March 16, 2012

"I have told myself a hundred times that I would be happy if I were as stupid as my neighbor, and yet I would want no part of that kind of happiness."

"But yet, upon reflection, it seems that to prefer reason to happiness is to be quite insane."

40 comments:

bagoh20 said...

Isn't this the lesson of Adam and Eve tasting the apple. I'm not a Christian, but that book really is an amazing work.

Phil 3:14 said...

Reason vs happiness.

This is the similar to that bumper sticker

If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention

PS Happy warriors do better in elections.

~N. said...

Yes, but do people want relentless bliss? If there is no suffering, can perfect happiness be appreciated?

If you think of the story of Adam and Eve, where does it go without the fall? Pretty dull story, and who'd care? What would be the point in reading it?

Ignorance is only bliss if you remain completely and eternally ignorant. Sounds worse than hell.

Kit said...

If the cost of my being right is my happiness, I'll pass. Thanks.

Pastafarian said...

Also from Voltaire:

"Ain't got no cash, ain't got no style; ain't got not girl to make you smile. But don't worry be happy."

I'm pretty sure that was Voltaire. Then he went into some sort of "woo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo" thing that made my head hurt.

Christopher said...

It has always seemed to me that the people who like to say such things are just looking to rationalize their own miserable attitude.

Methadras said...

Reason is in the eye of the beholder. Happiness tends not to be. Either you are or you are not. I choose to be happy. I try to be happy. It isn't so much reason vs. happiness, since you can be both reasoned and happy. The idea that they are exclusive seems odd.

traditionalguy said...

True Happiness would be not knowing the Con Law that Professor Althouse taught us, and not caring.

bagoh20 said...

Regardless of what else reason tells you, if it doesn't tell you that choosing to be happy is better than not, then maybe you really aren't that good at reason either.

edutcher said...

Ignorance is bliss, they say.

At least until life blindsides you some Tuesday at 2 in the afternoon.

bagoh20 said...

I was happy when I read the first happiness post today, but now I'm getting really pissed by this.

YoungHegelian said...

Good Ole Voltaire! It takes true genius to pack that many philosophical straw men into one didactic fable!

Notice Voltaire's clever equivalency of the old woman's faith with her ignorance & bigotry. He doesn't want to admit that it's her faith that gives her grounding, because that cuts the legs out from his hobby-horse.

Unless, of course, I'm not giving Voltaire his due, and this fable is WAAAY more self-subversive than I give it credit.

Judging from what Voltaire thought of Pascal, I seriously doubt it.

Ann Althouse said...

"I was happy when I read the first happiness post today, but now I'm getting really pissed by this."

My devious scheme is working!

Rusty said...

What' with this ,"happiness"
happy horse shit meme?

I was in a good mood till this shit showed up.

Damon said...

"But yet, upon reflection, it seems that to prefer reason to happiness is to be quite insane."

Ha - way too broad a comment. Trying to reason base principles is pointless. For example - trying to reason your existence may seem genious (I think therefore I am), but it lacks a point. People reason all the time and are happy as clams, but you have to reason from reality not some fairy tale land. People who ignore the reality they live in are conflicted by definition.

jimbino said...

Happiness doesn't, and never has, meant "bliss."

In phrases like "...the pursuit of happiness" it meant prosperity, good fortune, and contentment.

For me, it is akin to Maslow's "self-actualization," which could never result from ignorant bliss.

Chip Ahoy said...

I was very happy to get the large aquarium completely cleaned up.

But I was unhappy to have killed all but three of the little fish in there by filling the tank with water that became too hot while filling.

But I was happy to get rid of all those plants taking over the whole thing.

But I was unhappy to have to tear out ALL the plants.

But I was happy there is such an amazing variety of aquatic plants available to design a Takashi Amano style tank.

But I became unhappy again when I noticed the UPS charge went from $9.00 to $32.00, which caused me to cancel my order from that place.

Happy again because I discovered the carpet cleaner is brilliant for sucking up aquarium overspills.

Now I'm unhappy again to notice one of the ballasts is out and replacing it is a pain in the bum.

I'll be happy again to have the fish and plants restored to a jewel-like living and moving mise-en-scène.

So I see this aquarium is an up and down thing of happiness and I suppose that makes me happy altogether.

Speaking of Takashi Amano, have you seen the tanks he has inspired? He revolutionized the world of fresh water aquariums by introducing CO2 and very strong lights. Especially in Asia.

