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Happiness or Health

  1. Jan 7, 2005 #1
    I think it is better to be healthy, in body, mind, and spirit, than to be happy. Degenerate happiness--like from drugs--is worthless. Happiness is only valuable for two things: it helps people be healthy (unhappy people suffer health problems), and it is a (sometimes unreliable) indicator of health. It has no intrinsic value.
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  3. Jan 7, 2005 #2


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    Why does health have intrinsic value?

    I disagree with your post. I'd say it is the other way around. I believe happiness, and lack of suffering are the only things of intrinsic value. Health only has value in that it lessens suffering and increases happiness.
  4. Jan 7, 2005 #3
    Being drugged out for the rest of your life is repulsive and undesirable even if it means you will be happy.
  5. Jan 7, 2005 #4
    I'd be inclined to believe that abstaining from drugs would wrought more happiness than consumption, since the mind can rationalize to make abstinence create happiness through knowledge and self-made limitations; however, from an overall perspective, I would value happiness over health. Health is upkept in order to live a longer and healthier life, but health is sustained to achieve more happiness; therefore, I believe happiness is most important, and health is a way of achieving it.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2005
  6. Jan 7, 2005 #5
    A hypothetical being which did not use the human happiness/pain circuits but instead used something else would find no meaning whatsoever in happiness, but if he were to be successful at _anything_ he would have to have health. Health is much more universal than happiness.
  7. Jan 7, 2005 #6
    Emotion is what makes life worthwhile or worthless;furthermore, in your instance, I would say a robot would fit your description. Logically a machine's condition is most essential to it being successful.
  8. Jan 7, 2005 #7
    I didn't say _no_ emotion, simply not the human feelings of happiness or pain.

    Any being's condition is "most essential to it being successful." Health is basically a degree of effectiveness--how well does something perform the functions it should perform? Unhealthiness is dysfunctionality.
  9. Jan 7, 2005 #8
    True, but if we take drugs, we are taking the worse statistical end of the straw. We are more likely to get more unhappiness from drugs (and Evilness as well) than we would if we just stayed off drugs and found some other fun things to do.
    When we talk about happiness we really are talking about a thing that is GENERALLY Good. So, we have to find what is Good in the long run, go with it and experience the happiness that those Good things bring us.

    ----- nwO ruoY evaH ,deeN oN <----?eeS I tahW eeS uoY oD
  10. Jan 7, 2005 #9
    health Audio pronunciation of "health" ( P ) Pronunciation Key (hlth)

    1. The overall condition of an organism at a given time.
    2. Soundness, especially of body or mind; freedom from disease or abnormality.
    3. A condition of optimal well-being: concerned about the ecological health of the area.
    4. A wish for someone's good health, often expressed as a toast.

    Dictionary.com's definition. I would say Bartholomew is pretty precise on his definition, and it is in concord with the definition provided by the dicitonary.

    To have better health is to live longer or perform better in a mental sense, and performing well mentally and living longer are related to survival which relates this idea to natural performance, I agree with Bartholomew.

    ----- nwO ruoY evaH ,deeN oN <----?eeS I tahW eeS uoY oD
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2005
  11. Jan 7, 2005 #10
    The question is, if you had the opportunity to be drugged into bliss for eighty years in some special experiment, all of your needs taken care of, should you take it? I say, no, because it would be unhealthy; even if it does not damage your capabilities it is dysfunctional, and prevents you from using those capabilities.
  12. Jan 7, 2005 #11


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    But so what if it is unhealthy and dysfunctional?

    Also, if happiness isn't the goal for a person or the human species the what is the goal?

    If there is no goal, then there is no "should" or "should not".
  13. Jan 7, 2005 #12


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    There is a reason that happiness exists, evolutionarily speaking, and it isn't to promote happiness. It is to promote habits that lead to better evolutionary fitness. If we use your line of reasoning, we can conclude that evolutionary fitness is the best correlate of moral worth.
  14. Jan 7, 2005 #13


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    Yes, that may be how happiness came to exist. To say the "purpose" of happiness is to promote evolutionary fitness, is to give nature a mind and a goal which we have no reason to believe unless you bring in a god. Evolution simply is... there is no purpose there, any more than the purpose of objects of mass is to attract each other.

    I'm not sure I understand this.
  15. Jan 7, 2005 #14


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    Of course, but there is no more purpose in happiness. It exists only to promote evolutionary fitness, not because of any intrinsic worth. Happiness only has worth because people give it worth. If someone places more value on health than happiness, so be it. You can't argue him out of it.

    I could be wrong about your argument. It seems to me, however, that you are arguing along these lines:

    The end goal of every human action is to maximize happiness.
    Therefore, only happiness has intrinsic worth.

