All entries for Friday 20 January 2006

January 20, 2006

Quoting about Happiness

I read this in the begining of the week and thought I should put it up here to share with people. This is a book called To Have or to Be by Erich Fromm

It mainly discussed, as I understand, how things go wrong in a capitalist system (based on the dominant philosophies) in a social psychological perspective.

Fromm suggests that the failure of free the human being of the system we are in now is due to two basic psychological premises:

(1)that the aim of life is happiness, that is, maximum pleasure, defined as the satisfaction of any desire or subjective need a person may feel (radical hedonism)
(2) that egotism, selfishness, and greed, as the system needs to generate tem in order to function, lead to harmony and peace

There has been a sequence of western philosophies to support such premises dating back to thousands years ago. Nonetheless, he noticed that there was one exception of Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus amongst the hedonists


pure pleasure meant 'absense of pain' (aponia) and stillness of the soul (ataraxia) … pleasure as satisfaction of a desire cannot be the aim of life, because such pleasure is necessarily followed by unpleasure and thus keeps humanity away from its real goal of absense of pain.

I think apart from the terminologies applied, the quotation is much like what I read about Buddhism previously (refrain from suffering – pain etc.). It leads me to think of two things:

1. Is there a universal culture that if we seek back to the history, people were actually thinking of and pursuing the same things, it is just the development of history that segmenting the cultures, and there maybe a force now to push them back together again? (does it sound naive? I do have came across the notion of universal culture somewhere else before)

2. Or, could it be that the western readings of eastern philosophies are totally based on the interpretation of existing western philosophies? (orientalism?)


Social psychology of economic life is fun!



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