Fall 2013 Happiness Class Class Notes 1

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Return to Happiness

September 3, 2013

First Class Topics

  • Course, Material, and Goals
  • Course Methods and web sites
  • Course website
  • Course wiki
  • Einstruction site.
  • A typical prep cycle for the course: read, engage, review, prep SQs.
  • 6 hours / week !
  • Grading Schemes
  • Ereserves - pdf printing encouraged.

September 5, 2013

1. Classical Greek Models of Happiness

1. The Greek Philosophical Models in Plato and Aristotle
  • Contrast the Symposium with the cult of Dionysius
  • Reasoning our way to the Good (Happiness). Symposium as purification ritual. bad desire/good desire
  • Object of desire is transcendent. (Reminder about Platonic metaphysics.)
Aristotle (note McMahon pp. 41ff and Aristotle reading)
  • end, function, craft, techne. Hierarchy of arts.
  • end vs. final end -- the universal good is the final end, not relative. sec. 6-7.
  • happiness as activity of the soul in accordance with virture (def., but also consequence of reasoning from nature of human life)
  • Section 13: nature of the soul. two irrational elements: veg/appetitive and one rational. Note separation/relationship.
2. The Greek Cultural Model
  • Connection of the culture with tragedy, appreciate of fate, happiness as gift of gods.
  • Dionysian culture
  • Post-Socratic Schools -- Hellenism and Hellenistic culture

2. Some Comments on Philosophical Method.

  • first example from first class day: listing phenomena, making distinctions, posing questions, looking for relationships.

3. Two Roads to Happiness and self-consciousness about Happiness as a global human achievement.

September 10

Haidt, Happiness Hypothesis, ch. 5

  • Major theme -- happiness as internal or external pursuit.
  • Buddha and Epictetus take a relatively "internal" path. Haidt suggests research shows this to be somewhat extreme -- there are things to strive for outside of yourself, happiness in the journey ("progress principle") "Things won are done; joy's soul lies in the doing."
  • Haidt's list of happiness makers and unmakers(correlates and major causes)
  • Adaptation (habituation), hedonic treadmill, set point theory,
  • Bob and Mary comparison (87): relationship, meaningfulness. Bob's list more susceptible to adaptation.
  • Happiness Formula
  • H = Set point + Conditions + Voluntary action
  • understanding lack of adaptation for cosmetic surgery. what's shallow vs. what matters.
  • from 92f: Noise, Commuting, Lack of Control, Shame, Relationships,
  • "It is vain to say that human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it." (Charlotte Bronte, 1847)
  • Complicating factors
  • Flow and Seligman's strengths test www.authentichappiness.org
  • Comparisons and biases. Conspicuous consumption.
  • Schwartz maximizers and satisficers.

Schimmack, "The Structure of SWB"

  • Section 1: Structure of Cognitive Well-Being: Relationships among LS and DS and within Domains of DS
  • Review basic diagram on p. 98.
  • bottom up vs. top down -- see conclusion at
  • problems of measurement -- "shared method variance"
  • more sophisticated model -- domain importance
  • Research Question: What could explain variance in LS besides DS?
  • Positive illusions
  • Money
  • "direct evidence" of bottom up theory -- if people are thinking of important domains while assessing LS, then. ... 107
  • Section 2: Structure of Affective Well-Being: What explains independence of PA and NA? Are they really independent?
  • structural - imp. research by Diener, Smith, and Fujita (p. 109) verify independence, crit. Bradburn. "The more items assess pure valence and focus on pervasive moods rather than emotional episodes, the more negative is the correlation between PA and NA."
  • causal - maybe neuroticism drives NA and extraversion drives PA? Note Conclusion.
  • momentary - 114: "PA and NA can be independent over extended time periods, even if they are fully dependent at each moment. "It. For example, even if love and hate were mutuallyexclusive at one moment in time, some individuals could experience more loveand more hate over extended periods of time than others (Bradbum, 1969;Schimmack & Diener, 1997).
  • Section 3: Relationship of Cognitive and Affective Well-Being
  • high correlation, but also highly variable in studies
  • explaining the correlation: people access information about PA/NA differently in making LS judgement.
  • other researchers (117) rely on external factors to explain PA and then an indirect influence on LS.

Philosophical Method

  • Schimmack article gives a sense of how social science hypotheses about well-being are advanced and evaluated within quantitative methods of psychology and sociology. We'll try to picture that model since, as philosophers, we will want to make proper use of its results.
  • Terms to distinguish: Reality / Measurement / Hypotheses / Construct (Theory)

September 12

Argyle, Causes and Correlates of Happiness

  • Age
  • Education
  • Social Status
  • Income
  • Marriage
  • Ethnicity
  • Employment
  • Leisure
  • Religion
  • Life Events

Synopsis by major factor:

