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Philosophical Foundations of Happiness

By: Hamid Reza Alavi
It appears that we can hardly find any philosophers who have not spoken of happiness. It indicates the close relationship between philosophy and happiness. Some of philosophers have written much about happiness, and some less. Investigating the details of their theories regarding happiness is impossible here, especially considering the fact that the main purpose of this book has been description of the correlatives of happiness and those factors (religious, philosophical and psychological) that cause humans to reach happiness.
We have divided here the philosophers’ viewpoints concerning happiness into two categories: non-Muslim and non-Iranian philosophers & Muslim and Iranian philosophers.

Non-Muslim and Non–Iranian Philosophers
Philosophical discussion of the concept of ‘happiness’ has tended to be found mainly within moral philosophy. It is associated especially with the classical utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. The utilitarian 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 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 all concerned.
Still following Bentham, Mill goes on to equate happiness with ‘pleasure and the absence of pain’. For Bentham the identity of ‘happiness’ and ‘pleasure’ is quite straight forward. An action’s tendency to promote happiness is determined simply by adding up the amounts of pleasure. And subtracting the amounts of pain, which it will produce. It is a matter solely of quantitative factors such as the intensity and the duration of the pleasurable and painful feelings.
Mill is aware that this is altogether too crude. Happiness, he acknowledges, 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 the ‘flower pleasures’ but by the ‘higher pleasures’ – ‘the pleasures of the intellect, of the feeling and imagination, and of the moral 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 also 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.
Mill is here attempting, perhaps unsuccessfully, to combine two traditions of thought about ‘happiness’. The identification of ‘happiness’ with ‘pleasure’ we may call the ‘hedonistic’ conception of happiness. This we may contrast with what has been called the ‘eudaimonistic’ conception of happiness. The term comes from the Greek word ’eudaimonia’, which is usually translated as ‘happiness’. Although one of the Greek philosophical schools, Epicureanism, did identify eudaimonia with pleasure.
The Greek concept lends itself less easily than the English term to this identification. In English one can speak of ‘feeling happy’, and although the relation between such states of feeling and a life of happiness is not entirely clear, they are undoubtedly connected – one could not be said to have a happy life if one never felt happy. The term eudaimonia refers not so much to a psychological state as to the objective character of a person’s life.
The classic account of eudaimonia is given by Aristotle. He emphasizes that it has to do with the quality of one’s life as a whole; indeed, he sees some plausibility in the traditional aphorism ‘call no man happy until he is dead’ (though he also recognizes that there is little plausibility in calling someone happy after he is dead). For Aristotle happiness is to be identified above all with the fulfillment of one’s distinctively human potentialities. These are located in the exercise of reason, in both its practical and its theoretical form. Aristotle is thus the ancestor of one stand in Mill, and of that general conception of ‘happiness’ which links it with ideas of ‘fulfillment’ and ‘self-realization’1.
All ethical theories accord some importance to human happiness. They differ first in their conception of what that happiness consists in, secondly in views of how an agent’s own personal happiness is aligned with, or traded against, the general happiness, and thirdly in whether it is necessary to acknowledge any other end for human action. The simplest doctrine is that happiness is itself quite straightforward, consisting for example in occasions of pleasure; that agents only do seek or ought to seek their own happiness; and that there is no other possible or desirable end of action. The Cyrenaica may have held a doctrine along these lines. Complexity arises with more subtle conceptions of the nature of happiness. Finally, theories of ethics that are not consequentialist in nature may recognize other ethically important features of action than those arising from the goal of maximizing either personal or social happiness2.
In ordinary use, the word ‘happiness’ has to do with one’s situation (one is fortunate) or with one’s state of mind (one is glad, cheerful) or, typically, with both. These two elements appear in different proportions on different occasions. If one is concerned with a long stretch of time (as in ‘a happy life’), one is likely to focus more on situation than on state of mind. In a short period of time, it is not uncommon to focus on states of mind.
By and large philosophers are more interested in long-term cases. One’s life is happy if one is content that life has brought one, much of what one regards as important. There is a pull in these lifetime assessments towards a person’s objective situation and away from the person’s subjective responses. The important notion for ethics is ‘wellbeing’ – that is, a notion of what makes an individual life go well. ‘Happiness’ is important because many philosophers have thought that happiness is the only thing that contributes to wellbeing, or because they have used ‘happiness’ to mean the same as ‘wellbeing’.
