Philosophy Discussion Group – Happiness – Tuesday 31st

The Socratic Society’s Philosophy Discussion Group meets again on Tuesday, March 31st in Morven Brown 372 from 1pm until 3pm. Anyone with an interest in the topic is welcome, and you can come and go at any time; you don’t need to be there for the whole two hours. The discussion group is very informal.

The topic is: “Happiness – what it is and how to get it.”

This blog post is an “open thread” — you are welcome to post comments about this weeks discussion topic.

See you on Tuesday…


5 responses to “Philosophy Discussion Group – Happiness – Tuesday 31st

  1. I’m going to leave the question of the nature of happiness to one more knowledgeable than myself. On the question of how we get happiness, I can think of two possibilities:

    1) Happiness is a choice. Harmful and beneficial events happen to us in our lives, but the primary factor that influences our level of happiness is whether we are happy people. It is our attitude to our circumstances rather than the circumstances themselves that makes the difference. Note that I don’t mean that we choose to do things that make us happy, rather that we choose to be happy by having the right attitude to whatever comes our way.

    2) Happiness is something that happens to us. In other words, its presence or absence can be explained by our circumstances. If we experience more “happiness causing events” then we will be happier.

    Is happiness a choice? I know people who suffer terribly and yet still manage to be cheerful people. I also know others who have every reason to be happy and yet are always negative and unhappy. It is easy to conclude that the former have chosen to have a positive attitude. Of course, when faced with a person who is depressed because they have just suffered some calamity, it seems counter-intuitive to declare that “happiness is a choice” and conclude that this person has chosen to be unhappy. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that happiness is a disposition rather than a choice.

  2. Perhaps its a mental state, a particular combination of chemical and electrical activity in the brain… i wonder if hapiness can be artificially stimulated… i wonder if people would do that?

  3. David – I think you are right in saying that it is a disposition, not a choice.

  4. HAPPINESS is a uniquely INDIVIDUALLY REACTIVE STATE VARIABLE to favorable circumstances and therefore a very serious problem!

  5. Christina von Cohausen

    I saw and read the discussions above on happiness and thought I leave this post.

    My name is Christina von Cohausen and I am conducting research that examines the effects of mood-boosting techniques on people’s well-being and happiness. The study is completely anonymous and online. If you are 18 years or older and you would like to participate and learn more about techniques to increase your well-being, please go onto the following web-site: contact me at

    Warm regards, Christina

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