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What should we value more, truth or happiness?
Posted: 19 January 2011 08:06 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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I’m halfway through Letter to a Christian Nation, I’ve read The Moral Landscape first, and I just thought…

What should we value more, truth or happiness? If allowing someone to believe in something that isn’t real (name it Santa Claus or the Holy Spirit) would mean more well-being for that person than the truth, wouldn’t that be more moral?

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Posted: 20 January 2011 04:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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There is no way to disallow anyone from believing anything. One would be very unhappy if they thought they could. I don’t have any recall of history ever describing a happy dictator. But maybe this is why many people believe that their God is unhappy. If they didn’t believe so then surely they would not be always trying to please her.

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Posted: 10 May 2011 01:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Bahamut - 20 January 2011 01:06 AM

I’m halfway through Letter to a Christian Nation, I’ve read The Moral Landscape first, and I just thought…

What should we value more, truth or happiness? If allowing someone to believe in something that isn’t real (name it Santa Claus or the Holy Spirit) would mean more well-being for that person than the truth, wouldn’t that be more moral?

Sure, we should value truth over happiness and we should value freedom over happiness. If someone wants to suffer or cry over the death of a loved one, he/she shall have the freedom to do so. Noone has the right to make this person happier.

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Posted: 11 May 2011 09:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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The question implies a belief that ‘ignorance is bliss.’  Without truth or the concern and search for truth there can’t really be long-term, objective happiness for the greatness number of individuals.  The goal to be happy without a quest to understand and value truth and knowledge, can only be trivial and short lived.

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Posted: 14 May 2011 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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We should always value truth over happiness. As someone has mentioned before, the question gives the notion that “ignorance is bliss”. We all know to a degree that such a statement is true. Anyhow if I read your post correct you asked if it would be more moral to just allow anyone to believe something that is not true just to maximize their well-being? I would say that it would be immoral to detach someone so far from reality. This is not to say that we impose our will upon the other individual or force them to believe what we want them to believe. There are other ways of doing so.

In reading Harris’s works on a science of morality, in speaking about maximize one’s well-being I do not think he was implying that we detach someone from any sort of metaphysical truths. If so,I personally believe that more damage is done when the truth is reveled.

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Posted: 15 May 2011 01:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Bahamut - 20 January 2011 01:06 AM

I’m halfway through Letter to a Christian Nation, I’ve read The Moral Landscape first, and I just thought…

What should we value more, truth or happiness? If allowing someone to believe in something that isn’t real (name it Santa Claus or the Holy Spirit) would mean more well-being for that person than the truth, wouldn’t that be more moral?


Yes, but the problem is that what isn’t true doesn’t really exist. If you really believe in Santa Claus, but every year he doesn’t give you what you want, how long is it going to take before your believe in him is going to make you unhappy. (“why isn’t santa giving me what I want? He probably thinks I’m bad! I am bad!”)


That is why many people who believe in god live like he doesn’t exist. They don’t expect god to actually help them, so they say to themselves “god helps those who help themselves”.


There is also the issue that certain believes make the believer happy, but everybody else miserable. How do we deal with this?

[ Edited: 15 May 2011 02:00 AM by lente]
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Posted: 15 May 2011 05:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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What kind of damage can incurred when ‘truth’ is revealed?  Psychologically, maybe?  The real damage is denying truth as proven daily by the tolerance of religion, so as not to insult or challenge the irrational faithful individuals, that is making our global reality a living hell in 2011.  Living and thinking with a proper amount of knowledge and sense of objective reality can only enhance ‘well being.’  For instance, more damage and pain (the opposite of ‘well being’) would be incurred if an individual denies gravity and tries to fly out of a second story building.  Of course, we must be discussing reality based, scientifically verifiable truth as opposed to ‘mystical truths’ which never be proven to be true and must be taken on faith only.

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Posted: 20 May 2011 09:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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I find that with an increase in the knowledge of truth comes an increase in happiness.  Take science for example.  Because of science we are now living in a great society.  I don’t find the two to be mutually exclusive, so why can’t we favor both truth and happiness?