    I'm suggesting that happiness is not the end goal of every human action, that happiness only serves to promote evolutionary fitness. We can then amend your argument to say:

    Evolutionary fitness if the end goal of every human action.
    Therefore, only evolutionary fitness has intrinsic worth.
  16. Jan 7, 2005 #15


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    That's true, I can't argue him out of it. However, where does this lead... It leads to an end to a discussion about morality... Any person places value on anything arbitrarily... There's no "should" anymore.

    No, I'm saying the end goal of every human action SHOULD be to maximize happiness.

    I've not made an argument as to why only happiness has intrinsic worth. There's no proof I can give. But it seems like beings "feeling good" is a good thing, and beings "feeling bad" is a bad thing. Beyond this I can't give any proof.

    Yes evolutionary fitness may be the result of every action whether we like it or not, but I don't see why that would mean evolutionary fitness has intrinsic worth. I don't think there's a way to prove intrinsic worth.
  17. Jan 7, 2005 #16
    I am not talking about purpose solely in the context of human beings, so I would not advocate evolutionary fitness as the goal. How would you define "evolutionary fitness" anyway? Number of offspring? Species longevity?

    I mean health in every sort--human health, but also economic health, health of a computer system, etc. are what I am talking about. The vitality of systems is the source of all meaning; this is why I say it is the purpose. I'm not just arbitrarily elevating one characteristic above others; health is the fundamental.
  18. Jan 8, 2005 #17


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    So. I was only stating that evolutionary fitness is the end goal of living systems to reduce learningphysics argument that only happiness has intrinsic worth to an absurdity. I wasn't even commenting on your argument regarding health.

    Although, if you insist, I can. You say that the vitality of all systems is the source of all meaning, but what is meaning? Only an intelligent being capable of subjective experience can even have a concept of meaning, at least as far as I can tell. The health of an economic system is of no consequence to the economic system. It is only important that the system function in a healthy way because that's what humans want it to do. There is no objective reason for this. The only thing fundamental is human want, but even that is not always consistent from human to human.

    Not to say that health isn't important, but I have trouble seeing this as any kind of meaningful ethical argument, which is what you seem to be attempting to make by saying that health is "better" than "happiness." Unless you specify that health is better for the purpose of attaining some particular goal, "better" just sounds to me like you are saying that health has more moral worth. You state that health itself is the end-goal of all systems, but I don't think that is the case. In the case of the health of a living system, the end goal is to remain healthy long enough to reproduce, hence evolutionary fitness. In the case of non-living systems, health is important because it serves the purposes of the living systems that created the non-living systems. In the case of non-living systems that were not created by living system, such as, say, the solar system, health does not matter at all. The solar system could hardly care whether it functioned or not. It doesn't have the goal of being healthy; it is simply healthy because that's the way it is.
  19. Jan 9, 2005 #18
    Well, there is the question of what qualifies as evolutionarily "fit" (numbers or species longevity) and whether there is any goal involved. That which has a tendency to survive and propogate, survives and propogates; that which has a tendency to die and wane, dies and wanes. Why favor one path over the other?

    I think I'm not going to go into the intellectual reasons to favor health over anything else. I believe it is an intuitive truth that when things are churning along free from junk or inefficiency there is an attractive power about it. It is better to be vital; by definition it is a higher state, maintaining the functional essentials of the unhealthy but making it all work better. Call it fulfillment. When a system does what it can do in an efficient, effective way, it is fulfilled. Its purpose is inherent in its form.
  20. Jan 9, 2005 #19


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    There is no purposeful reason to favor one path over the other. The only reason the path that produces more life is evolutionarily "better" is because it produces things that evolve. Dead things do not.

    The "attractive power" of health is just another evolutionary device. Health is attractive to you, so you pursue health. The pursuit of health helps you to survive long enough to reproduce. Therefore, genes or learned behaviors or any other factor that causes a living organism to pursue good health tend to proliferate in higher proportions than factors that cause the reverse. This includes the innate (genetically hard-wired) attraction of your mind to good health.
  21. Jan 9, 2005 #20
    I am not talking solely about human health. The attractive power of which I speak can be seen in any healthy system.

    "purpose inherent in its form" is the idea. A physical form contains a characteristic nature. To achieve purpose, purify the form and realize the nature. The nature of man is to think and move. Man's nature should be enabled and realized.

    I am thinking of a children's story I read about a woodcarver. He could see forms inherent in pieces of wood. One piece of wood might make him think of a spoon, another might make him think of a bowl, and he would bring each form out by carving. This is the process.
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