  • Age
  • The older are slightly happier, notably in postive affect. Some evidence that women become less happy with age. In assessing causality, we might need to acknowledge a cohort effect (older people are those who survive, hence not nec. representative of a sampling of all age groups). Older people are less satisfied than others with their future prospects.
  • Old people could have lower expectations, and hence their greater self-reported happiness might not be comparable to a younger person's self-reported happiness.
  • Puzzle: objective conditions are worse for old people (health, depression and loneliness!), yet they are more satisfied. (Neural degeneration has got to be on the table as a hypothesis.)
  • Education
  • The educated are slightly happier. Effect weak in US. Data suggest the education effect is greater in poorer countries. Control for income and job status effects and there is still a slight effect from education. [From personal achievement?] But income and job status account for most of the education effect.
  • Social Status
  • About twice the effect of education or age, but half of the effect is from job status. Greater effect for stratified societies. [Comment on being a professor in Italy, for example.]
  • Income
  • Average correlation of .17 across studies. See chart on p. 356 -- curvilinear, with slight upward tail at highest incomes. (intriguing)
  • Steep relation of income from poverty to material sufficiency.
  • Diener found a stronger correlation when using multiple income measures (such and GNP, purcasing power indexes, etc.)
  • Famous Myers and Diener 1996 study: "In the United States, average personal income has risen from $4,000 in 1970 to $16,000 in 1990 (in 1990 dollars), but there has been no change in average happiness or satisfaction." Some evidence that happiness is sensitive to economic downturns (Belgium), some evidence of variation in strength of effect across culture.
  • Lottery winner studies may not be a good way to test income effects since you get lots of disruptions with winning the lottery.
  • Cluster effect with income: Income comes with host of other goods: p. 358.
  • Michalo's "goal achievement gap model" p. 358: "whereby happiness is said to be due to the gap between aspirations and achievements and this gap is due to comparisons with both "average folks" and one's own past life (see figure 18.3).
Other Resources:
  • Kahneman and Deaton, "High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being"
  • Graham, et. al, "The Easterlin Paradox and Other Paradoxes: Why both sides of the Debate May be Correct"
  • Marriage
  • Average effect from meta-analysis of .14. Stronger effects for young. Does more for women than men, though stronger effect on male health.
  • Causal model: Married people have higher social well being indicators (mental and physical health). These indicators are independent factors for happiness. Marriage is a source of emotional and material support. Married people just take better care of themselves. Men might benefit from emotional support more since women provide that to male spouses more than males? (differently?)
  • Effects of marriage has a life-stage dimension to them. (figure 18.4) Having children has a small effect.
  • Reverse causation is a consideration, but hard to support since 90% of people get married.
  • Good example in this section of distinguishing between correlational data and causal discussion.
  • Ethnicity
  • Widely confirmed studies show that average happiness for US African Americans is lower than for US whites.
  • Mostly accounted for by income, education, and job status.
  • Interestingly, African American children enjoy higher self-esteem than white kids.
  • Employment
  • Studies of unemployed and retired help isolate effects.
  • Unemployed sig less happy: "The unemployed in nearly all countries are much less happy than those at work. Inglehart (1990) found that 61 percent of the unemployed were satisfied, compared with 78 percent of manual workers."
  • Causal model: income and self-esteem account for most of effect.
  • Leisure
  • Relatively strong correlation: .2 in meta-studies.
  • Leisure effects observed in lots of contexts (social relations from work, adolescent leisure habits, even a short walk. Sport and exercise include both social effects and release of endorphins.
  • Flow is a factor. Comparisons of high engagement and high apathy (tv) leisure activities.
  • TV watching as a leisure activity. Soap opera watchers!
  • Volunteer and charity work were found to generate high levels of joy, exceeded only by dancing!
  • Religion
  • The strength of religion on happiness is positive, sensitive to church attendance, strength of commitment, related to meaningfulness and sense of purpose (an independent variable). Overall modest effect, but stronger for those more involved in their church. note demographic factors.
  • Reverse causation: Are happier people more likely to be religious?
  • Causal model: Religion works through social support, increasing esteem and meaningfulness.
  • Kirpatrick 1992 study: self-reported relationship with God has similar effects as other relationships.
  • Life events and activities (especially on affect)
  • "' A study in five Eu European countries found that the main causes of joy were said to be relationships with friends, the basic pleasures of food, drink, and sex, and success experiences (Scherer etal. 1986)."..."Frequency of sexual intercourse also correlates with happiness, as does satisfaction with sex life, being in love, and frequency of interaction with spouse, but having liberal sexual attitudes has a negative relationship." "...alcohol, in modest doses, has the greatest effects on positive mood."

Diener and Suh, National Differences in SWB

With this article, income is once again highlighted as a factor, but now in the context of cross nation comparisons. The major issue here is, "How does culture and national grouping interact with perceptions and judgements of happiness? (Note problem of relation of national borders to tribe, ethnicity, and region.)
Methodological Difficulties:
  1. Wealth is clustered with other factors that predict H, such as right, equality, fulfillment of needs, and individualism.
  2. Transnational similarities (p. 435, in all nations most people are happy) might reflect some tendency to for judgements to be group-relative.
  3. General validity concerns about self reports are offset by research using multiple measures.
  4. Example of Russian / US student comparison, 437
  5. Are nations meaningful units of analysis? Looking at subgroups suggests yes.
After accounting for measurement and methodological issues, there are real and substantive differences in well-being across nations. While wealthier nations are generally happier, there are complexities to the causal model. National income correlates with non-economic goods such as rights, equality, fulfillment of basic needs, and individualism. These factors have effects on both SWB and income that have not been isolated.
Individualism correlates with higher reported SWB, but also higher suicide rates. Collectivists may be working with a different model of happiness or just a different attitude about its importance. (Carol Graham, Happiness Around the World, is the main succeesor research that I'm aware of. 1999 vs. 2009).
Different models for explaining cultural differences are presented:
  1. innate needs approach, Veenhoven, explains lack of growth in SWB in rich countries.
  2. theory of goal striving, SWB relative to goal pursuits, which are different between rich and poor nations.
  3. models of emotional socialization, different cultures/nations social young to affect in different ways.
  4. genetic explanations.

