Rafed English

Non-Muslim and non-Iranian philosophers - Part IV

Spinoza interpreted joy as what follows that passion, the passion by which the mind passes to a greater perfection, and by sadness, that passion by which it passes to a lesser perfection. The effect of joy, which is related to the mind and body at once, he called pleasure or cheerfulness, and that of sadness he called pain or melancholy.

Spinoza believed that virtue itself and the service of God are happiness itself and the greatest virtue (Curley, 1996).

According to Spinoza; since we cannot control the objects that we tend to value and that we allow to influence our well-being, we ought, instead, to try to control our evaluations themselves and thereby minimize the sway that external objects and the passions have over us. We can never eliminate the passive effects entirely. We are essentially a part of nature, and can never fully remove ourselves from the causal series that link us to external things. But we can, ultimately, counteract the passions, control them, and achieve a certain degree of relief from their control. The path to restraining and moderating the effects is followed through virtue. All beings naturally seek their own advantage - to preserve their own being - and it is right for them to do so.

This is what virtue consists in. Since we are thinking beings, endowed with intelligence and reason, so that which is to our greatest advantage is knowledge. Our virtue, therefore, consists in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of adequate ideas. But ultimately, we strive for knowledge of God. Spinoza believes that we do not have an absolute power to adapt things outside us to our use.

Nevertheless, we shall bear calmly those things that happen to us contrary to what the principle of our advantage demands, if we are conscious that we have done our duty, that the power we have could not have extended itself to the point where we could have avoided those things and that we are a part of the whole of nature, whose order we follow. If we understand this clearly and distinctly, that part of us which is defined by understanding, that is the better part of us, will be entirely satisfied with this, and will strive to be preserved in that satisfaction. For insofar as we understand, we can intend nothing except what is necessary, nor absolutely by being satisfied with anything except what is true. (IV, Appendix).

The fact that love is without want makes it all the stronger, all the lighter, and, as Spinoza would have said, all the more active (Ethics, p. 58 and p. 59, with dem. and school. Also V, p. 40). This lightness has a name, and that name is joy. It has proof, as well, and that proof is the happiness of lovers; I love you. I am joyful that you exist.

There cannot be any happiness without love. If love is a joy accompanied by the idea of an external cause, if all love therefore is in its essence joyful, the converse is also true: all joy has a cause (as dose everything that exists) and therefore all joy is loving. Love is transparent joy, its light, its known and acknowledged truth. This is Spinoza's secret and the secret of wisdom and happiness: love exists only as joy and there is no joy other than love (Comte- Sponvil, 2003).

Spinoza argues that the mind's intellectual love of God is our understanding of the universe, our virtue, our happiness, our well-being and our "salvation". Spinoza's "free person" is one who bears the gifts and loses of fortune with equanimity, does only those things that he believes to be "the most important in life", takes care of the well-being of others, and is not anxious about death (Nadler, 2005). In brief, Spinoza thinks that one pursues the good because of the benefit it brings to oneself (Miller, 2005).

Spinoza believes that if we fall in love with the fleeting things and those things not all humans can acquire an equal amount of them, we will engage in jealous, fear and rancor. Falling in love with eternal things makes man's spirit and soul happy and makes them free from all kinds of grief. Spinoza also believed that it would be harmful if man wants wealth, money, power and physical pleasures for themselves, whereas man should consider them as a tool and instrument.

Spinoza said that happiness is not something that man waits for reaching it in the other world, but he should seek and reach it in this world.

Spinoza believed that the highest happiness is the identification of that unity that joins man's spirit with the total nature, and utilizing of this identification along with other humans. The highest happiness is acquired whenever philosophical insight exists in imagination of that thing which is eternal (Yaspers, 1996).

Rousseau says that if man wishes to be happy, he should apply his free will to the extent of his ability. He believes that the happiness of others will increase our happiness. It is not for a personal profit that all people help the general happiness, because there are some individuals that prefer to be slain in the way of their religions or countries. These people are looking for a spiritual happiness that they offer good sacrifices for the sake of obtaining it (Rousseau, 2001).

Rousseau introduces patience, endurance, surrender, consent and perfect justice as the only properties that man will take with him from this world, because it is by these that humans can perfect and complete themselves day by day without suffering from the least fear from death to reach themselves to the peak of perfection and happiness (Alavi, 2005).

