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1. How do the diverse disciplines of economics, pscyhology, and philosophy contribute to the contemporary study of happiness?
Psychology is important to the study of happiness, because it helps us to understand the workings of the brain and how we think. Happiness has an important relationship with what we mentally experience, which is studied in psychology. Economics is important to the study of happiness, because there are indications that material wealth affects happiness in some situations (like people far below poverty levels) while not in others, where it might otherwise be expected (like people who already have life’s necessities). Studies on happiness have been analyzed with economic studies to help suggest connections between economics and happiness. Philosophy is important to the study of happiness, because it is concerned with how we should live, and there are many different ideas on how the way that we live affects our happiness. Different philosophies offer radically different suggestions on what makes a happy person. For example, the sage Buddhist renounces pleasures of the body to achieve enlightenment (which you could argue would be their form of happiness), while the Epicurean seeks pleasure as a form of happiness. Martin Seligman started to study optimal states in positive psychology. This is different from regular psychology because this focuses on happy people, not mentally unfit people. Economics has played a role in the study of happiness because of the model that more money does not equal more happiness. After one has what they need to sustain their life, such as safe, food, shelter, and then past that the money just makes them want more. Money does not equal happiness. Aristotle said, “count no man happy until he is dead.” Therefore, philosophy has stated that one cannot be happy until they have lived a fun life and can look back on it. However, a more modern look would say that constant contemplation is the way to look at happiness in life. Recent research on happiness: economics, psychology ( evolutionary, developmental, cognitive), history of ideas, cultural anthropology. Traditional sources of wisdom: religions, traditional texts, philosophical texts, cultural myths.
2. What is the difference between "state Happiness" and "life Happiness"? In what ways are these concepts in tension when thinking about happiness in general?
State Happiness is the idea that happiness can be experienced in the present moment. This can include states of pleasure, ecstasy, living in the moment, or a present mindedness of being happy. Life Happiness is the idea that true happiness can only be experienced by things that happen over a lifetime. This means that it is not enough to have happy experiences, but rather, you must have a complete life to be happy. These concepts are in tension, because a life without State Happiness would not be happy (it can’t be that you are only happy at the end of your life), but State Happiness alone is not sufficient for real happiness (real happiness can’t come just from happy experiences). State happiness is Hs what state to “peak happiness” and the Hl or Life happiness is not adaptive; it is what you need to see in life to be happy. It is more long term. You need state happiness to be happy, however, a life with only state happiness is not sufficient to being fully happy. State happiness: state of mind you’re in. Making yourself happy every day. Argument: A life without state happiness would not be happy? State happiness is not sufficient for happiness. Life Happiness: What you see/know in/about a life to know it was happy. Judge yourself as happy when looking at entire life. Based on friends, relations, intimacy, God or relationship to totality.
3. Within "state Happiness" how might you distinguish "states of being" from "states of hedonic excitation"? Give examples and identify some of the descriptive vocabulary of each type of state! States of hedonic excitation are experiences of pleasure, such as eating your favorite food, which are part of State Happiness, whereas a state of being can also contribute to happiness while not being in the form of pleasure. For example, a state of being could be the happiness that you have knowing that you helped your younger sibling with some homework that he or she was having trouble with.
States of hedonic excitation are things, or pleasures that do not last. We adapt to them. However, things like friendship, God, intimacy are not adaptive. States of mind give us longevity in our happiness, but states of ecstasy are usually short-lived. States of pleasure: ecstasy States of mind: more sustainable – living in the moment – present mindedness – tranquility- enlightenment – Epicurus - Buddhism
4. What does it mean to say that "pleasure isn't linear"?
Pleasure as it is experienced goes up and down dramatically over time, rather than following a steady line up or down or straight across. If happiness was linear, we’d keep getting more and more happy with the same thing, like an ice cream cone. But instead we peak, and start to level off in our happiness levels after the best time leaves. Pleasure follows a trajectory – ex. eating ice cream. Really good at first – having more and more may give less and less pleasure. There may be a point at which more and more actually makes pleasure go down.
5. How might you begin to identify the relative subjective and objective aspects of happiness?
The subjective aspects of happiness are identified by how you personally consider your own happiness. It follows the idea that no one can tell you what will make you happy. The objective aspects of happiness can be identified by determining where you make mistakes about your happiness. Objectivity in happiness: Objective is nature. Laws of nature, such as gravity is objective. However, what type of ice cream that is the best is subjective. A subjective statement is “no one can tell you what’ll make you happy.” And an objective statement is “you can be wrong about your happiness.”
No one can tell you what will make you happy You can be wrong about your happiness Not objective (science of nature), nor is it subjective (fav. Flavor of ice cream) Alfino’s e-mail: I was really struck (again) by how much our images of happiness seems to involve specific situations of tranquility, satisfaction, and enjoyment. Here are some ancient greek terms that get at similar states: hesychia - quietness athembia - absence of pain in the soul (psyche) eustatheia - stability euthymia - tranquility experienced as pleasurable kara - joy eudaimonia - being guided by or possessing a happy spirit (daemon)
As we start to explore the views of happiness of some large ancient cultures, you'll see some of these concepts (which we also find in sanskrit) informing philosophical accounts of wisdom and happiness. As you dig into your reading for next week, if you find terms or concepts that you don't completely understand, consult some quick reference sources such as www.wikipedia.com or, in philosophy, the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (which is online through Foley). There are great, concise articles on both sources.
Jan 22: Introduction to the concept of happiness in several philosophical/religious/cultural traditions: Hinduism, Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. AND Correlates of Happiness
1. Briefly compare Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism regarding their views of happiness (add detail from general reference reading such as the wikipedia or an encyclopedia if necessary, but work primarily from the handout).
Hinduism: Happiness consists in union with Braham (There are three main Gods in the Hindu religion: Braham [the creator], Vishnu [the perservor or the protector] and Shiva [the destroyer]).
To acheive happiness one should shower regard for diverse deities and understand one's dharma and chose a path (yoga) for achieving release (moksha) (Dharma is the path of righteousness and living one's life according to the codes of conduct as described by the Vedas and Upanishads. Dharma means "that which holds" the people of this world and the whole creation. Dharma is the natural universal laws whose observance enables humans to be contented and happy, and to save himself from degradation and suffering. Dharma is the moral law combined with spiritual discipline that guides one's life. See http://hinduism.about.com/od/basics/a/dharma.htm)
The explanation of happiness is given against an analysis of samsara. The complexity of attachment is mirrored in the many Dharmas. (Samsara refers to the process of passing from one body to another throughout all species of life.)
If this makes sense to anybody please explain why. If not, then you might understand why I am not Hindu.
Jainism: Jainism is an ancient religion, emphasizing non-violence, meditation, and personal enlightenment. Happiness is the realization of the soul's true nature and attaining moksha, or liberation. To acheive happiness one should do meditation and ascetic practice aimed at identification with Atma, unchanging reality. (asceticist: a person who leads an austerely simple life, esp. one who abstains from the normal pleasures of life or denies himself or herself material satisfaction.)