Typical Image for the Easterlin Paradox

Typical Image for Myers Diener / Easterlin Paradox --from Layard, Happiness

Small Group Exercise

After reviewing the four major theoretical approaches to explaining national differences in SWB, compare the theories in terms of the things they explain well or poorly, as well as your intuitions about each theory.

September 17

Haidt, "The Divided Self"

Chapter 1. The Divided Self

  • metaphors from Plato. H's: elephant and rider.
  • discusses a number of preliminary distinctions:
  • Mind vs. Body - gut brain. neurons all over.
  • Left vs. Right -Micharel Gazzaniga, collected evidence on split brain patients (severing corpus collasum to reduce seizures), controlled experiments with patients report of l/r brain function. split brains in everyday life...
  • New vs. Old -neo-cortex and frontal cortex recent - case of U VA schoolteacher in his forties who starts acting weird - massive tumor in frontal cortex. (Phineas Gage)
  • Controlled vs. Automatic - priming example, 13.
  • Failures of self control 18: Mischel and Impulse control [1] 19: Wegner on ironic processes (don't think of a white bear). point: shows automatic and controlled processes at odds.
  • Disgust 21: disgust - incest scenario -
22 q. statement about rider and elephant. "We make pronouncements, vows, and resolutions, and then are surprised by our own powerlessness to carry them out. We sometimes fall into the view that we are fighting with our unconscious, our id, or our animal self. But really we are the whole thing. We are the rider, and we are the elephant. Both have their strengths and special skills."

Small Group Exercise

Take each of the four distinctions Haidt makes and speculate about the implications of this feature of our brains for happiness. Then consider the overall picture of the evolved brain and ask yourselves where happiness fits in this natural history.

September 19

Darrin McMahon, Chapter 2, Perpetual Felicity

  • Note time period being covered:
  • Roman culture of happiness: propsperity, fertility, power, luck. Also images of simplicity.
  • Carpe Diem
  • Judaic term: Asher -- note how terms and concepts from Hellenic/Judaic/Roman cultures are being mixed.
  • Early Christian Model of Happiness -- radical inversion of classical and Roman thought.
  • Story of Perpetua and Felicitas. Martyrdom and Happiness.
  • Transitions in Christian thought on happiness after Early Christianity: Augustine, Pseudo-Dyonisius, Aquinas
  • Aquinas distinction between perfect and imperfect happiness.

Some General Points on Yoga

  • samadhi - the goal of the spiritual practice of yoga; ecstasy, union; a mystical experience of enlightenment
  • Yoga, defined in various ways, also in relation to Vedanta narrative. dualism and monism in yogic thought.
  • 3 periods pre-classical (or Vedanta), classical (Patanjali 2nd cent. CE), and post-classical (ex. Shankara, 8th cent). Important that Patanjali's period represents a dualist approach. Purusa / Prakrati. Spirit / Nature, roughly.
  • Teacher/disciple model.
  • Yogic is infused in multiple traditions: Hindu, Buddhist, and its own. Meditative figures on coins from 3,000 bc. Rig Veda has image of a yogi who, by achieving physical control through asanas (poses) and physical austerities (fasting, meditation, etc.) achieves access to a "deeper realm" of insights about reality.
  • Yoga in Bhagvad Gita: Arjuna, warrior, locked in battle with his own kin. Important conversation with Krishna. (Pre-classical)

Miller, Yoga: Discipline of Freedom, Introduction

  • This is an introduction to her edition / translation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.
  • "The aim of yoga is to eliminate the control that material nature exerts over the human spirit, to rediscover through introspective practice what the poet T. S. Eliot called the "still point of the turning world." " This is a state of perfect equilibrium and absolute spiritual calm, an interior refuge in the chaos of worldly existence. In the view of Patanjali, yogic practice can break habitual ways of thinking and acting that bind one to the corruptions of everyday life."
  • From Samkhya dualism: everything is a mix of prakrati and purusa.
  • The Three Gunas: Lucidity (sattva), Passion (rajas), and inertia (tamas).
  • follow Miller's discussion of thought proces (citta), "tyranny of uncontrollable thought," reducing thought "traces" or "seeds". goal to make thought "invulnerable" to the chaos of mental and physical stimuli. (discussion: And this is a good thing because....?)
  • In Patanjali:
  • First, there's a process of "unenlightenment" -- Purusa becomes bound to prakrati. Enlightenment is about undoing the this entanglement. (Note again connection with Buddhism, which comes much later.)
  • (from Farhi)
  • Five Kleshas in Patanjali:
  • 1. Avidha: Ignorance of our eternal nature
  • 2. Asmita: Seeing oneself as separate and divided from the rest ofthe world
  • 3. Raga: Attraction and attachment to impermanent things
  • 4. Dvesha: Aversion to the unpleasant
  • 5. Abhinivesha: Clinging to life because we fail to perceive the seamless continuity of consciousness, which cannot be broken by death (Yoga-Sutra 13)

  • Ashtanga Yoga -- eight fold program (from wikipedia):

Sanskrit English
Yama moral codes
Niyama self-purification and study
Asana posture
Pranayama breath control
Pratyahara sense control
Dharana intention
Dhyana meditation
Samadhi contemplation

Fahri, The Four Brahmavihara

The Brahmavihara are four attittudes Patanjali recommends developing:

  • 1. Friendliness toward the joyful
  • 2. Compassion for those who are sufferuig
  • 3. Celebrating the good in others
  • 4. Remaining impartial to the faults and imperfections of others(Yoga-Sutra 1.33)
  • Note Fahri's more "social" focus.
  • Follow, in some detail, her discussion of each Brahmavihara. Importance of cultivating empathy
  • Note how this stands philosophical wisdom on it's head.

