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Happiness
Posted: 24 July 2008 09:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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homunculus - 24 July 2008 01:01 PM

The state of being that’s commonly called happiness is a result of a “correct” mixture of ingredients that result in chemical balance. I use quote marks above to hint at the fact that no one mixture can be seen as correct, but rather many concoctions are available for anyone to try out. Management of one’s self image as well as one’s life expectations are crucial to the mix, and productivity and social interaction count both as key ingredients and as resultant features of happiness.

You’ve said it all, here, but yer bummin’ me out, man. This leaves no room for woo-woo. The chemical cocktail I prefer is “sarcasm”.

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Posted: 24 July 2008 11:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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Jefe - 24 July 2008 10:57 AM
Shane - 24 July 2008 04:47 AM

You could continue to say a number of different things.  What you’re doing is exploring the specifics of the friendship - something I’m encouraging before the use of your ‘general’ term anyway.  So instead of trying to use a generic rule or definition for the term, why not simply acknowledge that there are going to be relative aspects to each ‘friendship’ - and further to each facet of an individual’s ‘happiness’ and that while a generalized definition or truism may work to start a conversation about the concepts, it certainly doesn’t plumb the entire depth of the conversation.
I’m curious to see where you’d like to go with this generalized definition anyway.

I admit that there is some relativity involved in both friendship and and happiness.  However, I hold that my definition provides enough room for this variety.  Besides it being general is there a specific that you find disagreeable. Can you think of anything that makes you happy that is not valuable or linked closely to something valuable?  Is there something valuable in your life that does not fit in my definition of what is valuable?  I have argued that your example of friendship fits perfectly in my definition?  Do you see an error in that, or is just that you reject to any idea that attempts to categorize items.

BTW:  I really have no where to take this discussion.  If you are tired of arguing over details than I am done too.

P.S.  Salt Creek you are getting warmer.  I admit that I am just a big geek.  Sorry I haven’t read Plato, but I want to though.  I guess that is proof that I am a big geek.  I will give you guys a freebe, I am getting my BA in Theology.

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Posted: 25 July 2008 06:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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Shane - 25 July 2008 03:28 AM
Jefe - 24 July 2008 10:57 AM

You could continue to say a number of different things.  What you’re doing is exploring the specifics of the friendship - something I’m encouraging before the use of your ‘general’ term anyway.  So instead of trying to use a generic rule or definition for the term, why not simply acknowledge that there are going to be relative aspects to each ‘friendship’ - and further to each facet of an individual’s ‘happiness’ and that while a generalized definition or truism may work to start a conversation about the concepts, it certainly doesn’t plumb the entire depth of the conversation.
I’m curious to see where you’d like to go with this generalized definition anyway.

I admit that there is some relativity involved in both friendship and and happiness.  However, I hold that my definition provides enough room for this variety.  Besides it being general is there a specific that you find disagreeable. Can you think of anything that makes you happy that is not valuable or linked closely to something valuable?  Is there something valuable in your life that does not fit in my definition of what is valuable?  I have argued that your example of friendship fits perfectly in my definition?  Do you see an error in that, or is just that you reject to any idea that attempts to categorize items.

BTW:  I really have no where to take this discussion.  If you are tired of arguing over details than I am done too.

P.S.  Salt Creek you are getting warmer.  I admit that I am just a big geek.  Sorry I haven’t read Plato, but I want to though.  I guess that is proof that I am a big geek.  I will give you guys a freebe, I am getting my BA in Theology.

Well, you’ve just run up against it that “being in the process of ‘getting a BA in Theology’ indicates to some people that you know next to nothing”. The concept of “friendship” is subtle for someone like me who does not suffer fools gladly. My attitude is focused on the fact that there are now nearly seven billion human beings on the planet. I just have trouble imagining that all of them are essential for everyone else’s happiness. Many of them are near-clones of some previously-existing type of human being. You are a clone of a BA-in-Theology student, and, until you come up with some original ideas, you will find that people who do not suffer fools gladly will give you a rough time. Get back to me when you know something that six billion other people don’t already know.

The point is that those six billion people are not really in need of hearing some mealy-mouthed preacher redefine “happiness” for them every Sunday (or whatever day of the week they happen to gather together to hear platitudes). The business of “ministering to the flock” is a “manufactured job”, and making a living at it is easy. You don’t need to convince us. All you need to do is convince them. Doing the job well, and giving serious advice to people in need is a job for a mature intellect. It will be another sixty years, my friend, before your intellect is “mature” if you insist on shielding yourself from knowledge that might ever be useful in the “counseling professions”.

