Sunday, October 28, 2012

Success and Attitudinal Happiness


Happiness is something that is the subject of many contemporary philosophers. A deeper understanding of the abstract concept results from different "blueprints" of its nature. John Kekes, in his paper boringly entitled Happiness provides a notable dichotomy between two fundamental aspects of happiness.

Firstly, happiness involves episodes of one's life. The episodes are "... satisfactions derived from what one does and has" (180). The second aspect, and the one that I want to address here, is the attitudinal portion of happiness. "The attitude," Kekes writes, "is satisfaction with one's life as a whole" (ibid). But the nature of the attitudinal conception reveals something that might be a bit controversial about the way he idealizes happiness.

In attempting to elaborate more thoroughly about attitudinal happiness, Kekes writes
The attitudinal aspect of happiness is more than a succession of satisfying episodes. For the attitude requires that the significance of the episodes be appraised in terms of one's whole life... The episodes may be goals achieved, obstacles overcome, experiences enjoyed, or just a seamless continuation of the approved pattern of one's life (ibid).
So, the attitudinal aspect involves observing attitudinal dispositions intermixing with episodic ones. However, this conception seems heavily based on the completion of personal successes (Kekes affirms this by discussing life plans further in the reading). This might be controversial in some circles of liberalism because many believe that people are so extremely diverse, and that all one has to do in order to be "successful" is to practice copious amounts of public individuality, which oftentimes comes off as foolishness.

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