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

Epicurus:

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?)

:D

Social psychology of economic life is fun!


- 2 comments by 0 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Pie

    The truth is in the nature waiting to be discovered. I believe if Newton did not come up with the laws of gravity, someone else would and the laws would be more or less the same. The buddha and that greek philospher realised the same thing, that is, the real happniess comes from getting the source of suffering. If they did not do so, someone else would. The word Buddha means the enlightened one. There are other enlightened beings before the buddha and there will be more so in the future after Buddhism has gone. Also, in Buddhism, it is possible that a person will attain nirvana by him/herself without knowing about Buddhism. They have a special term or this kind of people.

    The truth is out there!

    24 Jan 2006, 23:03

  2. Pie

    sorry, it should be "getting rid the source of all sufferings"

    24 Jan 2006, 23:05


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