As for Plato, consider the words of our very own homunculus, before you proceed to indulge any latent fascination with the Greeks (read this forum’s thread on “the excluded middle” for more details):

homunculus - 24 July 2008 10:37 PM

In my opinion, many Greek concepts are terrific. What would we do without them? Who can possibly know? But I don’t rely much on Freud and I also don’t rely much on Plato, especially due to my having read Popper’s two-volume The Open Society and Its Enemies, which left me with very little respect for Plato as someone who understood humanity. In his day he was a genius beyond description. Today, I see him as a fuckwit.

I will engage your point connecting “value” and “happiness”. When I was a teenager, there was a band called “The Beatles”, and they did a song with a line in it “money can’t buy me love”. The Beatles made a lot of money writing and singing songs like that, so for a skillful artist, songwriting talent is “valuable”, and writing a good song gives “happiness” to such a person.

[ Edited: 25 July 2008 06:49 AM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 25 July 2008 06:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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Jefe - 25 July 2008 10:48 AM

Do we move the goalposts back and forth at need?

Only if we are trying to avoid specifying “the excluded middle”.

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Posted: 25 July 2008 07:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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What truly makes me happy is seeing less and less fuckwittery around the planet. I would equate this to the old Miss America Pageant winner’s use of ‘world peace’ as the ultimate goal.

It will make me even happier when we begin to address fucknuttery, but I am not holding out hope for that to happen in my lifetime.

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‘Every reflecting mind must acknowledge that there is no proof of the existence of a Deity’

‘If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, knowledge of nature destroys them’

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Posted: 30 July 2008 11:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]  
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Hi, Shane ...

Shane - 19 July 2008 05:23 AM

I think ol’ shane is asking us to guess what his definition of a happy life is. That is usually what such a question is about.

Seeing several of the Christians on this forum, I understand why you would be hesitant to give a real response.  However this is an honest question.  In order to prove that Christ brings true happiness, I would have to have a sufficient definition of happiness that is agreed upon by most, wouldn’t I?  Otherwise I would just be spouting off nonsense.  Without a measuring rod to justify my claim, it would be worthless.  Besides, this question has been debated by some great minds and it is indeed worthy of a real discussion, whether you think I am trying to set a trap or not. 

In an effort to prove that I want to view an honest discussion, I will give you my incomplete definition of happiness.  Have your way with it.  “Happiness is obtaining, keeping, and appreciating, those things which are inherently valuable.”
1. The items value can not be based upon its ability to be traded for more gain, such as money, but can be considered useful without it being spent.  Example:  Money is only valuable if you can buy something with it.  Therefore, money does not make you happy, but it can be a tool to acquire those things that make you happy. 
2.  The thing must have its own dignity. 
3.  It must bring dignity and honor to the possessor.
4.  It is valuable in that it is capable of revealing a perfect quality, either in itself or in others,
5. It can cause one to strive to become better himself.

As a template for comparison, you may be interested in listening to a video presentation on the subject of Happiness by Dr. Martin Seligman as part of his discussion of the progress being made by positive psychology.  You can find his talk at this link.

A thesis I might propose is “Christ can only make you happy to the extent that you are involved in meaningful relationships with others and especially those from outside of your own comfort zone.”

If you don’t like the thesis, feel free to modify it.

John

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Posted: 30 July 2008 11:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]  
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Jefe - 25 July 2008 11:19 AM

Whatever you do, don’t allow the title of your Education Program to pigeon-hole you into ignoring the wide array of other fields of human endeavor out there.  They do all interconnect at some point.

Are you suggesting Shane takes your advice in order to avoid paradigmatic solipsism?

[ Edited: 30 July 2008 11:10 AM by John Brand]
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Posted: 30 July 2008 12:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]  
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Jefe - 30 July 2008 03:59 PM

Or self-engendered scholarly solipsistic tendencies.

Would that be due to muted narcissistic leanings which have perhaps been channeled within an adopted soteriological framework so as to gratify those leanings as opposed to recognizing the narcissim for what it is and attempting to move in a more salvific direction without necessarily abandoning the framework?

[ Edited: 30 July 2008 12:43 PM by John Brand]
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Posted: 30 July 2008 12:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]  
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Jefe - 30 July 2008 04:47 PM

I have no idea.

