And it goes beyond "happiness" - it's all about motivation. We always do things we are motivated to do (of course happiness is usually the prime motivator).

When driving a car sometimes I think: why not cross over into the oncoming lane and cause some death and chaos? Don't get me wrong, I am not suicidal and I would never do that. But if I did, just to protest this "law of motivation" I would in fact still be abiding by the law, because suddenly I have motivation: I want to break free from this law. And if I was suicidal then that would be my motivation. But I could not choose do it without having any motivation. So you see the law is inescapable.

But think of how absurd the world would be without it - like a universe without gravity...

etienne said...

Interesting comment. Interesting how you invoke motivation as a necessary condition for the execution of any action.

However, isn't pondering how absurd the world would be without the law that motivation is needed for the execution of any action the same as pondering how absurd life would be without free will?

That is if one "believes" in free will to begin with...

etienne said...

oh ya mark, i tried acessing your blogger blog and it said you hadn't made it available. is that true?