What, then, makes a life go well? Some have thought that it was the presence of a positive feeling tone. Others have thought that it was having one’s desires fulfilled – either actual desires (as some would say) or informed desires (as others would say). It is unclear how stringent the requirement of ‘informed’ must be; if it is fairly stringent it can, in effect, require abandoning desire explanations and adopting instead an explanation in terms of a list of good-making features in human life3.
The distinction between happiness and pleasure is frequently blurred. In ordinary Language happiness is frequently used to indicate a more stable, less intense state than pleasure. Yet one could hardly predicate happiness of a life that was altogether without pleasure. While those teleological moralists who have favored utilitarian conceptions of moral obligation have (apart from the late Professor G. E. Moore and his followers) usually adopted a hedonist conception of the end of moral action, those moralists who have combined teleological ideas with the rejection of utilitarianism have inclined to speak of a happy life as the end of human beings, happiness being found in, and sometimes identified with, a life of fulfillment and harmony both within the individual’s relations with others.
In much contemporary thinking about ethics the notion of happiness is frequently invoked in criticism of moral conceptions which exalt such ideas as duty, obedience to superiors and established traditions, heroic engagement, and even commitment, and at least by implication deprecate the significance of the individual’s concern for his or her own and others’ welfare. Against such views (not without their representatives among avant-grade theologians), the importance of happiness as an unsophisticated, but comprehensive, human end receives justified and intelligible emphasis4.
Thomas Jefferson famously wrote in the Declaration of Independence that every human being has the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” For Americans, this pursuit of happiness has been more than just an abstract right. It has also been the concrete inspiration for many millions- among them immigrants, pioneers, entrepreneurs and industrialists- to follow the American dream.
In The Varieties of religious Experience, William James wrote, “How to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness, is in fact for most men at all times the secret motive of all they do, and of all they are willing to endure.” What is the happiness that motivates so many? Is it a good thing to pursue? Is it something that can ever be caught?
A look at the evolution of the meaning of the term “happiness” in Western intellectual history puts these questions in a helpful, broader perspective. Happiness was originally understood as a product of chance. Etymologically, the English word derives from the Old Norse happ, which means “luck” or “fortune.” This etymological connection between happiness and luck occurs in virtually every in do-European Language5.
Socrates and subsequent ancient philosophers argued that happiness is at least pertly a function of human choice. By volitionally cultivating virtue, we can develop a character that is more conducive no happiness. The cultivation of virtue requires the development of good habits of thought and action.
With the rise of Christianity, the emphasis remained on the cultivation of virtue, but the means for its cultivation and its expected results changed tremendously. For Christians, Virtue was something that could be achieved only with divine help. And a virtuous life was no guarantee of earthly happiness, but rather a pathway to happiness in the afterlife.
It was in the modern period that happiness was seemed not as a function of chance or as a reward for the arduous few, but as a birthright for all. With unprecedented advances in science, technology, and medicine, it seemed that the causes of human unhappiness could be eradicated and that each person would be able pursues happiness in their own way.
The two most influential types of theories of happiness in philosophy and the social sciences today are hedonic theories and eudemonic theories for hedonic theorists, happiness is a function of the way we feel in each moment of our lives.
The psychological researcher Edward Diener, for sample, defines happiness as “subjective well-being” which he operationalizes in terms of high positive affect, low negative affect, and high life satisfaction. In other words, the more pleasant emotions you have, the fewer unpleasant emotions you have, and the more satisfied you are with life, the happier you are. On this definition of happiness, empirical research indicates that most people are, in fact, happy, and that it is possible to become sustainably happier.
For eudaimonic theorists, happiness is more than a function of subjective states. Following Aristotle (whose term eudemonia means “happiness” or “human flourishing”), these theorists argue that happiness requires certain objective conditions of wealth, friendship, physical attractiveness, high social status, and good children. For the contemporary philosopher Martha Nussbaum, the list necessary for happiness includes, among other things, living a normal life span, enjoying good physical health, experiencing normal human emotions, and having control over one’s environment.
While Thomas Jefferson and the signers of the Declaration of Independence may be correct that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human right, happiness itself seems very difficult to define, and even harder to achieve. Modern optimism about the achievement of happiness has been difficult to sustain, given the intractability of certain diseases, the frequency of natural catastrophes, and perhaps most of all, the high degree of misery humans continue to visit on each other. John Dewey criticized hedonic theories of happiness on the grounds that growth sometimes requires unpleasant choices. He would argue that those who live their lives in the quest for good feelings actually stunt their own growth.