Buddhism: Happiness is freedom from teh suffering that characterizes existence, it is attainment of Nirvana. (After attainment of Bodhi, it is believed one is freed from the compulsive cycle of saṃsāra: birth, suffering, death and rebirth, and attains the "highest happiness" (Nirvana, as described in the Dhammapada. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism) (Bodhi is a term applied to the experiencing of an awakening or enlightemnent; an awareness of Reality) To acheive happiness, follow the 4 noble truths and noble 8 fold path. Practice right thinking, speech, conduct, effort, mindfulness, and concentration. Why? Analysis of attachment and desire explains the origin of suffering and shows both the conditioned reality of normal existence. The practices of Buddhism are intended to help us understand the reality and release ourselves from suffering.
It is my impression that the understanding of suffering and attachment is typically misunderstood, even by many "buddhists". To release attachments does not mean to be detatched. Following a law of detachment is simply an attachment itself! This is the sort of attachment that leads to suffering! All things pass, no thing lasts, that is to say, nothing lasts, and nothingness is the only constant. Thus, to truly release attachments is to let be what is. What is, is. If one has an attachment to something that is not, then they will suffer in trying to make it so. This is illustrated well in a story of a zen master who, after the death of his wife, was found on the top of a mountain whailing and crying in mysery. His students approached him and said, "master, why are you crying? Do you not tell us to give up attachments?" He replied, "I am crying because I am devistated. You are confused, you think that to release from attachments means to never be sad, but that is simply your own attachment to peacefulness. For me, devastation is, and I am letting it be. I am devastated and I will be devastated." Or something like that. A typical example from today would be the person who is angry, but has an attachment to "not being angry; anger is wrong or bad". Well, guess what. They are really going to suffer from trying to not be angry because they are attached to the idea of anger being bad. (They are also going to be angry because they are angry, it's really unfortunate!) If they would let be what is, they woudl not suffer from their anger and they would know that it will pass if they let it be.
2. How does the problem of suffering come into play in these traditions? For the reading: Stuart McCready, ed. "The Discovery of Happiness," Chapter 2, "Nirvana and the Social Order" p. 24-36. The Buddhists began their discussion of the human condition, not with how a man should attain happiness, but rather, how he should avoid unhappiness of suffering. Attaining happiness, in other words, was the end result of escaping the more fundamental and general condition of suffering. The highest goal of ethical and spiritual striving was therefore to pass beyond the vicissitudes of suffering by identifying its causes and means of eradication. It should be remembered that Buddhism originated in India (Buddha: 563-483 BCE) and it wasn't until centuries later that it moved to China as Zen Buddhism (about 100 CE)
For the reading: Stuart McCready, ed. "The Discovery of Happiness," Chapter 3, "Dao, Confusinism, and Buddhism" p. 36-56. Fu (happiness or good fortune) and Huo (misfortune or calamity) are opposites in an interactive or transformational circle. The reversal from one extreme to the other is the moment of Dao. One has no control over the transformation between opposites unless one succeeds in attaining the Dao. Only then are opposites such as fortune and misfortune reduced to their original state of unity. Happiness comes from the satisfaction of desires while unhappiness comes from its frustration. Therefore, "one who is content (with what one has) is always happy".
For the reading: Chuang Tzu, Chapter 18, "Perfect Happiness" Man is born to sorrow, and what misery is theirs whose old age with dulled faculties only means prolonged sorrow! I make true pleasure to consists in inaction, which the world regards as great pain. Thus it has been said, "perfect happiness is the absence of happiness; perfect renown is the absence of renown."
3. What is the right relationship between thinking about suffering and happiness? How should we look at ancient cultures, east and west, which focus on alleviation of suffering as the focus of the pusuit of happiness. Have we eliminated suffering? What kinds? Do we experience the absence of suffering from the conditions of life in ancient times? Have we replaced (in the wealthy world) physical suffering with other kinds of suffering (anxiety about one's talents, social esteem, suffering from adverse comparison with others)?
This is not for me to answer, for it asks for opinion and I won't have other people copying down my opinion on their tests.
4. What does a daoist do to become happy, according to Chuang Tzu?
This has already been answered in question 2. In addition, Chuang Tzu emphasized the idea of a Natural Way or Natural Law, which cannot be changed and to fight it is hopeless.
5. How does the parable of Chuang Tzu's widowhood illustrate a daoist understanding of the right attitude toward reality? Do you agree?
"to live with your wife... and to see your eldest son grow up to be a man, then not to shed a tear over her corpse, this would be bad enough. But to drum on a bowl, and sing; surely this is going to far." -Hui Tzu (some guy talking to Chang Tzu) "Not at all," replied Chuang Tzu. "When she died, I could not help being affected by her death. Soon, however, I remembered that she had already existed in a previous state before birth, without form, or even substance; that while in that unconditioned condition, substance was added to spirit... and now, by virtue of a further change, she is dead, passing from one phase to another [just like the seasons]. For me to go about weaping and wailing would be to proclaim myself ignorant of natural laws." Do you agree? This should be your own opinion. Those who are heavenly minded are no earthly good!
6. How does the parable of the kun fish (peng bird) illustrate a daoist perspective that could promote happiness? Can this perspective be criticized for advocating complacency and passivity? Consider a variety of responses to this potential criticism.
I really appreciate this story, and I'll type it all up so you lazy asses don't have to look at your reading, which you probably didn't read anyways.
In the Northern Ocean there is a fish called kun, which is many thousand miles in size. This fish metamorphoses into a bird called peng, whose back is many thousand miles in breadth. When the bird rouses itself and flies, its wings obscure the sky like clouds... When it is moving to the Southern Ocean, it flaps along the water for 3,000 miles... When it ascends to the height of 90,000 miles, the wind is all beneath it. Then, with the blue sky above, and no obstacle on the way, it mounts upon the wind and starts for the south... A cicada and a young dove laugh at the peng, saying: "when we make an effort, we fly up to the trees. Sometimes, not able to reach there, we fall to the ground midway. What is the use of going up 90,000 miles in order to fly toward the south?"... A quail also laughs at it, saying: "Where is that bird going? I spring up with a bound, and when I have reached no more than a few yards I come down again. I just fly about among the brushwood and the bushes. It is also perfect flying"... This is the difference between the great and the small.
What the story suggests is ambiguous (many people cannot tolerate ambiguity and therefore cannot tolerate the messages of this story). On the one hand, we see the enormous difference between the great and the small in their features and pursuits. The peng has large wings and flies high and far. The cicada and quail have tiny wings, and low and short flight. Accordingly, the great and small experience and achieve different things. This is also true of what they each need and enjoy. If they all go against nature by imitating each other in their way of life, distress and frustration will certainly arise. In consequence, satisfaction is relative.
On the other hand, we find that the great and small are different by nature. They move and live in distinct ways because they simply follow their own nature and act in accord with their inborn capacity. They both indulge in what they are doing and enjoy themselves to their full extent. That is the story, it is your job to be able to summarize it.
