Montag, 10. Oktober 2011

Criticism of Happiness as a motive


From what I read of Plato, Aristotle, Weber and Mill, it seems to me that they all assume one common attitude: that the ideal way of life is the one which maximizes the happiness of an individual or a society, depending on the kind of ideology these philosophers are proponents of. 

I believe and of course (as usual), not without reason, that this is the single most fatal mistake of philosophy. This one error bears responsibility for all the known previous ways of life leading  to a literal dead end. 

I will try to explain why.

The measure of the strength of a society is innovation. The more innovative it is, the more capacity it has to brush away the problem of continual expansion without out-consuming resources. The popular, Malthusian logic dictates a gloomy ending to any expansion but, such a dystopian future is avoided by equally powerful means of discovering new resources though the defining feature of mankind :

Technology. 

Technology (in association with science) allows us to keep up with the incremental population by exploring literally new horizons and producing paradigm shifts that can change not only the lifestyle but also the very fabric of social order. 

Such a successful and innovative society can not be a peaceful society. It must be plagued by the continuous wars of survival and competition of ideas and individuals vying with each other for superiority.  A man seeking happiness is a peaceful man. He does not have a fiery restlessness in his heart that makes him loose track of hunger and sleep, while solving a problem, but rather an empty coldness that seeks the warmth of the nearest hearth of solace. A man seeking happiness, is in effect a man seeking death. He seeks the means to become unproductive, to become safe and cosy. He seeks the means to end conflict. His world is static, spiraling towards a singularity that will become unsustainable. His values are peace and lack of ambition, that create a dying society with the comfort seeker its terminal man. 

The man who seeks knowledge, wealth or recognition, on the other hand, is a passionate being who brings with himself an unstoppable force of personality, that induces change unto himself and into the world. He struggles to find recognition for his ideas and fights for them, stolidly withstands ridicule and if correct and obstinate enough, finally triumphs. His world is a changing world. With every new thought he brings, he is a new iteration of his own self. This man is not really one fixed person but only a stepping stone for becoming someone better. This man is alive. He lives is a living world.


So. We come to the conclusions. 

Does this mean that happiness is wrong? That it is a mistaken drive, that makes us feel 'gladness'?


No!

All it means is that Happiness should not be an end-goal but just a by-product of other pursuits. Because as a by-product of victory it is a fuel. A fuel that feeds the unquenchable fire of ambition that burns in the hearts of men and leads them into new conquests. 

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