It is good for these and similar critiques to temper naïve optimism about the achievability of happiness and to clear the ground for the hard work of realistic progress. Current Scientific study of well-being and human flourishing may not be able to guarantee everyone immediate happiness, but it may help us learn how to become more effective in its pursuit6.
Socrates was the opinion that money and power were not bad in themselves, thus the wealthy might have been admirable if they had earned money virtuously7.
Socrates believed that happiness was acquired through doing virtuous deeds8.
If other thinkers had preceded Socrates with moral and social criticism, he was certainly the first to challenge his fellows on an individual basis with maxim that “the unexamined life is not worth living” (Ap. 38a). Socrates believes that this is the condition of all human beings - as such they are neither good nor bad, but owing to their needy nature all have a desire for the good and the beautiful, the possession of which would be happiness for them. Because all people want happiness, they all pursue the beautiful to the best of their ability (205a – 206 b). In each case, they desire the particular kinds of objects they take to provide the fulfillment of their needs.
He admits the explanation of the refinement and sublimation that a person experiences by recognizing higher and higher kinds of beauty (210 a – 212 a). Starting with the love of one beautiful body, the individual gradually learns to appreciate not only all physical beauty, but also the beauty of the mind, and in the end it gets a glimpse of the supreme kind of beauty, the Form of the beautiful itself, a beauty that is neither relative nor a matter of degree.
Suffice it to say that the elevation to a place ‘beyond the heavens’, where the best souls get a glimpse of true being, symbolize the mind’s access to the Form, including the nature of the virtue (247c-e). Depending on the quality of each human soul, an individual will live either a carnal, earthy life and lose its wings, or it will live a spiritual, philosophical life in pursuit of beauty. In each case, the quality of the beauty pursued will also determine the cycle of reincarnations that is at store for each soul (248c-249c)9.
Socrates says that happiness is in a life in which pleasure and knowledge are combined with each other. Reaching such happiness requires striving and endeavor. Those who reach this happiness are really prosperous. Socrates believes that happiness is obtained through preventing carnal desires. The happiness of each individual is acquired through the society’s happiness10.
Socrates found out that mankind's happiness is in self-recognition and nurturing one’s spirit and soul. Moreover, He believed that acquisition of knowledge, piety and virtue was the origin of happiness.
Socrates admitted that our true happiness is promoted by doing what is right. When our true utility is served (tending our soul), we are achieving happiness. Happiness is evident from the long- term effect on the soul.
Socrates anticipates Thoreau in arguing that the “unexamined life is not worth living”. For Socrates this meant that happiness and moral living were linked to each other. While we are pursuing virtue, we are in fact pursuing happiness, since to be virtuous is also to be happy. Socrates makes it seem both very appealing and quite possible that there is a relationship between human virtue and human happiness. For Socrates happiness is truly possible only when the soul has been perfected, and so all but the most virtuous are denied happiness.
Like all ancient philosophers, Plato maintains a virtue- based eudemonistic ethics. That is to say, human well-being (eudaimonia) is the highest aim of thought and conduct, the virtues (aretê = ‘excellence’) are the requisite skills and character – traits11.
Plato and Aristotle believed that the happy man is the one who able to think. Thinking is the highest man’s function. A thoughtful person is less dependent on the external and outer conditions. His happiness is inside him, i.e. is dependent upon his inner conditions or powers, while a seeker of fame or wealth, is seeking that which is affected by external conditions, this is a fleeting happiness. Therefore, satisfying fleeting feelings is pleasure not happiness. Happiness is not an imaginary or emotional state. It is a fundamental bond which encompasses all man’s attachments, dependencies or interests. In other words, the real happiness of mankind is in actualizing of his particular perfection. This is rarely obtained man’s happiness is actualizing his potential aptitudes12. Plato’s ethics is based on man’s happiness that is to actualize the man’s highest virtue. It can be said that this virtue is the real development of man’s personality. When the man’s soul is in a state which it should be, man is happy13.
Plato considers happiness as the highest virtue, and believes that reaching the virtue is the results of acquiring knowledge and episteme. Plato considers happiness as the pure and real pleasure that has a spiritual aspect14.
The man’s highest virtue, i.e. happiness, includes the knowledge and recognition of God. A man who doesn't know the divine aspect of the being can’t be happy.