7. Traditions such as Buddhism analyze the problem of happiness in terms of the need to overcome an unhealthy or unproductive attachment to desire, the ego, or the self. Buddhism gives an important psychological analysis of the need for detachment and renunciation as part of a program of enlightenment which includes the realization of a kind of happiness. One version of this program of enlightenment demands a kind of asceticism. Most people, however, are not willing to embrace asceticism. Could we identify some insights from ascetic practice even if we do not embrace the lifestyle of an ascetic?
Again, the definition: Asceticist: a person who leads an austerely simple life, esp. one who abstains from the normal pleasures of life or denies himself or herself material satisfaction. The insights are up to you. If I told you, they wouldn't be insights. Hint: what is referred to by desire, ego, or self, is somewhat up to interpretation. Some interpretations work better than others.
8. Drawing on the Argyle reading, what evidence do we have for theorizing about the causal factors producing happiness. When you review the discussion of correlates such as age, education, leisure and health, income, social relationships, marriage, and religion, what causal structures seem likely to you? What kind of role do you suspect culture to play in these relationships?
January 29 Topic & Readings: Prospection and Subjectivity in Cognitive Psychology and Measurement of Happiness.
1. Gilbert, Daniel. Stumbling on Happiness. New York: Alfred Knopf, 2006, Chapter 1: Journey to Elsewhen, pp. 2-29
2. Gilbert, Chapter 2: The View from in Here, pp. 29-55
3. Gilbert, Chapter 3: Outside Looking In, pp. 55-75
1. Do we accurately understand the relationship between our own future predictions of happiness and the actual determinants of happiness?
No. -Researchers have discovered that when people find it easy to imagine an event, they overestimate the likelihood that it will actually occur. Because most of us get so much more practice imagining good than bad events, we tend to overestimate the likelihood that good events will actually happen to us, which leads us to be unrealistically optimistic about our futures (p. 19). Why do we go to great lengths to construct negative possibilities? -Anticipating unpleasant events can minimize their impact. -fear, worry, and anxiety have useful roles to play in our lives (they have functions) (p. 20-21). During his "steering the boat metaphor (about pg. 24-25) he says: We want - and we should want - to control the direction of our boats because some futures are better than others, and even from this distance we should be able to tell which are which. BUT THIS IS THE WRONG ANSWER TO THE QUESTION. We insist on steering our boats because we think we have a pretty good idea of where we should go, but the truth is that much of our steering is in vain 0 not because the boat won't respond, and not because we can't find our destination, but BECAUSE THE FUTURE IS FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT THAN IT APPEARS THROUGH THE 'PROSPECTOSCOPE'. It is mostly an experience of illusory foresight (akin to illusory eyesight and hindsight).
2. How objective is happiness? How do we explore objectivity of happiness through thought experiments such as the twins?
The twins - "how would you feel"? There seem to be two possibilities for the discrepancy:
1) Someone is making a dreadful mistake when they talk about happiness.
2) um, it seems as though he only mentions the first possibility...
Most disagreements about happiness are semantic (problems of reference) rather than problems of 'philosophy' (problems of meaning, conceptuality, or of 'true nature'). Happiness is used to indicate at least 3 things:
1) Emotional Happiness
Feeling happy (I my opinion, this should be called joy and not con-fused with happiness). It refers to a feeling, an experience, a subjective state and has no objective referent in the physical world (besides brain states, I say!). Thus, there is something that it is like to be when one is emotionally happy or joyous - it has a phenomenological quality. Aha - in each of the cases of emotional happiness described, the encounter generates a roughly similar pattern of neural activity, and thus it makes sense that there is something common to our experiences of each - some conceptual coherence that has led humans to group this hodgepodge of occurrences together in the same linguistic category. Much of it has to do with the "positivity" of the experience and of the words used to describe the experience.
2) Moral Happiness
Feeling happy because: Happiness does not indicate a good feeling but rather that it indicates a very special good feeling that can only be produced by very special means - for example, by living one's life in a propper, moral, meanigful, deep, rich, Socratic, and non-piglike way. Gilbert thinks this is what the Greeks meant by Eudaimonia (means "good spirit" but should probably be translated as "human flourishing" or "life well lived"). Most philosophers thought this kind of happiness could be achieved through virtue, but definitions of virtue are still up in the air.
3) Judgmental Happiness
When a person is expressing a point of view rather than making a claim about their experience. This is true when the word happy is followed by the words that or about. Here, we should take their use of happy to indicate their stance rather than their feelings.
3. What is "skeptical perspectivism" (the view of Gilbert's we christened at the end of Chapter 2)? Do you agree that he holds this position? What are some consequences for a theory of happiness holding this view? (the problem of counterfactual judgement, for instance, in our discussion of Gilbert's enjoyment of "cigars")
Skeptical perspectivism is the position that a) we can't say that counterfactual situations give us reliable data on happiness, b) but we can't discount them either. Language-squishing hypothesis: we all have the same subjective experience but talk about it differently (somebody says they like cake more than I do not because it is subjectively better but they squish language and talk as if it was). Experience-stretching hypothesis: when another experiences something different but talks about it in the same way (we say we both like cake the same amount but the other person's subjective experience is of a much better cake than I experience). What is the consequence? "We can't say. What we can say is that all claims of happiness are claims from someone's point of view - from the perspective of a single human being whose unique collection of past experiences serves as a context, a lens, a background for her evaluation of her current experience.
4. What is Gilbert's "language squishing" and "experience stretching" hypotheses? How does this help us think about the subjectivity of report of happiness?
Oh, I just did this in the last one...
5. How does Gilbert suggest, in Chapter 3, that we may not be completely aware of our experience? That you could be happy and not know it?
We can feel aroused without knowing why we are aroused. Gilbert uses this fact to show how people can therefore misattribute and misconstrue their emotional experiences, letting their affect give them faulty information. This is especially troublesome when the affective information goes misattributed AND unchecked.
6. What is the "bridge study"? Summarize and evaluate.
P. 63 to 64.
7. How does the "law of large numbers" help us with the problem of the measurement and objectivity of happiness, by the end of Chapter 3 of Gilbert? Which kinds of bias could you imagine it correcting for? Do the patterns revealed in large numbers applying normatively to individuals?
Imperfections in measurement are always a problem, and they are an even bigger problem when we don't recognize them. This can be combated with the phenomenon of the Law of Large Numbers (note: Gilbert's point about 2 neurons not being conscious but that consciousness emerges from the sheer number of interconnections is a philosophical position called "emergentism". In light of evolutionary theory, this position is fairly sensible, but it is not the only sensible position nor is it established fact, per se.) Basically, you can get a statistical anomaly in a small sample, but if you sample enough people eventually one cannot help but find some common trends. This is a merit of meta-analyses.
Topic & Reading Happiness in Hellenistic Culture: Stoics, Cynics, and Epicureans.
Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus
Diogenes Laertius, Diogenes (of Sinope) the Cynic, also consult Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Epictetus Encheiridion (Handbook) (possibly sections from Arian's Discourse)
Darrin McMahon, excerpt "Surgery for the Soul," from Happiness: A History, New York, Atlantic Montly Press, 2006, pp. 50-59.
SQs Stoic and Epicurean Models of Happiness
1. Compare and contrast Epicureanism and Stoicism as philosophies and in terms of their general theories of happiness.
Both have a strategy towards happiness that acheives tranquility through close connection to reality. Epicureanism: virtue leads to happiness, which is pelasure. There are two types (?) of pleasure: Kinetic (bodily pleasure: the pledasure of doing; mental pleasure: pleasure of intellectual pursuit, of insight) and Katostematic (higher sort of state pleausre). Stoicism: Virtue equals happiness. There will be intrinsic pleasure in pursuing virtue, in human perfection. You will be happier if you desire less, for you will satisfy the same amount of desires and suffer fewer frustrations.
Epicureanism- Epicurean: 341-270 B.C. Observed nature and objects by way of the atoms that make them up. This is a low epistemological view of nature and the physical world. Believed that there was a ghostie god, a god that is within our consciousness. This grew from the belief that all people felt an unwarranted fear of god. Virtue →(leads to) Happiness. Happiness = Pleasure. Pleasure is the Greatest Good (G.G.) Two pleasures- *Kinetic- pleasure of motion *Katastematic- pleasure of a state 1. bodily- maintaining desire, moderating desire 2. mental- peace of mind Katastematic is higher because it is not maximizing material pleasure but maximizing the joy of the experience within the moment.
Stoicism- Zeno: 333-264 All reality is corporeal. Intelligence is irreducible (can’t talk about reality without acknowledging rationality) Follows a high level of epistemology given the strong sense of cosmic purposive-ness (needing to find one’s own individual purpose in life- ex. Father, Partner, Pianist, Lawyer, Teacher, etc.) Followed pantheism- believes God is fussed throughout everything. God is just another way of explaining personal purposive-ness. Virtue = Happiness. Happiness is the highest good. Denies pleasure as greatest good. “Living in agreement”→ as in virtue is the excellence of who you are. Meaning- choosing wisely the mean between two extremes and arriving there through habitation. (This is the Golden Mean). In regards to the cosmos- some things are up to us and some things are not. We have the ability to move freely within our own limitations but we cannot alter fate. Main Point- Strong UNDERSTANDING of reality (nature) Both- Followed a strategy toward happiness that if one really understands how reality works then you will be able to move oneself to happiness. Mindfulness- knowing pleasure well to have a strong idea of their impact and place. Ratio- key to happiness is adjusting oneself to expectation.
2. What does Stoic and Epicurean "training" involve?
It involves whips, chains, cattle prods, and hot irons. And some red hot Stoic S&M.
OK here's the real answer...
Stoic- Training is essential to Stoicism because it takes habituation and consistency to cultivate one’s virtue. This virtue is dependent on the finding of the golden mean between two extremes, which is individual to each person. Stoicism requires an individual to control natural emotions whether they be joyous and exalting or mourning and despair. The stoic is aware of nature and its uncontestable truths (i.e. death).
Epicurean- The Epicurean must train for the quest of moderation. Intelligence comes into play because it is with intelligence that one is able to understand the world and the greater spectrum outside of the initial happiness and joy felt with the single instant or the gaining of a material good. Training in Epicureanist terms requires one to maximize the experience of the moment rather than the material item. Ex. If one enjoys wine, sitting back and enjoying the full experience of the reality and environment that we are in and being independent from wine. Not needing to survive but we are broadened in our perspective by having tasted wine.
3. Can we alter our "natural" emotional responses to bring them in line with correct understanding of nature? ( Can we "live in agreement"?)
Some things are up to us, some things are not, and one must be ready to adjust themselves to reality.
Personal opinion for this question. Ex. Am I able to minimize, diminish, or completely remove the feelings of grief with the death of a loved one? By understanding nature (which includes fate in the Stoic perspective) am I able to justify (?) my feelings and logically alter their effect on my being? One could go in many different angles from this question. Are we able to logical repress our feelings after having felt them once? Do we need to know death and have felt it’s effect so that later we can suppress it??? I would argue no. To fully understand death, yes it is necessary that we feel its effect but every subsequent time there is another natural cycle of emotions. Living in Agreement- having habituated our emotions and experience so that we stay true to the golden mean that we have assigned to oneself, is it possible to alter our natural emotional response?
4. Assuming we "habituate" our emotions in this way, should we? Consider several points of view. Would it improve happiness?
Of course, this is what Aristotle so brilliantly argued over 2300 years ago. Get with it.
Read his Nichomachean ethics. It's like a bible, only better.
5. Is it possible to avoid suffering from negative emotions and increase positive emotions, such as joy?
No. No, no, no. This is not how it works. One can alter their their perspectve, but one cannot even KNOW joy without knowing suffering, just as one cannot know love without knowing apathy. All things pass. Furthermore, the human organism is constantly moving towards homeostasis, neutrality. If one is joyous they will move back to neutrality, and neutrality implies an above contingent on the existence of the below (thesis, antithesis, synthesis).
1. What are the two loves that de Botton thinks we strive for?
First of all, de Botton's account of Love is the most philosophically pathetic piece of literature I have ever read. Many people were very disappointed with our class on love so I will give some suggestions for better readings.
Check this out for something legitimate: http://www.iep.utm.edu/l/love.htm
If y'all want to read some good authors...
Anthony De Mello (both Awareness and The Way to Love)
Fromm (The Art of Loving)
Peter McWilliams (Love 101) - very very good
Leo Buscaglia - read anything, he is fantastic (personal favorites are "Living, Loving, & Learning" and "Love")
The Meanings of Love: An Introduction to Philosophy of Love by Robert E. Wagoner
Creating Love: The Next Great Stage of Growth by John Bradshaw
The Psychology of Love by Sigmund Freud
A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon (This one is EXCELLENT!)
For a more historical account:
The Natural History of Love, by Morton Hunt
The History of Love: A Novel by Nicole Krauss
Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray by Helen Fisher
The Anatomy of Loving: The Story of Man's Quest to Know What Love Is, By Martin S. Bergmann
his "two loves"
a) our quest for sexual love. Socially accepted and celebrated.
b) our quest for love from the world. We are ashamed of this, we don't want to admit it.
2. What is Montaigne's goal in discussing the body, according to de Botton? Are we "reconciled to the body" today? Should that be a goal for happiness? How would you know that you had achieved it?
We need to be OK with our bodies in order to enjoy them.
Montaigne sees that there are too many culturally induced worries about our bodies. Humans have an inability to talk openly about our bodies. de Botton sees that similar culturally induced inadequacies have a negative effect one’s quest for love. Both have an effect on one’s happiness.
3. How do Schopenhauer and Goethe provide us with images of love from the romantic period of Western European culture? What are some of the challenges of this view? What are some of the attractions? Alternatives?