Additional Quote on Goal of Yoga

from T. S. Rumani, " Samkhya-Yoga," Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy

Introduction to Meditation Practicum

We'll save 10 minutes at the end of class for those interested in hearing about the meditation practicum.

September 24

Introduction to Buddhism (from wikipedia)

  • The Four Noble Truths
1 There is suffering.
2 There is the origination of suffering: suffering comes into existence in dependence on causes.
3 There is the cessation of suffering: all future suffering can be prevented by becoming aware of our ignorance and undoing the effects of it.
4 There is a path to the cessation of suffering.
8 fold path. (see above and in Feuerstein.)

Division Eightfold Path factors Acquired factors
Wisdom (Sanskrit: prajñā, Pāli: paññā) 1. Right view 9. Superior right knowledge
2. Right intention 10. Superior right liberation
Ethical conduct (Sanskrit: śīla, Pāli: sīla) 3. Right speech
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
Concentration (Sanskrit and Pāli: samādhi) 6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right concentration

- from wikipedia.

Introduction to Buddhism (Siderits)

  • Background on Buddha
  • note heterodoxy, intro/dev karmic theory, moral teaching ind. of focus on ritual and deities.
  • consensus on "moksa" as goal of enlightenment. Buddha's teaching one of many.
  • Siderits presents sramanas as critical and questioning of heterodoxy.
  • The Four Noble Truths
1 There is suffering.
1. Normal pain. Decay, disease, death.
2. Suffering from ignorance of impermanence. Including ignorance of no-self. Suffering from getting what your want or don't want.
3. Suffering from conditions. Rebirth itself is a form of suffering. (So belief in rebirth doesn't solve the problem of suffering in one life.)
2 There is the origination of suffering: suffering comes into existence in dependence on causes.
Note the chain of causal connection advanced on p. 22 of Siderits: ignorance ultimate causes suffering, but the intermediate steps are important. Let's give a psychological reading of this metaphysical chain of causation.
3 There is the cessation of suffering: all future suffering can be prevented by becoming aware of our ignorance and undoing the effects of it. "It is the utter cessation and extinction of that craving, its renunciation,its forsaking, release from it, and non-attachment to it." (from pali canon reading)
4 There is a path to the cessation of suffering.
8 fold path. importance of meditation (p. 24)

  • Cessation of suffering: meditation, (non)self-discovery.
  • Need to assess this recommended "training program" more in light of Discourse on Mindfulness and the Eight Fold path (See wiki page Noble Eight Fold Path)
  • Note discussion of meditation, p. 25. Basic theory for mindfulness meditation exercise.
  • Liberation
  • rejection of presentism and annihilationism as models for liberation.
  • paradox of liberation: how can you desire liberation if liberation requires relinguishment of desire. Possible solution: to desire the end of suffering.
  • Problem following the consequences of "non-self": Buddhist maxim: "Act always as if the future of hte Universe depended on what you did, while laughing at yourself for thinking that whatever you do makes any difference."

Small Group Work

  • Problems and issues with suffering: What kinds of suffering are there? For Buddhists, for you. [Distinquish good/bad, nec/unnec, etc. Reassess after making these distinctions.]
  • Dependent Origin: what is it? Our cosmic and existential condition. Compare to alienation through original sin. In discussion, consider the psychological interpretation of it given in class. Raise critical points.
  • Think about the content of the "full" Buddhist training program (we'll scroll through a wiki summary of some of some of it, but as in Christianity, we have centuries of traditions and teachings involving hundreds of nationalities and ethnicities.) Try to speculate about how a moral training program such as this might make you happy.

Pali Canon, Greater Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness

  • "Mindfulness is also the seventh factor of the Noble Eightfold Path. By developing mindfulness, a person first observes the various aspects of one's being,then learns to control the mind and its reactions to external and internal stimuli."
  • Lots of material in here. Four foundations of mindfulness, five aggregates of attachement, six bases of sense, seven factors of enlightenment, four noble truths (51),
  • Some Points:
  • Mindfulness not disconnection from environment, but intense connection.
  • Note use of lists and repetition. inventories.
  • Note "joy and happiness born of detachment" 57

Second Introduction to self-guided mindfulness meditation

  • Read wiki page: [Meditation Exercises]
  • Goal is to experience a psychological "meditation effect," often in 3rd week. Characteristics. Psychological process.
  • Time, Place, Seating and Environment
  • Initial challenges
  • Maintaining comfortable alertness
  • Working with mental content: problem of thought suppression.
  • Techniques for dissipating mental content: visualizations, returning to breath, optical effects
  • 2nd to 4th week goals. Noticing changes in mental state (if any) pre post meditation. Noticing differences between different meditation experiences. Noticing changes in interaction with others, mood, or affect within hours of meditation.