Plato has allocated the chapter twelve of his “republic” to “happiness and unhappiness”. He believes in this regard that happiness is circumscribed by a number of properties – freedom, lack of need, lack of fear15. He adds (in the Republic) that the worst person is also the unhappiest person. Since morality is the rule of the rational mind, then a moral life is far happiness and more desirable.
In the tradition of Aristotle, happiness is broadly understood as something like well – being and has been viewed, not implausibly, as a kind of natural end of all human activities. Happiness in this sense is broader than pleasure, insofar as the latter designates a particular kind of feeling, whereas well – being does not. Attributions of happiness, moreover, appear to be normative in a way in which attributions of pleasure are not. It is thought that a truly happy person has achieved, is achieving, or stands to achieve, certain things respecting the “truly important” concerns of human life. Of course, such achievements will characteristically, they will involve states of active enjoyment of activities – where, as Aristotle first pointed out, there are no distinctive feelings of pleasure apart from the doing of the activity itself16.
Aristotle considers the happily life as the good life for man. He says that happiness is the soul's activity in accordance with complete virtue17.
Since the most distinguished, property of man is his power of thought, the more this power is increased, and the higher he will be. Therefore, the intellectual life is the basic provision of happiness18.
Happiness is the very virtue that is obtained through intellection. Happiness can be acquired morality based on moderation19.
Aristotle believes that the origin and essence of happiness, that is complete knowledge and spirit purity20. One of the requisites of virtue is that one enjoys those things he should do and hates those things he should not do. “Friendship” and having good friends can help humans achieve to happiness but an average wealth along with a behavior based on virtues is sufficient21. Man can reach the highest rates of pleasure following his intellect.
Justice, as Aristotle calls it, is a “complete virtue”. It is the precondition of all value, the requirement for any kind of humanity (Nicomachean Ethics). It cannot replace happiness, but there can be no happiness without it22.
In the argument (10.7) [of Nicomachean Ethics] that the life of study is the best life, Aristotle stresses that finest ethical virtues “require trouble, aim at some [further] end, and are choice-worthy for something other than themselves.” (1177b 18-20) These virtues are necessary in light of the human condition, and the person who lives the life of study will choose to do actions that accord with virtue, whenever he has to deal with other people (1178b5-7).
Aristotle argues that happiness, function and morality are closely connected and virtue is depended of all of them. Happiness is the highest of all practical goods.
Aristotle would have agreed that the happiness cannot be helped by philosophy in such an environment because people philosophizing themselves.
Aristotle says that sound ethical thinking should be focused on “eudaimonia”, which we might translate as flourishing’, “well- being”, or “happiness”. Yet Aristotle’s eudaimonia’ signifies something which people can achieve simply by drawing on their natural, human resources23.
Aristotle in “Nicomachean Ethics” believes that we choose always happiness for itself and never for the sake of something else, but honor, pleasure, reason, and every excellence we choose indeed for themselves (for it nothing resulted from them we should still choose each of them), but we choose them also for the sake of happiness, judging that through them we shall be happy. Happiness, on the other hand, no one chooses for the sake of this, nor, in general, for anything other than itself. Happiness then, is something complete and self-sufficient, and is the end of action.
Aristotle in the above mentioned book states that excellent activities or their opposites are what determine happiness or the reverse. That may be the reason why he is of the opinion that happy man will be happy throughout his life; for always, or by preference to everything else, he will bear the chances of life most nobly and altogether decorously, if he is ‘truly good’ and ‘foursquare beyond reproach’. Aristotle believes that if happiness is activity in accordance with excellence, it is reasonable that it should be in accordance with the highest excellence; and this will be that of the best thing in us.
Whether it be intellect or something else that is this element which is through to be our natural ruler and guide and to take through of things noble and divine, whether it be itself also divine or only the most divine element happiness. Since the intellect is the best thing in us, and the objects of intellect are the best of knowledge objects, the activity of wisdom is admittedly the pleasantest of excellent activities, and it is to be expected that those who know will pass their time more pleasantly than those who inquire.
The life according to intellect is best and pleasantest, since intellect more than anything else is man. This life therefore is also the happiest. Happiness extends, just so for as contemplation does, and those to whom contemplation more fully belongs are more truly happy, not accidentally, but in virtue of the contemplation; for this is in itself precious. Happiness, therefore must be some form of contemplation. Thus Aristotle conclude that we must not think that the man who is to be happy will need many things or great things, merely because he cannot be blessed without external goods; for self-sufficiency and action do not depend on excess, and we can do noble acts without ruling earth and see; for even with moderate advantages one can act excellently.
