We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
...in the eighteenth century, our earthly happiness became important to us, in high intellectual fashion. By 1776, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” was an unoriginal formulation of what we all, of course, now admitted that we chiefly wanted. John Locke had taught, in 1677, that “the business of men [is] to be happy in this world by the enjoyment of the things of nature subservient to life, health, ease, and pleasure”—though he added piously, “and by the comfortable [that is, comforting] hopes of another life when this is ended.” By 1738, the Comte de Mirabeau wrote to a friend, recommending simply, “[W]hat should be our only goal: happiness.”
“Our only goal.” To see how strange such a remark is, consider whether it could have been uttered by a leader of opinion in 1538. Martin Luther? Michelangelo? Charles V? No. They sought heavenly, artistic, or political glory—not something so domestic as happiness. Yet, in the late seventeenth century, even Anglican priests commenced preaching that God wanted us to be happy as much as holy. They called it “eudaemonism.” Anglicans and, astonishingly, some New England Congregationalists turned against the old, harsh, Augustinian-Calvinist line. We are not, declared the eudaemonists, mere sinners in the hands of an angry God, worms unworthy of grace. We are God’s beloved creatures, his pets.
The eudaemonistic turn was a Very Good Thing, resulting in fresh projects to better our stay here on Earth, some of them remarkably successful. Democracy was one, since, if you followed the fashion for universal happiness, it became impossible to go on insisting that what really mattered was the pleasure of the Duke or the Lord Bishop. Enlightened despots of the era claimed to seek the good of all, which paradoxically gave the populace the idea that maybe they themselves could do it.
I will remind our readers that Freud (yes, still relevant in many ways but not in all ways) had a somewhat tragic view of life and figured that pleasure and joy certainly matter, but that, overall, ordinary - "non-neurotic" - unhappiness is man's fate. Some days, I agree with that, other days, I don't.
By coincidence, Schneiderman's Unhappy or Depressed? I will need to return to the Dalrymple piece he quotes, later.
an Anglo-Catholic might simply define happiness as aligning oneself with, and doing God's will. as I see it, any other nontrivial definition of happiness falls short, considering that disease, suffering, loss and death are inevitable (in fact, are promised).
"Happiness or pleasure belongs to the naturalistic plane and is marked by passivity toward the world of impulses, instincts, passions, and inclinations. Tradition defines the basis of naturalistic existence as desire and thirst, and ardent pleasure is that which is tied to the satisfaction of desire in terms of a momentary dampening of the fire that drives life onward. Heroic pleasure, on the other hand, is that which accompanies a decisive actions that comes from being, from the plane superior to that of life." Julius Evola
In other words, if you want happiness, join a Buddhist monastery; if you want glory, welcome to real life.
Maybe happiness is best pursued, unpersued --considered as if a normal state of being that can and will be degraded only to the extent that we hunt for ways to actively degrade it --seek to evade, dilute, ignore, and generally stymie and thwart it.
For example, happiness certainly requires a feeling of accomplishment. We need to have a feeling of accomplishment, in order to override the ticking clock, the press of time that separates us from the animal kingdom (not to mention the plant kingdom).
What if, instead of objectifying and minimizing the grandiosity of the thing, we subjectively --using the logic of results, which in this case is 'happiness' --see the feeling of accomplishment as the result of being happy?
IOW, only if you are happy, have you accomplished the purpose of life. This shortens to a felt need to ''accomplish life''.
This is a very common attitude it seems to me --and the dark secret in it is, it makes happiness synonymous with death --because death is the state of having accomplished life.
For the other way, the way without the cosmic strings attached, of seeing accomplishment, watch this old blacksmith.
It's for real --it's the mid-70s, on camera the couple is a local troubadour, Townes van Zandt, and his ladyfriend. They for a period of time were (promoting Towne's career by) just dropping in and interviewing whatever interesting folks they might, and trying to get the film onto the local Austin events roundups just before the weather at 5:45 a.m.
Here they are not far from where i am now sitting, but somehow it is thirty(by golly)seven years ago.
They're shootin the breeze in the Dripping Springs home of the Walkin' Blacksmith --an old black feller, Seymour Washington, now long RIP (as is van Zandt, who died young, like Hank Williams), who due to his horse shoeing engagements scattered around two and three counties, was always out and about coming and going walking and hitching --and so was a moving fixture around west Austin and its little solar system of hill villages.
Watch Townes quickly get him onto the deepest of all subjects, 'how I live'. About halfway into the 6 or 7 minute video, as Mr. Washington is waxing rather loquacious (respecting the chance to offer his 79 years store), he says, "...and always keep doin' something. If it ain't much, do a [/i]little[/i]."
Way back, in a sort of way of emphasizing what our founders used the word ''pursuit'' (of happiness) for, the Hellenic Apollo cults would worship Apollo (god of order, reason, moderation, civic virtue, all that good stuff) only three seasons of the year. The fourth, winter following the harvest, Dionysus rose to the fore, eclipsing Apollo until until Spring, when all the worthies would have to quit drinking and breeding so they could put in the crops --under stern Apollo's watch once again.
One wonders, why all the fuss --why not just just keep APLLO BUT JUST SORT OF STOP READING HIS EMAILS FOR AWHILE, SO YOU COULD PARTY DOWN?
(good god, where did those caps come from! --sorry)
The reason for the odd teacher's union vacation for Old Mr. Perfect was, this way the folks didn't have to secretly and furtively defy their god, and he didn't have to disapprove and fling down guilt --he was FINE with the vacation --he knew, as his flock knew, that falling off the wagon is dangerous for a human being --more than bones can break --and might as well be hung for a goat as a sheep --once shamed, forever more or less shameful.
So, Old Pan would officially take over with the blessing of all --and at the end of the season, as soon as photosynthesis announced there was work to be done --old Pan would light out again .
Fortuitously, all those babies born from his romp, would be born in time for ladies to get preggars again the next time the Right Reverend Deacon Apollo went on Sabbatical and let the little imp get hold of the pulpit again.