Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘John Stuart Mill

 

Small men crowding States of tyranny

John Stuart Mill wrote in the 18th century:

“A Sate which dwarfs its men in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands, even for beneficial purposes, will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished”

The Liberty principle means free expression, not only in speech and press, but mainly in life-style.

There is no reason to believe in a “one fit” lifestyle: Experiments in living should be the prerogative of adult citizens.

Ignorance may be bliss.

Not being challenged give us the false sense of bliss.

The main criteria for Liberty rights in political system is: Which political system permit an individual to flourish and develop his potentials.

The people should campaign and act against the “dumbed down” screaming headlines that repeat the same misleading arguments that a system own through its various institutions.

An orchestra conductor State system forces its citizens to sing from the same hymn sheet, instead of allowing the various communities and minorities to play as they wish.

Does a neutral State foregoes a common set of social values?

At least tolerance of other belief systems is prime among the common values.

If laws in other countries are horrendous to our set of values system, it is not permitted to shrug off our shoulder and say “It’s all relative”

Practicing tolerance involves our determination to spread the value of tolerance to other communities.

Even though claims are open to interpretations, claims that toleration of a belief system that we feel is wrong should be only interpreted as if “our own way is wrong”.

There is a difference between interpreting a claim and justifying it: Justifying anything is the phase of taking actions against tolerance.

Is there any difference between tolerant attitudes and the concept that morality is relative in society?

The fact is we are inclined to tolerate once we objectively admit that there is a set of moral values that are Not meant to be relative.

Bridging the gap between generation in tolerating life styles is not readily feasible.

Bridging gaps within a generation in life styles is feasible but requires time, patience and plenty of communication.

Learning to practice tolerance is the hardest of training: We are very deficient in communicating our opinions and values tangibly and pragmatically.

Happiness is a modern concept? What the ancient philosophers were talking about…?

In 1794, the young and radical French revolutionary Saint-Just proclaimed at the Convention: “Happiness is a new idea in Europe“.  Saint-Just was a learned man and must have read the documents and discussions of the leaders of the American Revolution and the concept that happiness is a natural right for every citizen. Was this idea of happiness similar to the one understood in Europe?

After the French Revolution, there were ideas thrown around that all citizens were entitled to eat properly, enjoy health, free time for leisure, appropriate retirement conditions…

What substituted happiness in Europe before the French Revolution?

Before the revolution, the little people were invisible and were of no concern to the nobility in these absolute monarchies, except when famine hits and the power feels the heat…

The ancient philosophers and the succeeding thinkers viewed happiness as “a way of living”, guided by virtue and reason, in relative indifference to material possession and worldly successes. It was out of the question that idiots can be considered to be happy…

It was not conceivable to claim happiness if you believed that it could have an end: Happiness was a concept directly linked to a faith in eternity and immortality.

Happiness was irreducibly an elitist acquisition, reserved for those who had the mental and material means to become wise and leisurely contemplate nature and the living people…

What could be the meaning and value of Happiness in modern time?

The “utilitarian” vision of happiness (Jeremy Bentham) proclaimed that happiness is in essence the absence of pains and aches, and the satisfaction of individual preferences can come in any order…The goal of  the activities of individuals is the greater happiness possible within the greater number of mankind “the common good”.

This “democratization” of happiness, at the reach of the little people, was denuded of its sacred meanings, detached of its religious connotations, not opposite to ephemeral and artificial pleasures…

Like what kinds of modern pleasures?

Smoking marijuana, taking cocaine, morphine, hallucinogenic products, Prozac…watching action movies, scary movies, science fiction movies…all kinds of musics, concerts, all kinds of variety of food, visiting remote regions, seeing new cultures and civilization…wearing variety of clothes…engaging in a variety of physical activities and sports…

The German philosopher Kant tried to demonstrate that happiness bears No Moral meaning. For example, there are so many objective desires that people aspire to, such as wealth, glory, power…Can we agree that these “values” are at best controversial and not evident to the little people? So many exploiters and tyrants have been swimming in happiness

How happiness was characterized before the French revolution?

1. Epicure (341-270 BC) taught in his Garden to oppose the rigor of stoicism, and to converge toward a moral of moderation “Let’s not jump into any kinds of pleasure…There is no agreeable living without a hefty dose of prudence, honesty and justice…”

2. Seneca (4 BC-65) The individual should be capable of combining reason and character in order to find pleasure from his physical faculties “I am after happiness of man and not of his stomach…”

3. Leibniz (1646-1716): “Evil exists. Considering Creation as a whole, God did his best…The grain suffer in the soil before bearing fruits…Our suffering lead the way to the good, to the greater perfection…”

4. Spinoza (1632-1677): “The essence of mankind is the desire to be happy, to live good, and to act good…The only access to happiness is to know what determine our passions in the natural order of the universe…”

And what are the visions of happiness after 1789?

5. John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). All the pleasures are Not of equal values. It is better to be an unhappy Socrates rather than a happy imbecile. Individual happiness is not complete if the common good is forgotten and neglected…

6. Nietzsche (1844-1900): “Who cannot learn to take a break to forget the past, to enjoy the moment, will never appreciate happiness, and will never learn how render others happy…There is a level of insomnia, of rumination, and of historical meaning that ruin the living person and annihilate his happiness…”

7. Georges Bataille (1897-1962): “If happiness is a reaction to the call of desire, and if desire is a caprice incarnate…then happiness is the sole moral value…”

8. Michel Foucault (1926-1962): “Abstinence that leads to individual sovereignty is happiness without desire and without trouble…”

Many modern critiques and thinkers made it a business (publishing books of how to be happy…) to fall back into the archaic version of “learning to be happy…” Kind of  “if we know how to enjoy life in the cheapest way possible…” happiness can be in the reach of everyone…(except those dying of famine and of common diseases…?)

All that talks of ancient and modern ideas of happiness have no sense if not described and explained within the proper context of the period and culture. For example:

1. How an individual with a life expectancy of no more than 30 years can conceive of happiness?

2. How an individual living in the harshest conditions to survive may experience happiness?

3. How the European under absolute monarchies and with a life expectancy not surpassing 40 years could comprehend the idea of happiness?

4. How all those cow-boys of the Far West experienced the meaning of happiness?

5. Was happiness the same before, during and after the Chinese revolution?

6. Was happiness experienced in the same quality before, during and after the British dominion of India?

7. Has happiness the same meaning and value before and after the “Industrial Age“?

8. Has happiness the same meaning and value during this instant communication and traveling facilities?

9. Don’t you think as life expectancy reaches 80 years that happiness requires extensive planing and preparation as we hit retirement age? What can you do without talent after 60?  How can you be happy if your eye sight goes and your hearing capacity dwindle?

The next article intends to describe the feasibility of experiencing “happiness” within the proper context…

Note: Post inspired from a study by Ruwen Ogien in the French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur #2490


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

December 2020
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