Chapter

Paradoxes of Happiness

Mike W. Martin

in Happiness and the Good Life

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199845217
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933068 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199845217.003.0007
Paradoxes of Happiness

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Should happiness be pursued directly and deliberately, keeping our eyes on the prize? Doing so is self-defeating, according to the paradox of happiness, for it undermines meaning and even enjoyment. Instead we should participate in activities and relationships that we find inherently meaningful, rather than solely because of the happiness we hope to find in them. Then, with any luck, happiness will come indirectly. I believe this paradox expresses an important truth, albeit by using a dollop of hyperbole. Indeed, it expresses a number of truths that are highlighted by dividing the paradox of happiness into a dozen more specific paradoxes concerning aims (hedonism, self-interest), success, freedom, and attitudes.

Keywords: happiness; paradoxes of happiness; hedonism; freedom; success

Chapter.  7150 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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