September 26

Hellenistic Hedonism: Epicurus -- Letter to Menoeceus and Principal Doctrine

Key Idea: Pleasure is the Good. (Notice how that sets up the need for an original (relative to classical Greek philosophy) analysis of desire and pleasure.)

  • accepts reality of gods in spite of atomistic metaphysics
  • recall tetrapharmakos:

1. Don't fear gods. 2. Death is nothing. 3. What is good is easy to get. 4. What is evil is easy to endure.

  • Why not worry about the Gods? (fill in from Prinicipal Doctrines)
  • Why not worry about death?
  • Classification of desire: p. 2
  • Plain fare (Letter); PD 8ff: analysis of pleasure
  • PD 5: Relation of virtue to pleasure
  • PD 18: close to adaptation.
  • PD 25: something akin to mindfulness.

Article on Epicurus' concept of pleasure Epicurus_on_Pleasure_and_the_Complete_Life

Hellenistic Stoicism: Epictetus

Key Idea: To realize our rational nature (and the joy that only rational being can know), we need to adjust our thinking about our lives to what we know about reality.

  • "Some things are in our control and others are not."
  • background distinction: still materialist, but distinguishes "theos" and "matter" (finer to coarser particles) Not quite an atomist because the "rational" is real (maybe a kind of “wholism” about arrangements of theos like us).
  • "Confine your aversion" and understand the limits of things. (Sounds like an “aversion” retraining program based on knowledge claims.)
  • Infamous #3. Read with #7, #8, and #14, in case we’re being too subtle.
  • Something like mindfulness, #4
  • Limits of pride. Catching the mind exaggerating.:*Desire: #15,
  • Comportment in later points of the enchiridion. (Unabashedly hierarchal -- recall "mix of elements")

October 1

Note on Method

Irivne's work gives a good example of mixing two techniques: critiquing and "saving" a theory. When you "save" a theory from a criticism, you try to figure out, among other things, what the theory is really committed to and which parts of the theory are optional or could be revised.

William Irvine, Chapter 4, "Negative Visualization"

  • Reasons for contemplating bad things.
  • Adaptation: wants to reverse it. "creating a desire in us for the things we already have" 67-68. Two fathers thought experiment.
  • Contemplation of our own death.
  • Sources of evidence: children, people who survive disasters (catastrophe-induced transformation), grace, unluckiness to stimulate sense of being lucky.
  • Objections: p. 81: Doesn't this heighten loss? response:

William Irvine, Chapter 5, "The Trichotomy of Control"

  • Some things up us, somethings aren't.
  • Internal strategy: changing ourselves. Desire not to be frustrated by future desires.
  • Irvine's critique of dichotomy: ambiguity -- total or partial control.
  • Critique of stoic claim that we have complete control of desires, and aversions. Casino example.
  • Claims: We do have complete control over goals, opinion, and character.
  • Should you want to win the tennis match, as a Stoic? internal/externally expressed goals. 96-97.
  • Problem of Stoic cosmopolitanism: Why would a stoic set goals that would threaten his/her tranquility?

Small Group Discussion

Does Irvine's update of stoicism address your concerns about this philosophy? Does it makes sense to try to retrain your responses and adjust your goals in the ways that stoics advise?

October 3

Gilbert, Chapter 1. Journey to Elsewhen

  • the difference, to the problem of happiness, from our ability to imagine a future.
  • digression on social cognition. (not Gilbert)
  • Nexting; partially culturally acquired (pause); frontal lobe; Phinneas Gage; lobotomies; N.N.
  • Prospection and Emotion: ways that we enjoy anticipation of a future, even as substitute, American optimism and distorted sense of the future.
  • Control. study at 21ff.

McMahon, Chapter 3: From Heaven to Earth (Renaissance & Reformation)

  • Contemptus Mundi: 13th-15th century: characteristics.
  • Contrast with Renaissance:
  • Pico: 1463. Oration on Dignity of Man. key ideas: protean character of man. 146: still traditional model (in line with Aquinas' dist.)
  • Renaissance Neo-platonism 151: vertical path to happiness.
  • Bronzino's Allegory of Happiness -- connection to earthly happiness evident.
  • Emerging Images and Ideas: 15th-16th centuries
  • Felicitas
  • Smiles -- also, Mona Lisa, early 1500's
  • Melancholy as disease
  • Reformation
  • Martin Luther and happiness: letter, effect of grace
  • Calvin
  • Locke, late 17th century. tabula rasa, nb. 180. reassertion of happiness as driver of desire. Note enlightenment model of reasonableness of christianity here.

McMahon, Chapter 4: Self-Evident Truths (Enlightenment)

  • Image of search for paradise -- 199. pleasure gardens. Pope (18th cent.). note new questions.
  • Note internal summary at 204: 3 big influences: 1) new attitudes toward pleasure and sin; 2) happiness as sign of grace; 3) God intends our happiness here.
  • Wealth -- direction of causation?
  • Enlightenment, changed "how can I be saved?" into "how can I be happy?"
  • Importance of Lisbon earthquake: 1755. Voltaire, Candide
  • British Happiness: Bentham and the "felicity calculus" --
  • French Hedonism (La Mettrie and de Sade), and Rousseau: characteristics, critique (237-238)
  • Johnson and Rasselas: pursuit of happiness as source of unhappiness.