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Posted: 20 May 2011 05:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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I find that with an increase in the knowledge of truth comes an increase in happiness.  Take science for example.  Because of science we are now living in a great society.  I don’t find the two to be mutually exclusive, so why can’t we favor both truth and happiness?


Is this really true???? I’m sort of skeptical

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Posted: 20 May 2011 06:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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ohawkins21 - 20 May 2011 09:28 PM

I find that with an increase in the knowledge of truth comes an increase in happiness.  Take science for example.  Because of science we are now living in a great society.  I don’t find the two to be mutually exclusive, so why can’t we favor both truth and happiness?


Is this really true???? I’m sort of skeptical

sure.  Modern medicine for example.  Decreases misery in the world by a far shot.  Modern technology allows for more convenience.  As knowledge increases, the opportunity for human flourishing increases. Although some may become depressed, look at it from a world view perspective.  The more we learn, the more society as a whole tends to flourish.  A look at history would attest to that.

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Posted: 20 May 2011 06:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Many times technological advances actually create new needs that then they satisfy. Consider animals or cavemen, they don’t have any technology and are ignorants in comparison, are they less happy? Some may say they are content with their lifestyle.

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Posted: 20 May 2011 06:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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well if we look at human society as a whole, we can easily see a progression.  Medicine is a very good topic with this.  Albeit a caveman does not know about medicine, would that caveman be happier with or without it?  I find that he would be happier with it.  He may be perfectly content, but would be more content if there were an easier way to live. Ignorance is bliss in that sense, but knowledge is even more bliss.

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Posted: 14 June 2011 12:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Personally I find the two to be mutually exclusive; it’s like asking the question “Should I value using my computer over putting my shoes on?”. Perhaps I am misunderstanding the question. Are you asking something along the lines of: “Is it better I don’t know my wife or husband is cheating on me?”

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Posted: 14 June 2011 03:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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FreeWillFlowChart - 14 June 2011 04:47 PM

Personally I find the two to be mutually exclusive; it’s like asking the question “Should I value using my computer over putting my shoes on?”. Perhaps I am misunderstanding the question. Are you asking something along the lines of: “Is it better I don’t know my wife or husband is cheating on me?”


If we’re going via the situation, then why not ask: “Is it better I know or not know the truth of how to treat my torturous sickness?”  In some conditions knowing truth derives unhappiness, but they’re not mutually exclusive.  As for finding truth as a whole in society (philosophically, scientifically, etc), I say lets search for truth, and then search for happiness derived from truth.  Ignorant bliss is absurd to me.

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Posted: 15 June 2011 01:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Bahamut - 20 January 2011 01:06 AM

I’m halfway through Letter to a Christian Nation, I’ve read The Moral Landscape first, and I just thought…

What should we value more, truth or happiness? If allowing someone to believe in something that isn’t real (name it Santa Claus or the Holy Spirit) would mean more well-being for that person than the truth?, wouldn’t that be more moral


What is real to someone may not be real to you; the same with truths, that follows. Terms like “real” or “truth” are overly used with multiple definitions.


A better question could of been ... What one ought to value more, truth or ignorance?


If one understands that all perceivable truths are transitory and are compounded, then they may be content, rather then happy or sad.


If one must take the position that “this view is right” and “that view is wrong”, then all views are wrong views.
If all views are right, therefore there is no need for truths.
If all views are wrong, therefore all truths are incomplete and are only partial truths.

[ Edited: 15 June 2011 01:28 PM by Gia Cát L??ng]
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Posted: 23 April 2012 03:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Bahamut - 19 January 2011 08:06 PM

I’m halfway through Letter to a Christian Nation, I’ve read The Moral Landscape first, and I just thought…

What should we value more, truth or happiness? If allowing someone to believe in something that isn’t real (name it Santa Claus or the Holy Spirit) would mean more well-being for that person than the truth, wouldn’t that be more moral?

Valuing both equally or valuing happiness above truth leaves the population to indulge in every sort of fantasy, perhaps that in part explains the success of the archaic religions of today.

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The Christian religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be believed by any reasonable person without one.
David Hume

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