Schopenhauer is a reductive naturalist. Arguing that nature is driving our passions. Culture is fluff. Love story- Man and women hit things off. Everything is good. Have dinner, realize that everything is falling apart. They have nothing in common, they are separate and completely different individuals. He thinks it an still work, she blows him off. We idealize the person we see as a beloved.
4. Distinguish reductive and non-reductive naturalism.
Schopenhauer is a reductionist. Biochemical level. Nature drives our passions.
Reductive- reducing love to the simplest bio-chemical level. States that love is something that happens naturally in a species. It is a physicalistic account. Love is nature’s own working. (Any partner is right for a man or woman.) Non-reductive- our ideas of love are crucial to understanding the nature of love. Terms like love do not get reduced to physical processes.
5.What is attachment theory and what implications, if any does it have for a theory of love and intimacy?
Attachment theory: This originated not in the study of emotions but has always been focused on the behavior of interpersonal relationships. It originates with the mother-infant bond ("primary caregiver" to infant bond, in truth). Over time the infant develops and INTERNALIZES a working model of interpersonal relatedness. Bowlby argued that this model persists throughout our lives and that we never outgrow our need for attachment and connectedness TO HUMANS.
The implications are that it can help us understand how people LEARN how interpersonal relationships work, how intimacy works, and it is learned on an unconscious level. This is not debatable: we begin developing this working model before we have a sense of self, before we have autobiographical memory, before we have language, before self-consciousness, etc. We learn it first in our IMPLICIT MEMORY.
For more on implicit memory see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implicit_memory
You should all know the different attachment styles (Seligman did not talk about the fourth category: Disorganization (for infants) and Unresolved (for adults), but these refer to the same underlying style).
See p. 190 for descriptions of different perspectives on intimacy relative to the three attachment styles of a) avoidant b) secure and c) resistant/anxious-ambivalent. He talks about these for about the next 5 pages.
Some interesting notes on the use of sex and intimacy relative to attachment style: Secure individuals tend to be the most comfortable in intimacy. Avoidants often prefer casual sex but on average they do not have more sex than any other style. Anxious-ambivalent individuals often use sex to gain "closeness" and to keep others close (this is called manipulation, by the way, and it is not love. Love does not manipulate).
We should all recognize that intimacy is distinct from intimately knowing the insides of a vagina or the gentle folds of a scrotum. In other words, we should all recognize that one can have sex without intimacy, and intimacy without sex. Do you not think that one can intimately know a lifelong friend? Do you not think that asexual people can be intimate? Do you not think that the elderly can be intimate? Do you not think that the impotent can be intimate? Can they, if they don't have sex? I say of course.
***One of the best definitions of love I have ever went something as follows, and it came from the "General Theory of Love" book mentioned above: "Loving derives from intimacy, the prolonged and detailed surveillance of a foreign soul" (p. 207). That is one of my favorite definitions, although I do not like to try to define love rigidly, for this limits love, and love has no limits.
6. How unique of a choice is the choice of an intimacy partner? To what extent does it depend upon the kind of commitment we are capable of making and sustaining over time as opposed to relatively unique or rare attributes?
First of all, I do not like the phrase "intimacy partner", it sounds like a utility...
My study group members made a good point here: no author we talked about really covered this (or covered it well... de Botton is worthless). Additionally, Alfino did not come to any succinct statement on the matter either.
Intimacy takes time and it does not happen on accident. There may be some things that are out of our control, such as personality compatibility or what not, but intimacy and love do not come without work, without attention and effort. If you would like to read a good author on this, try Fromm's The art of Loving; The art of Listening; The art of Being; and pretty much anything else of Fromm's is gold. Leo Buscaglia's Love; and Living, Loving, and Learning deals with this issue very well also.
Here is Alfino's email for reference to this class:
Feb 12th - Love and Happiness The main goal of our class last night was to discuss some views of love in light of a critical distinction between culture and the basic realities we recognize in love. On that basis, you can assess the importance of love, intimate relationship, familial relations, and friendship, to your theory of happiness. Last night we focused on intimate sexual love (in honor of Valentine's Day), but it's important to see the broad picture. Initially, we made a distinction between reductive views (which some kinds of evolutionary theories and, oddly, Schopenhauer's view are instances of) and non-reductive views, in which we argue that mental terms like "love," "trust," "passion", while perhaps ultimately dependent on physical processes, are nonetheless necessary for talking about and having a theory about love. In other words, love doesn't reduce to chemical processes between organisms, even if that is the physical reality. We talked about love and status, following the de Botton reading. We also reviewed Montaigne's advice on "reconciling ourselves with our bodies." In that discussion, there was a significant student voice suggesting that we haven't resolved these issues 450 years later. I raised the skeptical possibility that "more talk" wont' help, but in the end Montaigne's counsel looks contemporary. The question: What percentage of people you are attracted to could you imagine having a successful, intimate, long term relationship with? generated some lively discussion. The goal in asking the question is to shine a critical light on the basis for believing that there is a relatively small or large percentage of the "potential candidates" for the prize of your love. There might be a correlation between romanticism and a low percentage answer, though lots of other factors could account for the answer. Similarly, a high percentage answer might mean that you are more disposed to believe that love has to do with how two broadly compatible people actually treat each other. You could still believe this and be a romantic. Any view you come to on this should square with the fact of arranged marriage in cultures in which that is experienced as voluntary. After the break we got into what come to be known as the "viral theory of love." As I discussed last night, this theory emerged from the course deliberations over the past few years on following: 1. What the relationship researchers are telling us these days - attachment theory, Gottman's work 2. Evolutionary naturalism (which Schopenhauer also wrestled with more abstractly), and 3. The puzzles of cultural models of love and happiness in views of romanticism, arranged marriages, etc. 4. The happiness research, which tells us that love and intimacy across a wide range of relationships (from sexual partners to friends) is strongly correlated with happiness. The theory itself suggests that there must be "susceptibility" to commitment to an intimate relationship and that a good metaphor for that (to keep our naturalistic intuitions in the picture) is susceptibility to a virus. The second condition of love is commitment to will the good (and to want to please) the beloved. Things get murky here. We stumbled a bit on the term "work". Is love work? I think we agreed that relationships require effort, but there is something remarkable about the dynamic of this effort. It is often "effortless effort" and returned many fold. I think we were realistic the difficulty of sustaining this kind of relationship, and I hope we weren't presumptuous about assuming that a single long term relationship is an objective ideal, though some research suggests that, all thing equal, longer term memories enhance old age (until you lose your memory). The short love narrative in de Botton returns us to our larger theme: the critical questioning cultural ideals. The guy in the narrative has to negotiate his idea of himself, love, and the other in the face of the reality that unfolds as the couple get to know each other. It's not that rock climbing women can't love acrophobic men, it's just that you have to figure out (probably intuitively) what's going to be an obstacle and what isn't. To some extent the viral theory of love is a counterweight to the inevitable cultural construction of love. Focusing on the pragmatic question of one's capacity to love and be loved, and considering psychological theories about attachment, I think we can get some critical distance on the cultural messages we get about love.