Epicurus learned to take his pleasure as they came: when they are natural, satisfying them is as easy as attending the body’s needs. What is simpler than quenching a thirst? What is easier – except in cases of extreme poverty – than satisfying the hunger for food or sey? What is more limited – a fortunately so – than our natural, necessary desires24.
Epicurus was no epicurean glutton or wanton consumerist, but an advocate of “friends, freedom and thought” as the path to happiness.
How should we be happy since were dissatisfied And how should we be satisfied since our desire are limitless? What a joy it is to eat when one is hungry! What happiness to be no longer hungry after eating! And what freedom to have nature as one’s only master! Temperance is a means to independence, and independence a means to happiness. Being temperate is being able to content oneself with a little; the little is not what is important: what matters is the ability and the Contentment. The limitedness of desire, which condemns us to neediness, dissatisfaction, or unhappiness, is a disease of the imagination25.
According to Epicurus one of the tasks of philosophy is saving us the incorrect designs for happiness. He himself had not large house. His food was simple. He drunk water not wine. These were the interests of a man who considered “pleasure” as the goal of life. He didn’t want to beguile anyone. His dependence, attachment and interest on pleasure was more than that his accusers to sensuality can even imagine. He, after a intellectual analysis realized what made the life enjoyable. Epicurus believed that the necessary elements of pleasure, though mysterious, are not too expensive.
He considered friendship, freedom and thinking as the main elements of pleasure and happiness. He believed that it was unlikely and improbable that wealth make anyone unlucky and disastrous, but he thought that if we have money but be deprived of the bounties of friends, freedom and analyzed life, we will never be really happy, but if we have these three bounties, but not possess money, we will never be unlucky. Epicurus divided our needs into three categories: some needs are natural and necessary, some are natural but not necessary, and some others are neither natural nor necessary.
According to this, happiness is dependent upon some complex psychological affairs and is almost free from material affairs. We can conclude from his opinions that a little (or a necessary) money might be effective. On man’s happiness, but this happiness wouldn’t be increased with increasing money. The more money will not deprive us of the happiness, but the rate of our happiness will not be increased as compared with the happiness of the low-income persons. According to Epicurus, when we remove the pains from the needs, simple dishes will have the same pleasure as the sumptuous tables We will not be happy in expensive cars without good friends, in villas without freedom, in silk coverlets bout with a great anxiety that debars sleeping. Happiness will be greatly low as long as the immaterial needs are not satisfied. Epicurus believed that nothing could satisfy the one, who is not satisfied with a little, and possessing the most wealth can’t remove the spirit anxiety and it will not lead to a considerable happiness. It is impossible that our happiness is dependent on those needs that are satisfied with the expensive things26.
Cicero reminds of seeking knowledge respectfully, and believes that no vocation is as sweet as seeking knowledge, it equips us with the good and happily, instruments, it teaches us how to spend our lives satisfactorily.
Lucretius had the same opinion as Epicurus. He helped us to realize to feel the pleasure of the cheap things. According to him, man falls a victim to the abundant and unfruitful pains that he is suffering because of his inability in understanding the limit and border of acquiring the wealth and also in his inability in breeding the original pleasures. Arts can help this orientation be amended.
Augustine says that the reward of virtue will be God himself, who gives virtue, and who has promised Himself to us, than whom nothing is better or greater… God will be the end of our desires. He will be seen without end, loved without stint, praised without weariness (city of God, XXII.30). This is a description of the best state experienced by a person, or something analogous to it, extended without limit, not a combination or structure of all good activities and the like27.
Augustine makes the connection between happiness and the good explicit: “Those who are happy, who also ought to be good, are not happy because they desire to live happily, which even evil men desire, but rather because they will to live rightly – which evil men do not”. For Augustine, happiness cannot be attained, nor is it merited, by evildoers28.
Augustine believes that in the inner light of Truth, in virtue of which the so-called inner man is illuminated and rejoices. He thinks that we all do – and ought to – pursue happiness, which he equates with seeking to experience joy. As he sees it, all humans aspire to be happy. For Augustine, the happy life consists of joy. As he sees it, all humans aspire to be happy. For Augustine, the happy life consists of joy grounded in and caused by God, but he is well aware that many people are mistaken about where to find happiness. They do not want to find in God their source of joy. But his view was that the happy life is joy based on the truth, a joy grounded in God who is the truth. Augustine begins his ‘confessions’ by addressing God, telling Him that “our heart is restless until it rests in you”29.
