Free «Philosophy of Happiness» Essay Sample

To begin with, the philosophy of happiness is a subject that is aimed at bringing happiness as an integral part of life which makes it to be more positive as well as pleasant. There are factors that lead to one being termed as happy or sorrowful. Following this point, there comes in the hedonistic psychology that deals with what makes experiences and life either pleasant or objectionable (Kahneman, Diener & Schwarz 2003, p.4). So to speak, it explores the feelings of pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow and satisfaction and displeasure. According to Kahneman, Diener & Schwarz (2003, p.5), people predictably choose to experience less pleasure and more pain. In order to bring into view the validity of this statement, it is important to explore what made Kahneman to come to this conclusion.

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In this regard, the question of whether this is right or not will be addressed along with the actuality of whether people are usually irrational. From this point of view, happiness or sorrow or in simple terms pleasure or pain can be well described by applying the issue of utility. In this connection, there is an instant utility, the experienced utility and decision utility. A decision utility is revealed through choice while experience utility is measured by means of psychophysical method. Utility is the pleasure or the pain that we often experience. At this point, it is important to point out that decision utility happens like in an instant whereby a smoker decides to take a cigarette. This is his preference or rather the choice he makes. On the other hand, failing to take a cigarette would be the better option, yet they decide to buy it anyway. Following this point, a smoker can be viewed as somebody who is irrational and annoying in the sense that he knows the effect of taking cigarette from experience or rather from the total utility the cigarette brings, yet he decided to buy and smoke based on decision utility on the grounds of moment approach.

At this instant, one can point out to the difference that exists between the experienced utility and the decision utility. Decision utility is arrived at when a person has to make a choice that would bring more pleasure and less pain. This is to mean, making of the decision will only be based on the instant utilities rather than the sum total utility integrated over a long period of time. Experienced utility is the one that is based on the end rule approach in the sense that the pleasure that is realized is due to an integrated sum total of the instant utilities experienced (Kahneman, Diener, & Schwarz 2003). Due to this fact, human beings tend to apply the instant utility that serves to reflect the pain or pleasure at an instant or moment. Generally, pleasure and pain are momentary events or instant moments that occur in ones life. In this combination, ones happiness is for a moment or it is an instant event.

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Therefore, the integration of these moments into total utility is the only means through which one can establish a moment of pleasure. In his book, Kahneman provides that duration is an important factor worth of consideration if one is to establish the states that will bring happiness to his or her life. This is evidenced by the experiment whereby two hands were placed in cold water at fourteen degrees Celsius for sixty seconds. After the sixty seconds, one hand was removed and the second hand was left for more thirty seconds with the water being gradually warmed up to fifteen Celsius (Kahneman, Diener & Schwarz 2003, p.20). In this case, when the subjects were asked the experience preferred, they went for the longer experience with a better end that the shorter one. By closely examining what influenced the choices of the subjects was the irrational predictability that always leads people to more pain that anticipated. According to this episode, Kahneman is justified to conclude that people predictably choose to experience less pleasure and more pain. This is for the reason that people tend to ignore the part played by remembering. In other words, people misremember utility and end up experiencing more pain and less pleasure.

 There are a great number of mistakes or rather pain that has its main causal agent as irrationality. The irrationality in predictability affects the things that people choose and predict. The main reason of the irrationality in predictability or in forecasting on what may happen in the future is as a result of misremembering utility. So to speak, people will tend to make decisions based on a few statistics of events as well as instant experiences. From this point of view, if one is faced by a circumstance, he or she will tend to judge or answer the circumstance based on the current or the present states which in most cases is a temporal integration of the utility.

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Basically, the temporal integration of the states is presented with shortcomings that are brought about by uncalculated analyses of the past events and experiences as well as memories. It is important for one to take into account the past experiences and memories in order to well predict more of pleasure in the future and less of pain. Nonetheless, this has not been achieved as individual’s judgement on experiences of pleasure or happiness are based on the temporal integration rather than on the basis of total utility based on experienced utility. As such, one will predict a future experience of pleasure irrationally and as a consequence, people are in most cases irrational (Kahneman, Diener & Schwarz, 2003).

 Subsequently, decisions that are made happen to be irrational. Hence, they translate to more pain and less pleasure as the predicaments was irrational ignoring the importance or the part played by memories and the past events accumulated over a long time. Since happiness or pleasure should be viewed from memory approach rather than moment approach, it is therefore a bad practice to predict future feelings of pleasure or pain while systematically misremembering the past feelings. Again, total utility should be remembered from paste events but in this case, it is remembered from a summary statistics and selected moments.

 Following this case, the peak and the end is remembered while underestimating the duration. In this relation, there appears to be a misremembering of utility which lead one to decisions that are based on this erroneous memory. Due to this, future predictabilities appear to assume an irrational form or rather illogical form in the sense that the decisions that many individuals make are predictably irrational leading to more pain and less pleasure than anticipated. In order to make sound future predictions, a well calculated incorporation of the past events, experiences and feelings should be taken into account. Accordingly, the remembering utility should be taken care of along with making of the experience utility a prerequisite to a rational way of making judgements and decisions.

Pointing out on the conclusion that people predictably choose to experience less pleasure and more pain, Kahneman is right and so to speak, people are irrational in this case. This is because if people are bad at recalling or rather remembering their feelings, they shall be equally poor in predicting them. This is to suggest that due to the reality that people misremember utility, they will always make a mistake in predicting what their future feelings would be (Kahneman, Diener, & Schwarz 2003). Thus, if people are unable to remember their good feelings or their happiness, this will translate to them being poor in predicting them. Consequently, they will be viewed as illogical just as for smokers who make decision to take cigarette but on the other side they would better not have it due to experienced utility. They end up experiencing more pain and less pleasure by making the decisions based on moment approach rather than memory approach.

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