I don’t have this guy on a couch, nor would I begin a psych analysis from a handful of internet forum posts.
I would also hope to avoid jumping to conclusion.

I can see why you would hesitate.  My question can be answered at the abstract level; however. I agree with your advice to Shane and hope that I am following it myself (given my own narcissistic bent).  Do we need a psychological examination in order to channel our natural bents?

[ Edited: 30 July 2008 01:00 PM by John Brand]
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Posted: 30 July 2008 02:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]  
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Jefe - 30 July 2008 05:09 PM
John Brand - 30 July 2008 04:57 PM

Do we need a psychological examination in order to channel our natural bents?

Why would you imply that that was what I was suggesting?

Primarily because you said, “I don’t have this guy on a couch, nor would I begin a psych analysis from a handful of internet forum posts.”.  And, secondarily, because your recommendation appears to be based on your assumption that Shane mean[s] Christian Theology

Would you offer the same advice to someone like, say, Richard Dawkins given the criticism of Terry Eagleton?:

“Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.”  (Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins)

I think that there is a muted narcissistic bent in all of us that could be better channeled by our becoming more acquainted with the paradigms we criticize.

Also, your advice seems rather expensive, don’t you think?

[ Edited: 30 July 2008 02:09 PM by John Brand]
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Posted: 31 July 2008 01:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]  
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John Brand - 30 July 2008 03:00 PM

Hi, Shane ...

A thesis I might propose is “Christ can only make you happy to the extent that you are involved in meaningful relationships with others and especially those from outside of your own comfort zone.”

If you don’t like the thesis, feel free to modify it.

John

Thanks for posting the link.  It was very interesting.  I went to their site, and took the happiness exam, I was a 2.88.
I would say that I see a little of my definition in each of the stages.  I would not say that the sum of all three parts is my definition, but I would not entirely rule it out either.  I would have to look into it more.

First, I want to check to make sure that you realize that you are not proposing a definition of a happy life, but simply a qualification for it.  If you do not, I will explain why.

Second I would say that a meaningful relationship with another person is a great value and therefore could make you happy. (BTW did you get that from this link, because I got something completely different from what he said?)

Third, if happiness comes through meaningful relationships, why would a relationship with Christ be insufficient for providing happiness.  (Please do not say because he does not exist.  I am pretty sure that you are an atheist, so I do not know why you put Christ in your thesis.  However, if it is to accuse me of making the suggestion that only Christ can bring happiness, I must insist that you reread this post, because I do not claim that).

Fourth.  Many have separated from the world, and have lived without establishing any meaningful relationships, but would still consider their lives to be happy.  Therefore, your qualification is not a necessary qualification.

Thanks for the input,
Shane

[ Edited: 31 July 2008 01:55 AM by Shane]
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Posted: 31 July 2008 01:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]  
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Jefe - 30 July 2008 06:26 PM

Hmmm.  Sounds like your making assumptions of your own.
My “assumption” that Shane was studying Christian Theology was actually a vocalization of a guess and an invitation for Shane to answer.

Sorry I missed your invitation there.  Yes it is Christian Theology.  I did not post that piece of information of myself to enhance our conversation Jefe, but only because SaltCreek was trying to “put me on the couch.”  I found it quite amusing, and wanted to play his game a little.  Although, I have to say, I was expecting a bigger rant from him. 

Regardless of Eagleton’s critique of Dawkins, I would offer the same advice to him, yes.  IMHO study of complimentary schools is a good idea, and being bound only to those topics within a single discipline leads to an overabundance of ignorant specialists.

Thank you for your advice.  I deeply appreciate it.  I hope that my little adventure into philosophy is proof of my desire to follow your advice. 

How espensive could it be to choose to take a few elective courses outside of one’s major?

Well, if I do it at my school it is about $750 per unit. (I have a lot of scholarships).  If I do it at a community college about $120 per unit.

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Posted: 31 July 2008 07:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]  
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Jefe - 30 July 2008 06:26 PM
John Brand - 30 July 2008 06:07 PM

Primarily because you said, “I don’t have this guy on a couch, nor would I begin a psych analysis from a handful of internet forum posts.”.  And, secondarily, because your recommendation appears to be based on your assumption that Shane mean[s] Christian Theology.

Hmmm.  Sounds like your making assumptions of your own.
My “assumption” that Shane was studying Christian Theology was actually a vocalization of a guess and an invitation for Shane to answer.

