Posts by JAWS

    Framing a question is important because the frame limits the conclusions that one can reach. I read the original post and I realized that the way the question is framed does not fit with how I think about happiness. So I’d like to offer my frame as an alternative.

    “But what if in striving solely for happiness as the ultimate goal, we end up not truly achieving it?” This frames happiness as the peak of some mountain that we are climbing and if the ultimate goal is to reach the top, then any means by which we can get there is fair game. A helicopter would be more efficient than climbing.

    When we view happiness as the peak of a mountain we set ourselves up for failure. There is no such summit that can be reached that would mean lasting happiness simply because we got to the top, imho.

    If instead, climbing is the goal, because we enjoy the climb, then our lives are complete even as we are climbing. In this frame, it doesn’t matter whether one reaches the top or not, the pleasure of the journey is what we are after. Our friends etc. are not means to an end, but part of what makes the climb enjoyable. The Epicurean would argue that not only do friends make the climb enjoyable, but that they are necessary for us to be able to enjoy the climb at all.

    I think the second way of thinking about it also prevents us from thinking that happiness is something that we can achieve and then not move away from once it has been achieved – just sitting on top of that mountain for the rest of our lives. It removes the idea that just a little more money, or the next big achievement at work or something is going to be enough to get us to that peak and bring us lasting happiness. It won’t.

    The way I approach happiness is not to find a goal or something that I think will make me happy if I achieve it/acquire it, but rather to ask myself what makes the everyday enjoyable.

    My analogy is not perfect, and I’m sure you can poke holes in it, but it is sufficient for my happiness. I also do not have any reason to think this is an Epicurean stance, it is just my opinion.

    In the example of Elon Musk, I would argue that anyone who works so hard for the sake of the end goal is not a happy person. Achieving the end goal rarely, if ever, provides lasting happiness. BUT, if Elon Musk does what he does because he loves the challenge of figuring out how to make these things happen and enjoys the process, then he is focused on the climbing and not the end goal and is likely a very happy person.

    This was great to read! Thanks for posting.

    I'm curious if you had anything specific in mind for the following statement:


    8. It is best to be cautious about assuming any widely present human characteristic is vestigial or a “spandrel”, something left-over from or incidental to our evolutionary past with no current function.

    How do you “practice” Epicureanism on a daily basis? I ask because I recently got really busy and haven’t spent any time reading Epicurus. It feels refreshing to finally have some time to get back to it, but I would like ideas for things I can do so that in the future I can keep it in the front of my mind even if I don’t have time to spend with it.

    Thanks, everybody!

    It might be a while before we get to the chapter in DeWitt regarding sensations, anticipations, and feelings, so let me post my question here so I don't have to wait for a discussion. :) DeWitt talks about justice being an anticipation. What other anticipations are there?

    In thinking through it myself, the only suggestion that I have come up with so far is honor. I think even young children have an innate sense of honor. If you say something they remember it and expect you to honor what you said. That's why I thought perhaps it would qualify.

    Any other suggestions that you all might have?

    Hey all,

    In our discussion yesterday, Martin expressed an opinion that I agree with and that is that the early chapters of DeWitt have less meat in them than the later chapters because the early chapters are about history. It seems to me that the meat would start at about chapter VII. Any appetite to skip ahead for our online discussions?

    Hi All. I finished the outline of chapter 3, but I don't recall discussing chapter 2 yet. Did we discuss chapter 2? Where do you want me to put my outline? Right now it is in google docs.



    I have 2 dogs - both mutts. The one that is sick is a small (40 lb) black and brown dog - coloring of a Rottweiler, but she's about the size and shape of a Jack Russell. My other dog is about 80 lbs and he looks like a small white and brown St Bernard. He's part Great Pyrenees, which is what you have correct?

    I also work from home and can make it any time that I don't have a meeting or any other prior commitment, so I'll defer to everyone else's preferences. I would have made it on Tuesday, but I ended up having to take my dog to the vet. :( She's doing better now. :)

    I volunteer to do the outline for ch. 3 - which I assume we will cover in April.