Small Group Prompt

What is there is cheer about and what is there to be concerned about in the new culture of happiness in the enlightenment?

October 8

Gilbert, Chapter 2: The View from in Here

  • Objectivity Issues: emotional, moral, judgement happiness.
  • How can the twins be happy? What is the role of "objective conditions"?
  • Subjectivity of Yellow, 32. Nozick's experience machine, 35. Happy Frank, p. 37. (Perhaps goal of this analysis is to see that normal understanding of happiness includes life happiness, virtues, and perfective activities.)
  • 40: How similar are two people's experience of happiness? How would you know?
  • problem: we don't compare experiences, we compare memories of experiences.
  • Describer's study, 41. What do we access when we make happiness judgements?
  • How reliable is our judgement from one minute to the next?
  • Interviewer substitution studies Daniel Simon's Lab: [2]. Other perceptual aspects, 43-44.
  • Happiness scales
  • Language squishing and Experience stretching
  • Language squishing hyp: We "squeeze" our happiness scale (language) to fit the range of our objective exp.
  • R&L feel exactly like you do (about a birthday cake, for example) but talk about it differently.
  • consistent with the idea that the same feeling or state could receive a higher assessment by someone with limited experience.
  • Experience stretching hyp: We take the range of our objective experience and stretch it to fit our scale.
  • R&L talk about experiences the same as you do but feel something different.
  • consistent with the idea that we might be "ruined" by 4 star hotels, but that absence of peak experiences is not a problem.
  • Drawing a conclusion: Our relationship to our judgements about happiness is changed by our experience of happiness and vice versa, creating a kind of ambiguity in intersubjective assessments of happiness. (Small group prompt: Finding examples of this claim in our experience, critically evaluating the claim itself.)

Gilbert, Chapter 3: Outside Looking In

  • How well do we know what we're feeling?
  • Determining that something is scary comes before understanding it. (That's scary.)
  • False sensation, as under hypnosis.
  • Capilano Bridge Study -- fear and arousal.
  • Blindsight
  • Alexithymia - mismatch of experience and awareness of experience. You could be happy and not know it. (That's scary, too.) But another being made here is about variation in people's aptitude for emotional self-description. (Possible Small Group prompt.)
  • Addressing Measurement Issues
  • physical correlates, multiple measures, avoid priming,
  • Law of Large Numbers -- resolves some issues of objectivity.
  • "problem of subjective experience" -- relation between knowledge of patterns and individual. point, bottom of p. 69.

October 10

Love and Happiness

In this class, we look at recent theories about the nature of love, and we speculate on the implications of these theories for happiness.

Haidt, Chapter 6: Love and Attachments

  • Attachment Theory
  • Harlow's monkeys -- "cloth mother studies" Images for Harlow's Monkeys [3]. How did Harlow disconfirm early behaviorist and freudian thought on atttachment?
  • Bowlby's children and orphans. hears about Harlow's work. Aberrant psychoanalyst.
  • Keys to attachment: safety and exploration. postulates a "design system" to negotiate this tension.
  • Ainsworth "Strange Situation" 2/3 secure. other 1/3 split
  • Haidt's thesis: questions data, styles more flexible than early research hypothesized.
  • Attachment Theory as Explanation for love
  • Details: Ainsworth "Strange Situation" experiements. Secure and insecure (avoidant/resistant) attachment styles. Genes may not play a large role in attachment style. (maybe epigenetic)
  • Love is for a species with big heads. We re-purpose our early parental attachment for romantic love. Oxytocin.
  • Addresses the question of romantic love as "just" attachment theory plus mating.
  • Proposes distinction between: passionate and companionate love. distinct processes.
  • Aside: Philosophers on love. Buddha (the problem is that love is attachment) and Plato (rejection of the body)
  • Caritas(benevolence/good will) and Agape (selfless spiritual love) as extensions.
  • Major claims about happiness-making effects of relationships. p. 133.

Brooks, Social Animal

  • goal is to heighten awareness of the relationship between the cultural dimension of courtship and the biological.
  • Harold and Erika. two levels (good example of social cognition, by the way). map-meld. "meld" is something like transition to companionate love?

de Botton, "Lovelessness"

  • reminds us of need for "social love"
  • we can think of de Botton's argument as a logical extension of the model of love we have been developing.

October 15

de Botton, "Expectation"

  • Image of Nixon and Khruschev facing off on the value of material wealth.
  • Consider profound changes in standard of living from end of medieval times to present.
  • FDR recommending the Sears catalogue as one book to show Soviet people the advantages of American life.
  • de Botton implies that our "social comparison" abilities might have been jolted by the great increases in wealth from the Industrial Revolution and capitalism. Result might be increased "Status Anxiety". Important points here about social comparison. 26-27.
  • Shift from Medieval Christianity, quote p. 28. Problems of meritocracy for status anxiety. old system justified inequality impersonally.
  • Traces the growth of idea of government being "justified" by its performance in the social contract. Rise of meritocratic thinking.
  • Alexis de Tocqueville and American's "strange melancholy" -- an unexpected consequence of lifting barriers of aristocratic society is that members of society may experience more adverse social comparison and anxiousness about success.
  • James on self-esteem: quotient of Success and Pretentions.
  • Given de Botton's argument, it makes sense that myth of the self-made man would be prominent in Am. Culture.
"The price we have paid for expecting to be so much more than our ancestors is a a perpetual anxiety that we are far from being all we might be."

