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Hi Chris I certainly favour the alleviation of unhappiness, where feasible. But happiness is still a very tricky concept. A man might be happier not knowing he has an inoperable cancer which will kill him in six months; but we feel it's our duty to tell him, even if we thereby make him much less happy. A woman may well be happier in the grip of a fantastical religious delusion than with a sober scientific view of her place in the universe, but we still feel truth is better than fantasy. I prefer to think that people should flourish, should try to live their lives with their eyes wide open, and should seek to achieve as much as possible of their human potential; both for themselves, their friends and family, and - where possible - the whole of humanity. They might be happier staying in bed or smoking marijuana all day, but that isn't flourishing. Our time on this Earth is limited, and this necessarily leads us to conflicts which no political action can ever do away with. We can not devote ourselves 100% to our careers and 100% to our families - even if we have armies of servants. Whichever we prioritize, we will always have regrets about what we give up. So we will say we're "unhappy", simply because we have amazing choices which earlier generations lacked. This can lead to the idea that Medieval peasants dying of the Black Death were less unhappy than we are - because they had no real life choices at all.
Toggle Commented Jun 21, 2009 on Real freedom & unhappiness at Stumbling and Mumbling