Pleasure, Happiness and the Creative Life #86
Richard Taylor on what true happiness means
Welcome once more to our year-long experiment of living the classic theories of happiness in our everyday lives! Today, we’ll look at a question that is very relevant today: are happiness and pleasure the same? Does the enjoyment of pleasures like good food, chocolate, sex and a myriad other things that we consume everyday — do these things really make us happier?
The argument comes from Richard Taylor’s book “Virtue Ethics” (2002) which could be directly from Aristotle. Like every Aristotelian, Taylor wants to link happiness with moral goodness, because that’s the whole point of the Aristotelian argument: that there is no happiness in being a bad person, a mean person or a criminal, and that egoism never pays off for the egoist. This is very much opposed to what many societies seem to be advertising today. Financial success and excessive consumption of goods (the world be damned) are often seen as the way to a happy life. Our economies need us to consume things and to throw them away again at a crazy, suicidal rate, in order to keep the system running. And too often, this is justified by the idea that the more pleasure we manage to consume, the happier we will be. But is that so?