de Botton, "Meritocracy"

  • Three Old Stories about Failure
  • Poor not responsible for condition and value to society
  • Low status neutral
  • Rich are sinful and robbed the poor
  • Three Anxiety Inducing Stories about Success
  • Rich are useful, not the poor.
  • Status has moral connotation. (contra xianity)
  • Poor are corrupt and poor because of their deficiencies

Gilbert, Chapter 4: In the Blind Spot of the Mind's Eye

  • Comparions of Adolph Fisher & George Eastman. Point: Need to 2nd guess how we impose seemingly objective criteria on others' lives.
  • Brain reweaves experience: study with cars and stop signs/yield signs. Information acquired after the event alters memory of the event.
  • Two highly confirmed results: Memory fills in. We don't typically notice it happening.
  • Model of Mind (84) Prior to 19th century:
"philosophers had thought of the senses as conduits that allowed information about the properties of objects in the world to travel from the object and into the mind. The mind was like a movie screen in which the object was rebroadcast. The operation broke down on occasion, hence people occasionally saw things as they were not. But when the senses were working properly, they showed what was there. This theory of realism was described in 1690 by the philosopher John Locke: brains "believe" they don't "make believe" .
  • Model of Mind brought in with Kant at beginning of 1800's:
Kant's idealism: "Kant's new theory of idealism claimed that our perceptions are not the result of a physiological process by which our eyes somehow transmit an image of the world into our brains but rather, they are the result of a psychological process that combines what our eyes see with what we already think, feel, know, want, and believe, and then uses this combination of sensory information and preexisting knowledge to construct our perception of reality. "
  • Still, we act like realists: truck moving study-- we are first realists, but we learn to adopt an idealist perspective in social communication.
  • We fill in details: imagine a plate of spaghetti. Very important for thinking about how we fill in the future.
  • point for happiness theories: p. 89.

Gilbert, Chapter 5: The Hound of Silence

  • We don't train on what's not there: pigeons, detecting pattern change in trigrams.
  • Why do non-describer sports fans overestimate impact of losing a big game? 102 They don't think about the whole picture -- what's going to happen after the game, etc. Details the describers fill in. (Interesting practical lesson here.) Likewise, with california happiness studies.
  • Time frame matters: example of agreeing to baby sit in a month vs. tomorrow night. (But if our motivation is thrown off that much by a few weeks, what does that say about our predictions about what will motivate us in 20 years!!!)

October 17

Gilbert, Chapter 6, The Future is Now

  • Being wrong about the future: possibility of heavy planes flying. 112
  • 113: Examples of current experience displacing past experience: dating couples, worries about exams, memories of Perot supporters.
  • Examples of how we fail to predict how future selves will feel. 115: Volunteers choosing candy bars or knowing answers.
  • We fail to account for the way future experience will change future preferences.
  • Sneak Prefeel -- evidence suggests brain can have emotional responses to imaginings of the future. We simulate future events, we don't just experience them reflectively. visual experience vs. imagination.
  • How to Select Posters: In poster selection study, the "thinkers" are less satisfied with their choices. 121
  • Limits of Prefeeling: "We can't see or feel two things at once, and the brain has strict priorities about what it will see, hear, and feel and what it will ignore. ... For instance, if we try to imagine a penguin while we are looking at an ostrich, the brain's policy won't allow it."122
  • Read cartoon on bottom of p. 125 "Imagination cannot easily transcend the boundaries of the present, and one reason for this is that it must borrow machinery that is owned by perception. The fact that these two processes must run on the same platform means that we are sometimes confused about which one is running. We assume that what we feel as we imagine the future is what we'll feel when we get there, but in fact, what we feel as we imagine the future is often response to what's happening in the present."

Gilbert, Chapter 7, Time Bombs

  • We spatialize time because it's an abstract thing and thinking of its spatially helps make it concrete. But that makes some things easier to imagine in the future than other things.
  • Hedonic adaptation -- factors affecting the habituation rate -- time/variety (connect with satisficer/maximizer)
  • False prediction of future pleasure -- p. 130 study on snack predictions.
  • Gilberts partial point -- variety has a cost… As you slow down the consumption rate, variety becomes less of a happiness maker because your rank preference becomes more prominent. [But it doesn't follow that it's not in your happiness-interest to pay it sometimes. Sampler plates still make sense because you're going to be consuming them quickly.]
  • Slogan for today's class: "Pleasure isn't linear."
  • Starting Now: mental images are atemporal.....
  • Spagetti satisfaction predictions under condition of multi-tasking, p. 136.