Gappy Consciousness in the Past, Present, and Future. AND "Flow"
Gilbert Chs. 3-6 and Csik. Chs 1-3
HERE ARE SOME GENERAL NOTES ON GILBERT AND Czechoslovakia
STUMBLING ON HAPPINESS - Gilbert Biases we have in our psychology Colonoscopy studies Skeptical perspectivism you can't tell if things in your life would or wouldn't have made you happier. You can hypothesize about what will make you happy, but you don't know. We fill in the story retrospectively. You don't know how many possible lives you could be happy in. You tell the story of your happiness from the position you occupy.
Ch. 4 "Filling in" applies not only to present, but also to predictions about the future. The act of remembering involves 'filling in' and 'reweaving' Kant - a constructivist - his theory of idealism. There's a limited matrix of categories for us to understand the world. We understand it by constructing within our bounds and categories of understanding. We partly construct the world - subjectivity. p. 94 Ways we have to know: Perceptual Cognitive Study - cubbies We adopt points of view readily We're good at adapting to/grasping different points of view. Study - spaghetti p. 99 Everyone has their own concrete imagined idea of spaghetti. We don't picture what we don't like on it. We're very good at putting ourselves into future mode of imagination Not possible without a relatively concrete picture Materials come from the present. We focus on coincidences not absence Overvalue factors that are present, Undervalue factors that are not. Study - Football game Describers: "typical day" AND how happy the game outcome would make them Non-describers: how happy the game outcome would make them The non-describers had a less accurate prediction Describers had less variance on their prediction of happiness or unhappiness about the game outcome. Why? b/c the describers were forced to think about the other things they would be doing. They were more immediately aware of the typical things that happen in a day. Buffer. Suggests that if we could be more aware of our present, we might be a better predictor. Spending rises to your salary etc. Predictive ability provides a buffer Takes off the extreme negatives and positives. Is being a describer conducive to more happiness? If you were offered a pill to help you predict your happiness, would you take it? Pros and cons It might turn you into a slacker Criticism of present-mindedness It could help you to be happier longer? Sooner? Is your happiness connected to predicting accurately some future state? Should we try to get better at it? Only if the above is true. Stoic hypothesis - being adaptable to accepting the way things turn out. Cognitive psychology Importance of predictive ability varies by time scale You might not want to connect the larger choices to happiness, but it might make sense to employ predictive ability to smaller scale things. We ought to be aware of the limits of our ability to predict our future happiness We're not good at predicting We don't know really what WILL make us happy. Skepticism: We should be more broad-minded and realize that happiness may be less relevant to our predictions. Pro: It can be enhanced by predicting because tomorrow is likely a version of today. Incramental difference may be small. If you aren't good at predicting, will you regret one decision. Study: candy bar and quiz Would you forfeit a Snickers for answers to a quiz? The future you took the quiz and might have different interests and desires. Study: sneak prefeel Does too much info paralyze choice? Naturalism Gilbert: your brain was not designed to make you happy, only to pass on genes to next generation. Brain was not principally designed to make you happy.
You can get better at predicting by prefeeling, but not way into the future. We do have some ability
Inner strategies for happiness: Skepticism - focus on strategies … listen Stoicism
Outer strategies I should predict … listen
We can look at the structures of our everyday experience …. Listen What kinds of psych states are occuring in our day? Assume the life you know is the life you're trying to achieve happiness in. Treat the next 60-70 years as your domain to work with. Psychic entropy Increase in disorder Produced by negative emotion Fear Sadness Positive emotions decrease psychic entropy. Intrinsic motivation Extrinsic motivation A pursuit that motivates you creates order in your life. The opposite view looks very romantic This person wants passion and rage Many creative people are constantly upset and enraged and emotional. These people are often very productive. Listen Look up the song: "High cotton" This is not the abolition of goals, but
Inner tranquility vs. the happiness of striving, which implies suffering Artistic suffering. Is life happiness in a state of artistic chaos?
Flow Examine the structures of daily life Find that there is a specific kind of experience called "flow" Related to well-being Moments in which what you feel, wish, and think are in harmony You're challenged to an extent that it's not above your abilities, but par or better. Time consciousness - lose track of time. Flow activities - make it more likely for the experience to occur. He says happiness is not necessarily flow. Listen. When we're in flow, we're not happy, b/c to experience happiness, we have to focus on internal emotion.
When you're completely absorbed in an experience, you're not necessarily experiencing the happiness of it. An absorbing state with a dimension of challenge. The intersection of high skills and high challenges. Flow may not necessarily make you really happy if it incorporates high challenge and high skill. Epicurian - katastematic pleasure happens after an experience of flow. Having worked hard on something difficult. Enjoyment leads to flow, flow leads to pleasure. Concentration, obstacle of fear Flow brings meaning Relation to ambitions (social status) Flow doesn't track social status Someone trying to make a million may experience the same amount as the garbage guy Relation to psychic entropy (state of purpose/order) Sports, social experience, reduces the entropy Relationships can be demanding Relation to social life Relationships can be demanding Discussion and/or having a good time. Contrast the lazy friend moment with the good friend moment Habituation of reducing obstacles to getting into a nice exchange. Instinct and no overanalysis - thin slicing ESM method Experience sampling method Test subjects get a device Sampling something in their experience Regular intervals asking the person questions The point: searching the structures of our actual experience Emotions paired with certain time of day Ex. lull b/w 2 and 3 in the afternoon. Gives clues of how to optimize different experiences.
1. What evidence does Gilbert sight to suggest that we reweave rather than retrieve experience and memory?
Reweaving: information acquired after an event alters memory of the event. The act of remembering involves "filling in" details that weren't actually stored; and second, we generally cannot tell when we are going this because filling in happens quickly and unconsciously (note: it must happen this way otherwise it would not "work").
His example, stating that this reweaving happens even when you know that you're going to be tricked (such as the disappearing earth) is: if presented with a list of words ABOUT sleep (but it does not include the word "sleep") and then asked "which of the following words was not on the list? Bed, doze, sleep, or gasoline? The trick is that almost all people will not notice that Sleep was not in the list.
Another example: participants shown a series of slides depicting a red car as it cruises towards a YIELD sign, turns right, and then knocks over a pedestrian.
One group of participants were not asked any questions, while the rest were asked "did another car pass the red car while it was stopped at the stop sign? (Notice, and what is interesting is that you may not have noticed this the first time! that the question asked about a STOP sign while the pictures were of a car at a YIELD sign. This is the new information that causes "reweaving").
The participants were then asked to identify the correct picture from the slides they had seen before. One picture was of a red car at a STOP sign and the other picture was of a red car at a YIELD sign. The no-question group identified the correct picture about 90% of the time, while (because the question about a STOP sign caused "reweaving") the question group MIS-identified, chose the picture of the stop sign, about 80% of the time. That is to say, about 80% of the time the new information was "reweaved" into their memory. These findings are insanely significant.
2. How does the U.VA. study suggest that we undervalue features of a situation not present?
This question is worded somewhat poorly; it is not that we "undervalue" the features not present, but the very fact that they ARE NOT PRESENT, therefore we tend not to notice them and therefore cannot incorporate them into whatever we are imagining.
