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Happiness and Rationality.

Imagine that you have to undergo some operation that would leave you perfectly healthy, but without your ability to reason. As part of this operation, you'd still be able to feel pleasure but not pain, either emotionally or physically. You'd end up with the basic awareness of some sort of lower animal in exchange for a life of gratuitous pleasure.

According to the position of Hedonism, what ultimately makes one happy is what is right to do. Consequently, the operation explains the most perfect form of hedonism: pure happiness, with no worry, no stress, nor emotional anguish.

(A) Would you undergo such an operation? Why or why not?

(B) Explain how your answer in (A) differs (if at all) from what Aristotle says about a fulfilled life.

(C) Explain what your answer in (A) reveals to you about the role of rationality within the larger context of human life.

Solution Preview

A. Before dealing with your first question I would like to reflect on some themes with you. Such as: Can pain have an ultimate significance? Can one understand happiness without the capacity of reasoning? What is the difference between the views of Hedonism and that of Aristotle to the effect of happiness? The answers to these questions will automatically answer your questions.
Every normal human being desires to live a happy and healthy life and that is exactly why we want to be cured when we are sick. Happiness is a state of well-being and satisfaction in the person who is feeling happy. It is a basic feeling of joy and gratification that results from the achievements in one's life. Facing life with reality i.e. trying to find meaning in life and in everything we do, striving for success, for achievements, being honest and obeying religious, moral and civil laws are things that give meaning to life and bring happiness. These things add values to our lives; only that most times they are not done without undergoing moments of pain, moments of difficulty and moments of growth. Sometimes it is necessary to undergo pains in order to survive e.g. I once had to undergo a very painful cyst surgery in order to be well again, just like a tree that needs to be pruned and trimmed in order to grow fitter. "Happiness is like those palaces in fairy tales whose gates are guarded by dragons: we must fight in order to conquer it" (Alexandre Dumas). Pleasures are not always good, sometimes they produce only pain e.g. sexual abuse, revenge, drugs etc. These actions might give pleasure and satisfaction to those who practice them, but in the long run they generate destruction. Consequently, pleasure can be considered as a source of happiness only when it leads to true happiness, does no harm and promotes human values.
Hedonism strives for pleasure ...

Solution Summary

This solution intends to answer the following questions: Can pain have an ultimate significance? Can one understand happiness and enjoy happiness without the capacity of reasoning? What is the difference between the views of Hedonism and that of Aristotle to the effect of happiness? If happiness were the ultimate goal of life, what is the meaning of undergoing a surgery that will leave me without the ability to reason? Why compromise my capacity of reasoning that literally distinguishes me from ordinary animals? What is the meaning of feeling pleasure or pain without understanding the feeling?
Every normal human being desires to live a happy and healthy life and that is exactly why we want to be cured when we are sick. Happiness is a state of well-being and satisfaction in the person who is feeling happy. It is a basic feeling of joy and gratification that results from the achievements in one's life. Facing life with reality i.e. trying to find meaning in life and in everything we do, striving for success, for achievements, being honest and obeying religious, moral and civil laws are things that give meaning to life and bring happiness. These things add values to our lives; only that most times they are not done without undergoing moments of pain, moments of difficulty and moments of growth. Sometimes it is necessary to undergo pains in order to survive.

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