Unfortunately, there are no instructions for finding, discovering and methods of obtaining happiness with the accompanying plan of the area. How do you try to get true satisfaction in life? Natural, acquired and correct desires.
This article is about what the right desire is and what is the highest good for a person. Follow with us the beautiful and harmonious logic of the philosophical reasoning of Mortimer Adler from his new book "Six Great Ideas" on the topic of happiness and satisfaction. You will learn why happiness is not attainable and from which you can get absolute true satisfaction.
Real and imaginary goods
It is necessary to distinguish between real and apparent goods. Socrates has repeatedly reminded that the good that we consider as such, because we really want it, does not become a real good from this. It can turn - and it often does - into its complete opposite. What seems good to us at the time we desire it may turn out to be bad for us after a while.
On the one hand, there are desires inherent in our human nature, arising from internal needs and leading to their satisfaction. These are natural desires given to us from birth. Since they originate in human nature itself, they are common to all human beings, as well as facial features, skeletal structure or blood type. But not only all people have them as properties inherent in human nature - they always manifest themselves in a person's striving for satisfaction, regardless of whether we are aware of them or not.
For natural desires, you can use the word need.
On the other hand, there are desires that each person acquires in the process of life, each of them is the result of personal experience and is due to the individual uniqueness of the character and circumstances of life. Consequently, unlike natural desires, which are the same for all people, acquired desires are exclusively individual, since each person has only his own temperament, experience and life circumstances. In addition, unlike natural desires, which may or may not be conscious, we always sensibly understand when acquired desires force us to do one way or another.
For acquired desires, you can use the word want.
What is the right desire? Apparently, this is the desire for what should be wanted. But, according to Socrates, we never want what at this moment does not seem good to us. We cannot be mistaken about our own desires. The man is right in saying that he wants something. However, in matters of their own needs, it is human to make mistakes. Children often think or say they need something when they should have said they want it. Adults make the same mistake.
What is the real good that satisfies the natural desires and needs of a person?
Benefits can be divided into several categories:
which we want to have;
what we want to do;
that improve our being.
1. The benefits of owning
These are property and dignity, as well as the goods that we choose and that we receive at random.
Wealth is property and health is dignity. Both that and another, to some extent, we get by chance. In addition to wealth, the category of property includes friends or loved ones, as well as all external circumstances that affect a person's life and are conditioned by the structure of the society of which he is a part.
Merits, unlike property, are intrinsic goods. They do not exist apart from man. In this context, the word dignity is used in a narrow sense and denotes a good that satisfies the aspirations or capabilities of a person, that is, his ability to develop in a particular area: health, sensual and aesthetic pleasures, as well as any forms of knowledge and skills.
2. The benefits of action
They include activities that benefit us, as they allow us to acquire the necessary property or internal dignity. Such actions can also benefit someone else, that is, bring benefit to this person, or at least save him from harm. If a person's actions affect the well-being of others, we usually classify them as right or wrong (just or unfair).
3. The blessings of being
They stem from the desire to be a good person. In this case, a good person is one who has managed to develop certain virtues and realize his human potential. The main such advantage is the ability to desire what is needed, and also not to have desires that prevent a person from receiving the benefits necessary for leading a decent life. desire only what is really necessary and get rid of unworthy desires. However, being a good person does not in itself mean achieving a good life.
A good human life is an unconditional good, and the rest of the good are the means of achieving it. Nevertheless, the good life is not at the highest level of the hierarchy of goods.
Mouse and pearl
Augustine the Blessed, speaking of the hierarchy of the blessings of being, cites the example of a mouse and a pearl.
Which one would you like to have?
Which one would you rather be?
In the first case, the pearl, in the second, the mouse, right? A living organism has its own being, the potential for development, the ability to act - all that the soulless but dear pearl lacks.
The highest good
The highest good is happiness. Many people perceive the concept of "happiness" as an end goal, and not a stage on the way to something greater. The phrase "I want to be happy because …" cannot be finished with any other words except "… I want to be happy." For any other human desire, you can say: "I want this because it will make me happy."
Happiness can be defined as the accumulation of real and necessary benefits for each person during life. In addition, a happy life is filled with imaginary benefits, which are objects of a person's desire, depending on his tastes and preferences.
Happiness, being the highest good and the highest goal, cannot be fully experienced at any one moment in life. It is impossible to feel and enjoy a series of well-lived years at once.
We can evaluate the entire human life as a whole only after some time has passed after its end. This is not to say that the entire fullness of an individual's life exists in any of the moments or periods. When we strive for happiness as the highest good, we set ourselves an unattainable goal and subsequently can never enjoy the results of such striving.
There are two ways to be happier:
contemplate the beauty.
The happiness of cognition
According to Aristotle, man by nature wants to have knowledge. Since the acquired desire to know is correct, because it consists in striving for what everyone needs.
Kant helps us understand the sensory kind of cognition that we use to understand beauty - contemplation.
Contemplation of beauty
Food and water, health and wealth, and most of what we want or need are enjoyable when we have them. It is the possession, use and consumption of them that give a feeling of joy. They give pleasure when we satisfy our desire to possess them, and not just look at them.
But there are such objects of desire that we cannot or do not want to acquire, take possession of them, use, consume or in any other way include in our life. It is enough for us to simply contemplate or dream to see.
This is how a person likes a natural landscape or a painting in a gallery - without any practical interest in acquiring real estate or a piece of art that is a joy to own.
Beautiful is what gives pleasure after we have comprehended it, or … that gives pleasure when we perceive it with our mind, or … that gives pleasure when we perceive it with our senses.
This is pure pleasure. We simply receive it from contemplation or perception of an object. And you don't need to add anything else to your experience to call an object beautiful.
The satisfaction from contemplation is the pleasure of the viewer, which lifts us above the bustle of purposeful and selfish actions that fill our life. We can say that it leads to a special kind of ecstasy and elevates us above everyday life.
Contemplation of objects that give us pure and spiritual satisfaction also brings elements of relaxation to our lives. Pleasant beauty becomes an integral component of happiness and a good life. The most we can do in this direction is to give ourselves the opportunity to meet beauty by visiting certain places and learning art, harmonious concepts and innovative ideas.
Happiness to you!
Based on the book "Six Great Ideas" by Mortimer Adler.