"When we imagine the future, there is a whole lot missing, and the things that are missing matter".
The U.VA study: participants were asked to predict how happy they would feel in a few days depending on the outcome of a game against U.NC. Before they made their predictions, one group was asked to describe the events of a typical day, and the other group was not. A few days later, the results showed that the nondescriber group significantly overestimated the effect of the game on their happiness. Why? Because when nondescribers imagined the future, they tended to leave out details about the things that would happen after the game is over (ex: that they would get drunk after the loss, which would be very pleasant; they would have to study after the win, which would be dreadful).
3. What is the role of "pre-feeling" and what are its limits?
"The point here is that we generally do not sit down with a sheet of paper and start logically listing the pros and cons of the future events we are contemplating, but rather, we contemplate them by simulating those events in our imaginations and then noting our emotional reactions to that simulation. Just as imagination previews objects, so does it prefeel events."
Prefeeling heps us imagine how we will feel in a given situation.
Limits: we can't both experience real things and imagine other things at the same time (with the same sensory type, it seems). "when we ask our brains to look at a real object and an imaginary object at the same time, our brains typically grant the first request and turn down the second." Imagination of sight happens in the same area of the brain as real sight, and so it is with imagination and other senses and functions of the mind.
Visual imagination is very easy for most people to distinguish from real visual input, but this is not the case with prefeeling. "The emotional experience that results from a flow of information that originates in the world is called feeling; the emotional experience that results from a flow of information that originates in memory (when imagining a feeling) is called prefeeling; and mixing them up is one of the worlds most popular sports."
Example: people working out at a gym, when asked if they would be more hungry or more thirsty if lost in the woods, responded relative to their present state (those who had not yet worked out were more likely to say "hungry" and those who had worked out were more likely to say "thirsty").
brains enforce the Reality First principle and insist on reacting to the real world instead of the imagination. Because people don't know that their brains are doing this, they confuse their feelings and prefeelings.
4. In light of Gilbert's research and arguments, should we be more or less confident in theories of happiness which tell us that we should try to improve our ability to achieve happiness by predicting long range goals (bearing in mind that there may be other reasons for having long range goals)?
You cant rate how things would have been if they had turned out differently. You don’t know how many possible future lives you could be happy in, although you might be able to think of ones you would be unhappy in. It might be a wider range than you think. The importance of predictive ability varies by time scale: on a microscopic, day-to-day level, it is good to have a fairly accurate prediction of your future – taking care of tasks, etc. However, on a larger scale, it is not so important to your happiness to accurately know your future. We need to be aware of the limitations of our ability to accurately predict future situations we will be in. These predictions can be enhanced by our awareness of the future.
5. Summarize and evaluate Csiksentmihalyi's initial psychological premises, including the idea of "psychic entropy" and his interest in look at the states of mind that go with our everyday activities.
-"We cannot expect anyone to help us live; we must discover how to do it by ourselves" (evaluation - bullshit! we do not live in a vacuum and there are some things that NOBODY could ever to by themselves, including aspects of "how to live").
-"to live" means to live in fullness, without waste of time and potential, expressing one's uniqueness, yet participating intimately in the complexity of the cosmos.
-Primary question: What makes a life serene, useful, worth living? (Here he is specifically writing with reference to Joe the railroad worker)
-What is life like? How can each person create an excellent life? The first step in answering such questions involves getting a good grasp of the forces that shape what we CAN experience.
-The cycles of rest, production, consumption, and interaction are as much a part of how we experience life as our senses - vision, hearing, and so forth - are. But, how a person lives depends in large part on sex, age, and social position (as well as their time period!).
-There is enough room for personal initiative to make a difference, and those who believe this are the ones with the best chance to shape their fate.
Here is an email I sent earlier that "evaluates" psychic energy, entropy, and negotropy.
I hate this. Listen to how much he is confused. And look how concisely he confuses! "Happiness is the prototype of the positive emotions. As many a thinker since Aristotle has said, everything we do is ultimately aimed at experiencing happiness" (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997, p. 18). Oh, and this.... this.... this awful piece of writing makes me physically ill... "Emotions refer to the internal states of consciousness (that's fine...). Negative emotions like sadness, fear, anxiety, or boredom produce "psychic entropy" in the mind, that is, a state in which we cannot use attention effectively to deal with external tasks, because we need it to restore an inner subjective order" (p. 22). AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! First, and I will limit myself to this objection, if positive psychology was born of evolutionary psychology (which it was), then he has quickly abandoned the position that emotions have functions (a tenet of evolutionary psychology's take on emotions), and that we have them because they are adaptive. What an idiot, he is truly stupid and shortsighted. More from the same paragraph: "positive emotions like happiness, strength, or alertness are states of 'psychic negentropy' because we don't need attention to ruminate and feel sorry for ourselves, and psychic energy can flow freely into whatever thought or task we chose to invest it in" (p. 22). Strength is an emotion? Wha? NO IT ISN'T!!! Alertness is an emotion? Wha? NO IT ISN'T!!! Mental energy "flowing freely"? WHA? This is a poor and sloppy interpretation of what MIND means. It is very very bad. This is total garbage.
6. What is flow? Is it related to happiness? Is so, how? If not, why not? Why do you suppose Csiksentmihalyi is ambiguous about this?
Flow happens when what we feel, what we wish, what we think are in harmony. It is a sense of effortless action they feel in moments that stand out best in their lives. Flow tends to occur when a person faces a clear set of goals that require appropriate responses.
Contrary to the question, Tchaikovsky is not ambiguous about the difference between flow and happiness, and he is adamant that they are mutually exclusive.
"It is the full involvement in 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" (p. 32). His position couldn't be any more clear than that.
There are several contradictions within his account of "flow". For example, he calls it a state of effortless action, but how can a balance between high skill and high challenges be effortless? The answer "it is, and that's why it's flow" does not suffice, though that's my impression of his general position. Also, he has very much difficulty distinguishing between mindless automaticity on the one hand, and highly engaging and demanding tasks on the other. They couldn't be any more different, but it is often difficult to tell how he distinguishes them. This really does not bode well for his theory. Also, if flow provides immediate feedback, how could anybody be in flow if they are working on a project that might take years to complete? And how could they attend to the immediate feedback without breaking the "flow" if the experience already requires full attention? YOU CAN'T!!! That's the answer!!!
ALSO!!! Czechoslovakia couldn't be more philosophically confused. He has a very limited understanding of happiness, and no historical understanding of happiness and virtue. A common thought is that virtue (which is essentially excellence [in a particular activity of the soul]) is essential for a happy life, that a virtuous life will be a happy life. But here happiness (eudaimonia - sometimes translated as "living well" or "human flourishing") is essentially the end that Czajaconda (urbandictoinary.com) is trying to get to through "flow" (which is, in my mind, a very poorly defined description of virtue). But because he has a limited understanding of what it means to be happy or to live a happy life, he does not see the connection and in fact clearly states that they cannot be a connection.
