Of course happiness can be obtained by intellectual pursuits, but the key words in the question were "satsfied" and "unsatisfied". A man may be able to get happiness from less base things, but if he's unsatisfied then the satisfied pig is clearly getting more happiness even if it is just from rolling in mud(Original post by Fullofsurprises)
Happiness can surely be gained from intellectual probing, internal discussion and the exchange of ideas? Many great people who have been in continuous pain have nevertheless 'enjoyed' life, at least on the level of being grateful for their continuation, so that they might contribute more.
I think the analogy of animals is a bit unhelpful, because we're really talking about the continuation of intelligence as an end in itself regardless of physical limitations and we don't know what levels of sentience or self-reflection mammals, for example, are really capable of, or what constitutes 'happiness' in the context of their mental processes.
I agree that animals are a bad comparison, but how about children? And I don't know about everyone else but I can guarantee I was happier as a child playing in a cardboard box than I am now doing a project in a lab.
I think the issue is that people are afraid to admit they enjoy "base" things as they feel it lowers them to the level of those they deem beneath them. People tell themselves that their appreciation of Mozart is more profound than a teenage girls enjoyment of "let it go". But in the end that is a load of crap; let it go is catchy, stuffing your face on cake is awesome, playing in a cardboard box is some of the most fun we have ever had, and intrllect does not necessarily make you enjoy life more. I would rather be a happy fool than a depresed genius.
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Is it better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied? watch
- 05-12-2014 12:23
- Community Assistant
(Original post by Fullofsurprises)
- 05-12-2014 12:29
Sure, I was being a bit flip, I realise Russell was discussing the tendency to believe in higher causes for self-infliction or mundane occurrences (isn't that just misattribution or even religion really?), but I was picking up on his first sentence, "I think people who are unhappy are always proud of being so, and therefore do not like to be told that there is nothing grand about their unhappiness" - I can't help thinking he was talking there about the desire to advertise unhappiness and seek explanations, both fairly simple things psychologically and not easy to work into grand psychological points without a certain Russell-ish predisposition to grandiosity.
As for seeking explanations for their unhappiness, I don't agree on that point. I expect Russell was talking about the opposite - people assuming they know the causes of their unhappiness without seeking explanation; the idea it could be due to a lack of exercise never crossing people's minds. I think Russell would be in support of investigations to understand one's own conditions, as indeed he wrote a book on happiness, so one would expect he wanted people to seek and become more aware about the causes of it and its opposite.
- 05-12-2014 13:37
Good question, the pig does not know what he is ignorant of, he is like the person with no intellectual or aesthetic experiences, the anti Socrates. However if we are to accept utilitarianism, then surely what matters most is happiness which is an authentic pleasure (not the sort you get from drugs that temporary suppresses sadness), the pig can get no pleasure from intellectual or aesthetic experiences and in this sense it is better to be human. I think Faust is an excellent demonstration of what happens when you are intelligent but receive no pleasure, Faust is willing to sacrifice everything for a life more like the pigs. If anything its a case of moderation, art and science can richly enhance your life or they can make it worse.