October 20, 2015

The quest for happiness

Philosophy

Daniel M. Haybron is a Professor of Philosophy at the St Louis University who, according to common sense, should have many reasons to smile. Last year in July he was awarded a $5m grant from the John Templeton Foundation to further finance a 3-year project focused on happiness. Yes, Daniel M. Haybron, through in-depth research and study, is attempting to find an answer to one of the oldest questions: what does ‘being happy’ truly mean.

Haybron’s studies have been published in the past on the New York Times, where he suggested to base our definition of happiness on our complex emotional balance rather than on satisfaction only. When we feel happy, our emotions and our moods are the antithesis of anxiety and depression: when we smile, anger seems an inconceivable feeling, we are full of energy, full of life.

A mix difficult to achieve, but when it does occur, we need to be able to recognise it, don’t we? The recipe for happiness is a chimaera, an utopian fantasy that you won’t find on this blog. Nevertheless, Daniel M. Haybron is trying to identify the basis on which it is built, from the feeling of existential safety to good future prospects, through the need of feeling in charge of our own lives and having a job that makes us feel appreciated. If we are unhappy, probably there’s at least one of the above-mentioned factors missing in our existence.

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