Money, Social Comparison, and Maximizing Behavior
1. Consider and evaluate various hypotheses for explaining the "decoupling" of well-being increases from increases in real income in the US.
The hedonic treadmill affect. Also the fact that more people were diagnosed with depression during the 1960’s when the decoupling started to occur. Social comparison and adaptation have also become more distinct.
2. Drawing on the readings, give your own assessment of the strength of social comparison and the possibility (and desirability) of "defeating" it.
It is not possible to completely defeat it because the competitiveness is not only in our nature, but helps to keep us motivated. However if it gets to the unhealthy level where one is always unhappy because he or she does not have what the neighbors have, then it must be loosened up a bit.
3. Is "anticipation-induced anxiety" a problem for your generation? What is the right approach?
YES we are all afraid of what is next. We want to make more than our parents. The right approach is to relax and not compare as much. Just wait and see what happens!
4. How does Layard account for the "discount" to individual happiness from increases in the general welfare? (not from class, Layard, p. 46) Why might this measure be important?
Because now it’s the treadmill effect. The “roof” for happiness has been risen, and now we must keep fighting to get up to that level. This is important to look at the difference between “healthy” and “Sick” degrees of fighting for happiness. If we get to the point where we are depressed from striving too high, it is at the sick level and needs to come back down.
5. What is the difference between maximizers and satisficers? Is the correlation between maximizers and various kinds of disutility (unhappiness) plausible. Do we live in a culture that puts great pressure on us to "maximize" our experience. Assess.
Maximizers need the absolute TOP best. Satisficers are happier with excellence. Maximizers expect greater satisfaction by finding the best deal.
Feb 26th - Money, Social Comparison, and Maximization Behavior Our focus this week was on explaining, at a deeper level, the initial data we reviewed at the outset of the semester on the relationship between money and happiness. We discussed the difference between an aggregate statistic on the relationship between money and happiness and your own individual assessment of the importance of money to happiness. Of course, Gilbert's skepticism was always in the background of the discussion. When it comes to hypotheses about the "decoupling" of money and well-being in the 60's, one hypothesis is to suggest a set of cultural influences as causal factors, but it may be that a simpler hypothesis is that money just has limited ability to boost individual well-being. There was, however, evidence for the former hypothesis in the data on depression rates and decline of social trust. We also discussed and considered various hypotheses on the nature of social comparison. I was particularly interested in your reflection on whether the strength of social comparison (the degree to which your well-being is affected by comparisons you make to your reference group) is something you can "defeat" by changing attitudes and behaviors. And then there is the further question of whether you should defeat the effect of social comparison. After all, there might be a positive overall effect on your life satisfaction from being able to make yourself a little upset by adverse comparison. Or is that something you should transcend? <nowiki>Insert non-formatted text here</nowiki>
March 18: Gratitude, Savoring, and Future Judgments What are some of the main features of Seneca’s view of gratitude? -Thinks of gratitude as knowing how to give and receive benefit; interpersonal exchange Gratitude: -Builds social sympathy -Voluntary -Virtue -Intrinsically pleasant
- Gratitude involves a responsive feeling toward/due to an undeserved benefit
Why does he think gratitude has an egalitarian dimension? Must 1) Right intentions, yet it is also: 2) Egalitarian: as one has the ability to do something he or she didn’t have to do for anyone aka a low servant couldn’t necessarily do something nice/good for someone else or receive or just have a gratuitous interpersonal exchange as they are obligated to do so many things --because only those who are able to can do this can . . .
How does Adam Smith theorize gratitude? -Gratitude is a moral sentiment the basis of morality is emotions sentiments must be stimulated for emotions emotions morality gratitude/feeling of social sympathy -It feels good to see people helping each other . . .
Structure/Nature of Gratitude: -Gratitude parallels the commercial relationship but it also establishes a relationship above commercial exchange as it is not forced or mandatory
Is it an understatement to say that gratitude an self-interest are in ‘tension’ in capitalism? Well, sort of . . . Capitalism is : 1) Economics, capitalism, wealth of nations, production as means of creating wealth 2) Capitalist model only works in communities with deep moral and social ties with each other 3) Capitalism rewards pursuing self-interest
Why might it be an oversimplification to say, simply, that gratitude causes an increase in well being (or happiness)? Key features of gratitude 1) Undeserved 2) Partially outside of our control 3) Has to be a good or benefit (to you or others) 4) Sincere intentions (not motivated by some reward) What are some of the "functions" that gratitude may serve in our psychology? Gratitude is selfless . . . Social functions of gratitude: 1) Moral sense theory (emotions, sentiments, and so morality to gratitude) 2) Spontaneous small benefits (from and to others interpersonal) 3) Cosmic goods (it goes around yo) -Escaping tragedy (so this could potentially stop)
From your own experience and the evidence you have read, is it reasonable to think that you can raise your subjective well being by increasing the affective trait of gratitude? Why or why not? (umm – yes??)
What are the main pre-conditions for savoring? First: savoring is like gratitude in that it is a way of dehabituating desensitization -it is about slowing down and enjoying it – totally in the moment and expecting Conditions for savoring: -you can not be consuming or enjoying it because you are satisfying some kind of social or esteem need -Present mindedness -Enhancing attention focus – aka not multitasking -Both presently aware of the sensation and yet fleetingly aware of the sensation too
---Delicate oscillation of experiencing the moment and of appreciating the moment
In Chapter 7, "Time Bombs", summarize the key evidence Gilbert uses to suggest that our judgments about the future are likely to be flawed. Humans have difficulties imagining what they want for the future from the present:
- 2 variables that effect habituation: time and variety
-When we are in the present, it looks like the future needs to have a huge amount of variety aka the future looks way more different from the present than it will actually look like when we get there Research: -the no-variety group reports higher well-being/satisfaction -seems paradoxical but usually people get annoyed with all the constant changing
When we conceptualize time, we think of it as space -We imagine experiences in time independent ways
-When we conceptualize time we think about it as space, past behind and future ahead in space, spatial -and that space is the same for a week or 2 years -- and in imagining the future we base it on our present, especially our present emotions – not future emotions/anticipations -don’t take into account in the present is that you will be hungry for spaghetti again – you will get hungry . . . Research: -Salary: 1. 30, 40 and then 50k = 120k 2. 60, 50 and 40 k = 150k -economists and say people are kind of irrational -psychologists look at it and say people want a progression that make you happier – people feel better about an increasing future
Are there any "lessons" one could draw from this evidence for promoting happiness? 1) Accept the indeterminacy of the future --aka Spend more time doing what we like now 2) In some matters, we should be more open to leaving past experiences for new ones --So recognize the problems we have with bias about the past --Also recognize that we overuse the past in our judgment to fill in the future 3) Recognize the uniqueness of it all --Don’t habituate to things – be mindful! --By approaching stuff mindfully you can do maintain the uniqueness of experiences --aka do not habituate, do not allow a sense of normalcy to take over, do not take things for granted