Happiness 1st Draft

Happiness 1st Draft - Chakraborty 1 The time I have spent...

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Chakraborty 1 The time I have spent on this earth has been short, but eventful. I have suffered and thrived in cruise control on a roller coaster that has taken me from the depths of hell to the peaks of heaven. I have claimed to know much, only to realize soon after that I know nothing at all. I have analyzed, questioned and picked apart every significant occurrence that has molded my personality to date. But on this journey to understand the meaning of my existence, as well as what we, as humans, have been put on this earth to do, I have arrived at only one concrete conclusion. At this point in my path, I cannot fathom the purpose of life. I can, however, say with confidence, that there is a single reason that we act the way we do. All humans are on a quest for happiness. We want to be happy, and to stay happy. And we spend much of our lives trying to figure out exactly what it is that will make us happy. Freud put it most eloquently as he wrote, “[The quest for happiness] has two sides, a positive and a negative aim. It aims, on the one hand, at an absence of pain and displeasure, and, on the other, at the experiencing of strong feelings of pleasure” (Freud, 1930). Freud was certainly a strong advocate of this idea, but was not it's father. The idea that all humans search for happiness has been observed in the theories of Aristotle, Hobbes, Plato, Mill, Bentham, and many others. But if it has been so clear to us all along that happiness is our ultimate goal, then why do we struggle with it so? Where lie the keys that manage to lock humans from happiness so securely? Some of us may believe it is money, while some think love. Some believe that living every day as if it were your last is a surefire path to contentment. Others would say that achieving nirvana is the ultimate state of bliss. I have come to realize that the path to happiness may be different for every person. But there are certain concepts that every human embarking on this quest must understand before proceeding any further. There are many things in our world that will make us happy. This, however, is not enough. We must do our best to sustain happiness
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Chakraborty 2 in our lives. And in order to achieve a perpetual state of happiness, it is imperative for us to be comfortable with the different aspects of happiness from both a philosophical and scientific perspective simultaneously. I will attempt to divide and categorize different aspects of happiness from neuroscientific and philosophical standpoints. Understanding the subtle differences between these divisions will be instrumental in deciding whether the outcome of one's search for happiness will be success or failure. Perhaps it is important to first give a working definition of happiness. Alexander Pope said in his Essay on Man on the topic of happiness: “Who thus define it, say they more or less / Than this, that happiness is happiness?” (Pope, 1744). Unfortunately, though poetic, this is not entirely suitable for our purposes. Happiness can really be divided into two broad categories. The
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This essay was uploaded on 04/21/2008 for the course PHIL 98 taught by Professor Flanagan during the Spring '08 term at Duke.

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Happiness 1st Draft - Chakraborty 1 The time I have spent...

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