Lots of Other Biases

  • Anchoring Bias (135)-- how many african countries?, Sensitivity to changes, (accounts for preferences for steady income increases, even it net payout is lower).
  • Preference for the marked down vacation, even if more costly than a marked up one.
  • Famous Khaneman and Tversky "mental accounting" study -- (140)
  • We compare the present to the past instead of to the possible. (coffee example)
  • But we also make mistakes when we compare the present to the possible. (tv purchase example, wine example, dictionary comparison, chips/chocolate vs. chips/sardines)
  • Loss aversion (145)

McMahon, Chapter 6

October 29

Csiksentmihalyi, Finding Flow, Chapters 1-3

Structures of Everyday Life

  • Focus on how we spend our time and the state of mind/affect we experience from diff. activities in daily life
  • Experience Sampling Method -- p. 14ff

The Content of Experience

  • Theoretical position, p. 21: Wants to ask less for self-reports of happiness and more about the moods and affect that might be functionally related to happiness.
  • Discussion of emotions, goals, and thoughts in terms of the organization of "psychic entropy", roughly, the cognitive / emotive state of my mind at a particular moment or during an activity.
  • FLOW, p. 29ff.
"It is the full involvement of flow, rather than happiness, that makes for excellence in life. When we are in flow, we are not happy, because to experience happiness we must focus on our inner states, and that would take away attention from the task at hand."
  • Questioning theoretical implications of flow for happiness.

How We Feel When Doing Different Things

  • Table 2: Quality of Experience in Everyday Activities
  • Schizophrenic patient and ESM
  • Implicit hypothesis: People have different strategies and degrees of awareness of how to manage their affect (a form of self-care). Happiness might be improved by developing these capacities for self-care.

Small Group Topics

  • Consider Csiksentmihalyi's research strategy, the relationship between flow and happiness, and the "implicit hyposthesis" above during your group discussion today.

October 31

Fred Bryant, Savoring, Chapter 1, Concepts of Savoring: An Introduction

  • Savoring: capacity to attend to, appreciate and enhance positive experiences. (Note newness of research.)
  • Relating to coping research (note on method).
  • Defining at p. 3.
  • Distinguishing savoring from pleasure -- reflective dimension to savoring. Includes anticipation. "Appreciative awareness." Not so much in sexual orgasm itself, but pre/post.
  • Need to suppress "social and esteem needs" for savoring.
  • Savoring distinguished from other processes. In relation to:
  • Mindfulness -- savoring narrower, 8 & 15.
  • Meditation,
  • Flow

Robert Emmons, Gratitude, Subjective Well-Being, and the Brain

  • importance of exchange of gifts, symbolic and material.
  • Broad range of gratitude: from specific feeling about a particular event or circumstance to a general attitude toward life. Life as a gift.
  • Definitions: "positive recognition of pleasant feeling from received benefit. "undeserved merit" From Fitzgerald (470): appreciation, goodwill, disposition that follows from appreciation and goodwill.
  • Gratitude can be a "virtue" if understood as a cultivated disposition to recognize undeserved merit.
  • Gratitude response is stronger if the beneficiary intends the benefit.
  • Gratitude as Affective Trait
  • grateful people experience more positive emotion. 473 (direction of causation? If you're happy and you don't know it...)
  • other correlates.
  • Gratitude and the Brain
  • Cognitive-affective neuroscience construct (What's happening to your brain when you experience gratitude?)
  • General hypothesis: we have structures for both perceiving gratitude in others and expressing it.
  • Specific hypothesis: Limbic prefontal networks involved: "; (1) the fusiform face-processing areas near the temporal—occipital junctions, (2) the amygdala and Limbic emotional processing systems that support emotional states, and (3) interactions between these two subcortical centers with the prefrontal regions that control executive and evaluative processes." 483. Like other prosocial emotions.
Specific hypothesis tested with studies of gratitude and mood induction in Parkinson's Disease patients.
  • Psychological attitudes at odds with gratitude: "' A number of personal burdens and external obstacles block grateful thoughts. A number of attitudes are incompatible with a grateful outlook on Hfe, including perceptions of victimhood, an in ability to admit one's shortcomings, a sense of entitlement, and an inability to admit that one is not self-sufficient. InIn a culture that celebrates self-aggrandizement and perceptions of deservingness, gratitude can be crowded out.
  • Broad range of gratitude: from specific feeling about a particular event or circumstance to a general attitude toward life. Life as a gift.
  • Definitions: pleasant feeling from received benefit. "undeserved merit" From Fitzgerald (470): appreciation, goodwill, disposition that follows from appreciation and goodwill.
  • Gratitude can be a "virtue" if understood as a cultivated disposition to recognize undeserved merit.
  • Gratitude response is stronger if the beneficiary intends the benefit.
  • Evolutionary Perspective
  • "as a cognitive—emotional supplement serving to sustain reciprocal obligations. -Simmel (471) "Thus, during exchange of benefits, gratitude prompts one person (a beneficiary) to be bound to another (a benefactor) during "exchange of benefits, thereby reminding beneficiaries of their reciprocity obligations."
  • "Trivers viewed gratitude as an evolutionary adaptation that regulates people's responses to altruistic acts. Gratitude for altruistic acts is a reward for adherence to the universal norm of reciprocity and is a mediating mechanism that links the receipt of a favor to the giving of a return favor."
  • Gratitude and SWB
  • Strong claim for long term effects of gratitude as a trait: p. 476 -- participants show SWB boost 6 months later.
  • Psychological attitudes at odds with gratitude: "' A number of personal burdens and external obstacles block grateful thoughts. A number of attitudes are incompatible with a grateful outlook on life, including perceptions of victimhood, an in ability to admit one's shortcomings, a sense of entitlement, and an inability to admit that one is not self-sufficient. In a culture that celebrates self-aggrandizement and perceptions of deservingness, gratitude can be crowded out.