Going on 30 years, it's a slow revolution.

2011 winners 60-120 liter.

John M Auston said...

Nice story by Voltaire.

I also would not trade "reason" for happy ignorance, and if I ask myself why, it is probably because I can easily imagine the happy-in-ignorance person falling into a life tragedy ("the slings and arrows of outrageous Fortune"), due to their ignorance, and thus, being no longer happy.

ricpic said...

Voltaire was plenty stupid in a super clever way.

MayBee said...

It has always seemed to me that the people who like to say such things are just looking to rationalize their own miserable attitude.

Agreed.
Miserable people like to convince themselves that unhappiness takes more intelligence.
We frequently see that attitude in "smart" entertainment. "Intelligent" people love the "realism" and deep meaning of the depressing/discomforting book/movie/artwork.
Then the creator commits suicide.

William said...

Please note that this old sack of shit is married to three gorgeous women. The only point of their lives is to give him pleasure. If he thinks he's unhappy, he should check out what's going on with their interior lives......This pious old fraud is as happy as he knows how to be. His stated unhappiness is just another way of reflecting on his superior taste as he chews the lives of others.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

edutcher said...

Ignorance is bliss, they say.

Hmm? They say what?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I have told myself a hundred times that I would be happy if I were as stupid as my neighbor...

You've told yourself that because you are an arrogant prick. Your neighbors are most likely not stupid. They just know different things than you. Things of value.

Alex said...

File this one under "intelligent people are more depressed because they know the world".

Alex said...

Except that Adam & Eve is the myth that never happened. Human history is one of unending suffering punctuated by fleeting moments of happiness.

Alex said...

Happiness is being young, healthy and rich. Oh and really hot.

Christy said...

Remember Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman? Seems like we were all reading it 15 years ago. I was exceedingly disappointed to learn that, by my value system, the happiest people are the shallowest. My EIQ needs work, obviously.

Bender said...

Isn't this the lesson of Adam and Eve tasting the apple.

We were made for freedom -- authentic freedom. Thus, we are also created with a capacity for free choice of the will. This free will, an ability to choose, includes the ability to freely choose to return God’s love, or the freedom to reject Him and live our lives apart from Him.

Accordingly, the man and the woman of Creation were free to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, even though God had warned them not to: "the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die."

The man and the woman thought that they could be like gods themselves, that they could then choose their own truth, their own reality, their own concepts of right and wrong. They thought that they could be self-actualizing, self-fulfilling, and self-sufficient.

In today's world, there are many people who believe this. Indeed, we could easily say that we are, ourselves, both Adam and Eve, that the story of the Fall of Man is one that repeats itself on a daily basis.

However, the man and woman were wrong. In eating the fruit, in freely choosing to oppose God, believing that they did not need the one true God, but could be gods themselves, Adam and Eve did not become gods, but instead fell from truth into error.

And error necessarily leads to more error, until ultimately you are so removed from Truth and Love, i.e. Life, that you are "doomed to die," and not merely bodily death, but eternal death, that is, Hell.

The lesson of the man and the woman ("Adam" and "Eve") is that our eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge does not free us, it does not make things clearer, it does not make us like gods, empowered to choose and determine what is right and what is wrong; it only enslaves us to error and unhappiness and, ultimately, death.

We are not gods unto ourselves. We are not the makers of truth. And whenever man has sought to make himself a god, he has instead made himself a devil, making a hell on earth.

EMD said...

Despite levels of intelligence and reason, happiness is a choice.

It's that simple.

Freeman Hunt said...

Stick with the devil you know.

Nora said...

They say, it's better to be healthy and rich than poor and sick. Or is it? Reason does have it's limitations, isn't it.

Some 30 years ago I valued Voltaire much more then I do today. He was not that clever, just devious, imo. Now my kids are into Voltaire, and when they were trying to get my opinion I just told them that I don't remember much. I think, getting over Voltaire is a part of growing up. So they will get over him (... or not) all by themselves.

I did insisted they read Huxley, Golding and Zamyatin, though.

Alex said...

We are not gods unto ourselves. We are not the makers of truth.

Steve Jobs was. He made his own reality through iPods, iPhones and iPads.

Nora said...

EMD said...
Despite levels of intelligence and reason, happiness is a choice.

A friend of mine, a psychiatrist, says it's all chemistry.

Blue@9 said...

Ignorance is only bliss if you remain completely and eternally ignorant. Sounds worse than hell.

