Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Categories of "Happiness"

     "... happiness has long been proposed as the ultimate goal of human functioning. However, given the differences between the two conceptions of happiness ... the nature of that goal should be interpreted quite differently. 
     Hedonic enjoyment refers to the positive affects that accompany getting or having the material objects and action opportunities one wishes to possess or to experience. The proponents of ethical hedonism ... contended that such pleasure is the sole good and that the ‘good life’ consists of maximizing such experiences. 
     In contrast, eudaimonia has been defined not in terms of being pleased with one's life, but as the subjective experiences associated with doing what is worth doing and having what is worth having. Eudaimonistic ethics ... proposes that the goal of human functioning is to live in a manner consistent with one's daimon, or true self, where the daimon represents one's best potentials. ... Eudaimonia, as a subjective state, refers to the feelings present when one is moving toward self-realization in terms of the developing one's unique individual potentials and furthering one's purposes in living.
     ... the two conceptions of happiness are both positive subjective states experienced to greater extents when one is engaged in some activities than when engaged in others. They are not, however, independent constructs. When individuals consider the development of personal potentials important, and when they are engaged in activities yielding some success in realizing those potentials, then both hedonic enjoyment and eudaimonia will be experienced. From a philosophical perspective, eudaimonia has been deemed a sufficient, but not a necessary, condition for hedonic enjoyment. There are many things that a person may wish to have or to do that bear no relationship to the development of individual potentials. Engaging in activities that yield some success in attaining goals unrelated to personal potentials would be expected to give rise to hedonic enjoyment but not to eudaimonia.

      The category of activities high on eudaimonia but low on hedonic enjoyment has been considered a theoretical null within philosophy, and it approached an empirical null in the research reported here."
     Waterman AS, Schwartz SJ, Conti R. "The implications of two conceptions of happiness (hedonic enjoyment and eudaimonia) for the understanding of intrinsic motivation." Journal of Happiness Studies 2008; 9: 41-79.

     This paper describes researchers' concise, easy-to-define, and hence necessarily limited concept of happiness.
     Completely overlooked by such research is the aim & fruit of Buddhist meditation practice: "cultivation of disenchantment and dispassion, with 'peace that passeth understanding'" - a qualitatively different category of 'happiness' that can only be experienced & appreciated personally.

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