Thomas Aquinas writes that ‘people are perfected by virtue towards those actions by which they are directed towards happiness’. Yet, he adds, human happiness is twofold: ‘one depends on human nature and this is something that people can achieve through their own resources [while] the other is a happiness surpassing human nature, which people can arrive only by power of God, by a kind of participation in divinity’. And this participation, Acquinas argues, can be brought about only by God. ‘Because such happiness goes beyond what can be produced by human nature’, He say. ‘People cannot arrive at it by virtue of what they naturally are; they have to receive from God that by which they may be led to supernatural happiness (St Ia 2ae, 62,1). Or, as Aquinas immediately goes on to say, they need the logical virtues and not just the cardinal ones. For him, the true good for people is not “eudaimonia” but beatitudo, which he takes to be human flourishing, well – being, or happiness in union with God (Cf. ST Ia2ae, 3,8)30.
There were some developments with plenty of significance for other philosophical issues besides the ones raised by quantitative hedonism. One of the most interesting of these was Aquinas’ effort to evolve a view of pleasure that would combine important Aristotelian ideas about it with his Christian doctrines. This effort involved, in particular, locating the notion of the beatific vision that the identified as the supreme happiness. But Aquinas didn’t identify the basis of this happiness as pleasure. Rather, he maintained that we love God proper se, because of himself or what he is31.
But, Montaigne rejects severely the superficial knowledge seeking, because most of those who seek knowledge superficially are strongly unhappy. Montaigne was of the opinion that only those things deserve for learning that causes us to acquire a better feeling, so it may be a person hundreds of books regarding philosophy but not to have the happiness of those ones have heard nothing regarding philosophy. Montaigne considered as wisdom them move comprehensive and more valuable knowledge, all things that can help mankind to live happily and in harmony with moral principles32.
From the viewpoint of Spinoza pleasure may be produced by a transition from a lesser to a greater state of perfection. Pain may be produced by a transition from a greater to a lesser state of perfection. For Spinoza, perfection is the same as reality (II, Def. VI). The more perfect a thing is, the more real it is. Inasmuch as God is absolutely perfect, God is also absolutely real. God is infinitely perfect and infinitely real. Spinoza argues that knowledge of good and evil arises from the awareness of what causes pleasure and pain. The greatest good of mind, and its greatest virtue, is to know God (Iv, prop. XXVIII). If we act according to reason. Then we desire only what is good. If we act according to reason, then we try to promote what is good not only for ourselves but for others.
Spinoza admits that all emotions may not necessarily conflict with reason. Emotions which agree with reason may cause pleasure, while emotions which do not agree with reason may cause pain. Inability to control the emotions may cause pain33.
Spinoza interprets joy as what follows that passion that 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 calls pleasure or cheerfulness, and that of sadness, pain or melancholy.
Spinoza believes that virtue and the service of God are happiness itself, and the greatest virtue34.
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 through virtue. All beings naturally seek their own advantage – to preserve their own being – and it is right for them do so.
This is what virtue consists in. Since we are thinking beings, endowed with intelligence and reason, what 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, i.e., the better part of us, will be entirely satisfied with this, and will strive to preserve in that satisfaction. For insofar as we understand, we can want nothing except what is necessary, nor absolutely by satisfied with anything except what is true35.
The fact that love is without want makes it all the stronger, all the lighter, and, as Spinoza would say, all the more active36. 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 and 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, and 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 love37.
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 for the well – being of others, and is not anxious about death38. In brief, Spinoza thinks one pursues the good because of the benefit it bring to oneself39.
Spinoza believes that if we fall in love with the fleeting things and those things all humans can’t acquire an equal amount of them, we will engage in jealous, fear and rancor. But falling in love with eternal things makes man’s spirit and soul happy and makes it free from all kind of grief. Spinoza also believed that it would be harmful if man wants wealth, money, power and physical pleasures for themselves, while if man considers them as a tool and instrument.
Spinoza said that happiness is not something that man waits for reach 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 eternal40.
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 the good sacrifice for the sake of obtaining it41.
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 reach themselves to the peak of perfection and happiness42.
Rousseau says that it is up to us to share the others in our pleasures if we want to have more rates of pleasure. If man is accustomed to judge everything only from his own profits point of view, he will surely justify mistakenly the worst actions. That’s 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, and 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 his 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 in consistent with man’s nature43.