Rousseau says that it is up to us to make the others participate in our pleasures if we want to have more rates of pleasure. If man is accustomed to judge everything only from his own point of view, he will surely justify mistakenly the worst actions. That is the reason why God is a necessary fact for the world. God's grace to us is reinforced by the moral effort we make. This is a worthy of praise effort, because our soul and spirit is captive of senses and body, and cutting this chain is very difficult. Spiritual pleasure is obtained whenever man becomes successful in such an effort. On the other hand, Rousseau believes that we should formulate human inclinations according to man's spiritual and physical circumstances if we want to do the best thing for man's happiness. Rousseau says that if man wants to experience abundant and great virtues, he should also experience pains and hardships, that this fact is in consistent with man's nature (Claydon, quoted from Alavi, 2005).

A baby should become familiar with the small sorrows if lie wants to understand the great bounties and happiness. The baby nurtured in affluence and easy life will never enjoy kindness, cooperation and happiness (Rousseau. 2001). If the body is in too security, the spirit will be corrupted.

In Rousseau's society, people are less and less likely to value their own thoughts and so less likely to achieve happiness.

Kant says that each person enacts laws for his happiness according to his understanding, imagination and senses powers, but a confirmable happiness is along with "deserving". An action is correct practically provided that action maximizes the humans' happiness, and an action is correct intellectually provided that one's intention is maximizing the humans' happiness.

From the viewpoint of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), happiness is the natural reward for virtuous behavior; therefore, behaving morally should lead to happiness.

However, this appears never actually to happen. There must, therefore, be something else that leads people to behave morally. The achievement of the highest Good in the world is the necessary object of a will determined by the moral law which commands us to make the highest possible good in a world the final object of all our conduct, and there must, therefore, be a reward for moral behavior in the next world. Because happiness clearly does not come about in this life for the majority, there must be a life beyond death in which the reward comes (Dowar, 2002).

Happiness is associated especially with the classical utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. The utilitarianism assert that happiness is, as a matter of fact, the ultimate aim at which all human actions are directed and that it is therefore the ultimate standard by which all human actions are directed and that it is therefore the ultimate standard by which to judge the rightness or wrongness of actions. 'Actions are right', says Mill. 'in proportion as they tend to promote happiness'- that is to say, 'the general happiness,' the happiness of ail concerned. For Bentham the identity of 'happiness' and 'pleasure' is quite straightforward. An action's tendency to promote happiness is determined simply by adding up the amounts of pain, which it will produce. It is a matter solely of quantitative factors such as the intensity and duration of the pleasurable and painful feelings (Handerich, 2005).

Following Bentham, John Stuart Mill goes on to equate happiness with 'pleasure and absence of pain'. Mill acknowledges that happiness depends not only on the quantity but also on the quality of pleasures. Human beings, because of the distinctively human capacities they possess, require more to make them happy than the accumulation of pleasurable sensations. They are made happy not by lower pleasures' but by the 'higher pleasures'; 'the pleasures of intellect, of the feelings and imagination, and of the more sentiments. Mill departs still further from the purely quantitative notion of happiness when he recognizes that it is not just a sum of unrelated experiences but an ordered whole. To say that human beings aim at happiness is not to deny that they pursue more specific goals such as knowledge or artistic and cultural activity or moral goodness, and that they pursue these things for their own sake. These are some of the 'ingredients' which go to make up a life of happiness (Handerich, 2005).

Hegel believes that humans should seek for the general and total pleasure which is not obtained through the satisfying of the partial motives. Hegel considers this total pleasure and satisfaction as happiness. Human beings in the highest position of their perfection incline to happiness and this inclination is impersonal. This natural and innate inclination is free from corruption.

Schopenhauer said that life is full of pains and grief, the more we try to enjoy it, the more we will become its slaves and captives (De Batton, 1969).

Nietzsche believed that any worthwhile achievement in life come from the experience of the overcoming of hardship.

He believed that those who want to be satisfied should welcome every hardship in the life.

He wished grief, sorrow and illness for the ones whom he loved. He was looking for happiness but he was of the opinion that one could not achieve happiness without pains and hardship. He believed that if you want to utilize the maximum of pleasure, you should surely taste the maximum of displeasure (De Batton, 1969).

Adapted from the book: "Foundations of Happiness"

Share this article

Comments 0

Your comment

Comment description

Latest Post

Most Reviews