Why would it be hell? You'd be happy and wouldn't know any different.

Carnifex said...

why are you people making this a dichotomy? It is obviously a yin/yang situation. If I was reasonless, how would I know if I was happy. And if I was just all emotion, and that emotion happiness, how could I know without any reason?

Rather, reason is a tool we use to achieve happiness. And what makes us happy depends on who we are, and that is dependent on our reason.

I myself nearly burst with happinesss when I see my grandchildren. I am happy when I am doing carpentry. I am happy when I am with my wife. We don't have to be doing anything, just being in her presence makes me a better person, and that makes me happy.

My dad holds this same dichotomy in his head. Men don't cry, Men don't show love. Men do the thinking.

I reject this notion. My feelings are valid. Just as valid as my intellect. Why would I lobotomize myself? It's like western thought can't hold 2 ideas in its head at the same time(bad analogy...I'm starting to reach)

A story is in order. We had a cat, and as cat people will tell you sometimes a cat will bond with a certain person. That person becomes their human. The cat will act in always like a cat, except for that person. Then it acts more like a dog. It will come when you call it. It will beg for a petting.

Anyway we had a small delicate gray and white tabby, and I was its human. As I did chores around the house the cat would accompany me, and actually try to help. If I was stripping wall paper, it would sit on its back legs and scratch at the wall paper, if I was painting, it would lash its tail over the area I had just painted(to my chagrin).

The cat got sick. So sick I took it to the 24 emergency clinic in another city. They got the cat back on its feet after 24 hours, but it cost me $800. There was also a caveat when they "remedied" the cat. It could relapse in 2 weeks and have to be done again.

It was home for 1 day before it relapsed. I took it to the local vet this time and got the same diagnosis. I could save the cat, it would cost $800, and it might not last anyway.

So we had the cat put down. Only while I was holding the cat down for the vet to give it the injection, she kept screwing it up...missing the vein. It was a small cat after all. So the cat was screaming in pain, and my wife was crying, and I had to hold down this little animal that worshipped me while they effed up killing it humanly. Finally, it took to biting me. And all I could do was hold onto the cat and let it bite me...

Afterwards, when my wife had ceased crying, and the vets had removed the cat I started crying. And I don't cry lightly. Great wracking sobs shook my body, and animal like noises came from my throat.

I could have avoided all that. Reason dictated that I should have just dropped the cat off at the vet and be down with it. Emotion dictated that I spend another $800 on the cat. I had the money.( but not for a third treatment). Regardless, I did what I thought was required. I held my special friend to the last because I couldn't in all honesty rationalize spending the money to save her.

To have deep happiness, to have deep love, you have to have deep sadness, you have to have deep emotions. To have deep emotions you have to have deep thought.

Lem said...

"Smartest Person I Know"

consider this...
the smartest person I know
was worried that they don’t fit in
when everyone’s running this way
they’re always running that way.

the smartest person I know
was worried about their career
their work was once important
now it’s empty and redundant
and when they mentioned something ‘bout a fifth wheel...

I told the smartest person I know
“big wheels turn real slow
when you finally get a bone to throw
there’s no dog around to catch it.”

“the trouble with you is you’re right
you’re awkward because you’re normal
you’re worthlessly over-qualified
and hopelessly hopeful.”

“the trouble with you is you’re right,
you’re the smartest person I know,
that’s why you feel like fifth wheel...”

“the trouble with you is you’re right
isn’t that most inspiring?
really such a comfort
useful and encouraging.”

“the trouble with you is you’re right
and the smartest person you know
also probably feel like a fifth wheel...”

the smartest person I know
was worried about their lover
“we were both going this way
now we’re both going that way.”

the smartest person I know
asked if anybody else was sick of living
with the end just around the corner
under the boom that never comes.
and again they mentioned something ‘bout a fifth wheel...

“the trouble with you is you’re right
you’ve got values so you’re immoral
you struggle ‘cause you work too hard
not cool ‘cause you’re too real.”

“the trouble with you is you’re right
like this other person I know who says
I’M the smartest person they know
and be glad that I feel like a fifth wheel...”

phx said...

Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” - she always called me Elwood – “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

-Elwood P. Dodd

John Lynch said...

Choose to be happy. If you can't, how smart are you?

The Crack Emcee said...

Sure, go on - be happy.

That oughtta cheer you right up,...

n.n said...

A condescending perception of your neighbor is its own happiness.