The baby should become familiar with the small sorrows if he wants to understand the great bounties and happiness. The baby nurtured in affluence and easy life will never enjoy kindness, cooperation and happiness44. If the body is in too security, the spirit will be corrupted.
In Rousseau’s society, the 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 comes45.
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 all 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 feelings46.
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 pursuer 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 happiness47.
Hegel believes that humans should seek for the general and total pleasure which is not obtained through 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 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 slave and captive48.
Nietzsche believed that any worthwhile achievement in life come from the experience of overcoming 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 was of the opinion that one couldn’t 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 displeasure49.

Muslim And Iranian Philosophers
Jahez (in Al – Hayavan) admits that the spiritual pleasures of the soul (quantitatively or qualitatively) are much higher than the sensory pleasures. It can be concluded from his writings that happiness is reaching the spiritual pleasures and attaining the perfection of the knowledge and recognition, because achieving such a knowledge and facts creates such a pleasure in the man’s soul that the sensory pleasures are lowly and weak as compared with it50.
Farabi states that one should originate and create the virtues in himself in order that he may reach happiness, i.e. one should acquire those Properties that make his recognition such that he reaches to happiness. We can call these properties as the beautiful morality (disposition) and mind power. Creating the beautiful morality and mind power is the way of reaching to the happiness. Mind power here means those soul’s properties that cause man’s recognition to be good and consistent with the reality, if a person acquires the ability of desisting from the superficial Pleasure of the ugly deeds, or finds the ability of choosing the average and mean, then he has been nearer to the good morality51.
Man is usually looking for the sensible pleasures and suspects these pleasures are the aim and perfection of the life because such pleasures satisfy his urgent needs. Since the sensible pleasure is easier to be understood and easier to reach, they debar humans from many virtues and those things which lead man to happiness. While considering the ultimate and coming pain of abominable conducts and indecorous acts will debar man from its immediate pleasure, and considering the ultimate and coming pleasure of the beautiful deeds, makes man to endure their immediate pains, thus, the motive of abominable conducts will be suppressed and the motive for beautiful and good deeds will be facilitated and firmed, and the way to man’s happiness will be made easier52.
Farabi is of the opinion that reaching the true and real happiness is possible in the Hereafter. He differentiates the real happiness from the imaginary happiness and says that the imaginary happiness is acquired when possessing such things as wealth, esteem etc. Farabi takes much emphasis on the society in reaching and leading humans to the happiness the perfection of happiness is only possible through possessing moral virtues, therefore those whose knowledge doesn’t cause them to be purified, they will not achieve happiness in this world and in the Hereafter, Farabi introduces happiness as the greatest virtue and the most complete aim.
He divides the pleasures into two categories: intellectual and sensory, and he believes that the intellectual pleasures are higher than the sensory pleasures, The sensory pleasures makes man nearer to animal and object inclinations; The power which helps mankind in differentiation of these two kinds of pleasures is philosophy and logic. Man can become aware of the real essence of truth and false using logic and reach to the truth. Thus, the first stage to reach happiness is acquisition of logic so that man’s intellect reaches its peak of perfection53.
Ibn Muskuwaih defines the pleasure as the sensation and comprehension of the desirable thing. He considers the intellectual pleasures higher than the sensory pleasures and says that many a man has disregarded and dispensed with the sensory Pleasures in the way to reach the intellectual pleasures. He Believes that the happiness of every creature is in that the creature attains the aim for which it has been created. Ibn Muskuwaih admits the Aristotle's theory concerning man’s happiness and states that man’s happiness is in the Perfection of both his body and his spirit (soul), thus the perfection of body or the perfection of body or the perfection of the spirit (soul) alone is not sufficient for the happiness of the human beings man’s happiness is possible in this world54.
Any being is dependent upon the highest aspects of the distinctive acts of that being, when these are considered from the point of view of its completion or perfection, the happiness of man will depend therefore upon the highest aspects of his & actions55.
Ibn Sina (Avicenna) believed that happiness is divided into two groups: real or true happiness and figurative happiness.
True or real happiness is in obtaining the happiness in the Hereafter, i.e. in acquiring the eternal grace of God and reaching to the divine bounties. Achieving to such happiness is the desirable and innate aim of mankind and so it is best for all of human beings. But figurative happiness is not an innate and inherent aim for humans, rather it is only called happiness by some people, e.g. some of them think and imagine that happiness is in reaching the sensory pleasures and superintendence in worldly affairs, but the wise do know that happiness is not found in the fleeting and corrupted things. Ibn Sina was of the opinion that intellectual pleasures cannot be compared with the sensory pleasures, but intellectual pleasures can only be comprehended and understood by those who have purified their souls from all kinds of sins and vices.