You are right; I did make that assumption.  I’m glad to see that you are consistent with your view that we should learn to understand beyond our immediate context. 

Jefe - 30 July 2008 06:26 PM
John Brand - 30 July 2008 06:07 PM

Would you offer the same advice to someone like, say, Richard Dawkins given the criticism of Terry Eagleton?:

Regardless of Eagleton’s critique of Dawkins, I would offer the same advice to him, yes.  IMHO study of complimentary schools is a good idea, and being bound only to those topics within a single discipline leads to an overabundance of ignorant specialists.

Parochialism? (Same root as parish or ‘to stay within one’s own comfort zone.

Jefe - 30 July 2008 06:26 PM
John Brand - 30 July 2008 06:07 PM

I think that there is a muted narcissistic bent in all of us that could be better channeled by our becoming more acquainted with the paradigms we criticize.

Also, your advice seems rather expensive, don’t you think?

How espensive could it be to choose to take a few elective courses outside of one’s major?

Your list is long (and good as far as what it would take to stretch one’s envelope) but I think that the idea of life long learning might better spread the absorption of various ideas out over time.  When I graduated with my own B.A. (Biblical Studies, 1980), I didn’t understand a portion of what I had been taught.  I had place my confidence in experts whom I later discovered were ignorant specialists.  I took some time (between 1980 and 1990) to immerse myself in my own paradigm so that I, at least, understood that and to expose myself to variations within the paradigm as well as some views which lay just outside the paradigm but were considered heretical.  Then from 1990 through 1993 I again went back to school at a masters level and widened my knowledge base (in terms of biblical studies) so that I was more able to look outside the box that I realized I was in.  From there I continued to expose myself to other views in a similar way that I am doing on this forum ... which always helps to expose my prejudices ... er ... assumptions red face

As for Dawkins, I am not sure that he would respond well to your advice. He regards the christian (muslim and Jew) as delusional fully recognizing that a delusion is “a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence, especially as the symptom of a psychiatric disorder” (God Delusion, 5). 

But you sound more refreshing, Jefe.

Thanks for the conversation ... it was fun!

John

[ Edited: 31 July 2008 08:55 AM by John Brand]
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Posted: 31 July 2008 08:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]  
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Jefe - 31 July 2008 12:03 PM
John Brand - 31 July 2008 11:46 AM


As for Dawkins, I am not sure that he would respond well to your advice. He regards the christian (muslim and Jew) as delusional fully recognizing that a delusion is “a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence, especially as the symptom of a psychiatric disorder” (God Delusion, 5). 

Well, he might not take my advice because he doesn’t know me from krishna, either.  That wouldn’t change my offering.  wink

I should think that what you are advising is self-evident, Jefe.

That’s the funny thing about advice.  I can give it, but no one is under any duress to take it, and I’m not offering it under the delusion that mine is the best variety ever offered, either.  OTOH, it should be fairly apparent to a person of scholarly bent that learning more about a variety of stuff is only likely to benefit one’s overall body of knowledge.

Agreed.  But the problem is that what you advocate means work as well as being willing to move outside the parish or comfort zone (I noted in correcting my spelling of parochialism that it is from the same root as parish).

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Posted: 31 July 2008 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]  
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Jefe - 31 July 2008 01:19 PM
John Brand - 31 July 2008 12:57 PM

Agreed.  But the problem is that what you advocate means work as well as being willing to move outside the parish or comfort zone (I noted in correcting my spelling of parochialism that it is from the same root as parish).

Sometimes stepping outside of one’s comfort zone can lead to unforeseen benefits.

True.  Any examples you are thinking of in particular? 

There is an interesting documentary called The Fog of War which is an interview with former US Secretary of State, Robert McNamara and lessons he learned from his experience.  The most facinating one for me and related to our topic is the lesson that he learned much too late and at far too great a cost after the Vietnam War (in his 80’s at the time).  He went over to Vietnam and talked with the one who had been leading the North Vietnamese against the US in the war.  He found out that the US had completely misjudged the situation.  The North Vietnamese were not a part of the cold war but were trying to protect themselves from what they thought was US imperialism.  The link provides details on the lessons he learned.  Here is a highly educated man leading an enlightened nation but making a horrible error in judgment which could have been averted had he learned to understand his enemy: Lesson #1 Empathize with your enemy.

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