Avicenna (Ibn Sina) defines (in the Esharat and Tanbihat) pleasure as comprehension of and reaching to that, which is considered as perfection and virtue for the perceptive. He believes that the internal Pleasures _ particularly the intellectual pleasures _ are higher than the sensory pleasures.
Avicenna says that the main reason of some peoples disinterest to acquisition of rational idea, is the involvement of their souls to perceptible things that debar their attention to the rational ideas, and as long as an individual doesn’t pay attention to the rational ideas, no enthusiasm will be created for him.
He also says [in Rasael] that so some people suspect that happiness is reaching to sensory pleasures and worldly superintendence but the wise know that none of the sensory pleasures can be considered as happiness, because all of them are along with deficiencies and adversities. Ibn Sina admits that the real happiness is a thing that is inherently desirable and is chosen for itself, there for it is higher than those things which are chosen for other things.
Happiness in the highest thing that human beings are looking for, thus guiding people to happiness is considered is the highest guidance. Avicenna says in "Shafa & Najat" that the real happiness is in that man attains the perfection in speculative and practical powers. An individual who observes moderation in the three Powers, i.e. sensual, indignation, contrivance, and therefore obtains the Virtues chastity, courage and wisdom, will adorn with the virtue justice that is the comprehensive of the three virtues, and this is the perfection of the practical power.
The perfection of the speculative power is in this fact that the rational system and complete form are created in man and he transforms in to a rational world In brief, Avicenna believes that happiness is in achieving the intellectual pleasures, and since these pleasures have different ranks, the happiness will also have different ranks56.
In his short essay of “science of the Dispositions”, Ibn Sina begins by acknowledging that God is “the one who enriches the soul of the man who is devoted to His virtues and the means whereby he may acquire then for himself’. “It is a requisite in human life “, he continues, “that he who would attain perfection must seek for happiness in this world and in the next. It is incumbent upon him, moreover, to perfect his power of discernment by means of many sciences, each of which is explained fully in books that enumerate the sciences.
He must perfect his power of action also in accord with the virtues, whose fundamental qualities are purity, courage, wisdom, and righteousness. Furthermore he must avoid the vices which are directly opposed to these virtues”. But when he undertakes to give the opposites of righteousness, he first enumerates the many virtuous qualities that are included in the comprehensive term “righteousness”, such as generosity, frugality, nobility, tranquility, steadfastness, etc.
Both al-Farabi and Ibn Sina maintained that the soul has a longing or love for what is above and years thus for its own final absorption in to the one. Ibn Sina Pictured the moment when the evil would be raised and the soul of man would look once more upon the Invisible, the triumphant moment when “it is filled with joy , and having become purified from the stain of all flesh , and more aware of the inner meaning of all things , it returns whence it came ….. Through the exercise of reason what is potential within the soul reaches actuality, through the enlightening influence of the Universal Soul, in accordance with the degree of receptivity within the Soul and its state of Preparedness, which is the result of virtues”57.
Ghazzali believed that the man’s real happiness is the result of knowledge, and the highest know ledges that is the knowledge and recognition of God, because the happiness of everything is in these things in which is his pleasure and comfort, and the pleasure of everything is in those things consistent with his nature, and this consistency is in those things they have been created for58.
Ghazzali says that man’s happiness is in the recognition of God His and worship and servitude and following the religion is the way of happiness.
Ghazzali believes that no pleasure is like the pleasure of the spiritual vision of God.
The human beings can achieve the pleasure of recognition of God when they are free from overweening, self - glorification and over ambition and the worldly matters do not destroy their inner beings and do not destroy their hearts59.
Ghazzali believes (in Kimia-e-Saadat) the ultimate degree of man’s happiness is reaching to God, and this position is really his paradise, and he has been created for reaching this statues and position.
Ghazzali (in Kimia-e-Saadat) places much emphasis on this fact that man should seek for the truth of his soul, and should come to know what is his happiness, and in which is his happiness, and what is his misfortune, and in which is his misfortune.
Thus the soul or heart’s pleasure is in what is its property and it is created for, i.e. the cognition of the truth of the affairs, and the highest cognition is the cognition of God and those things which are related to him. Those who can reach the cognition of God that have known themselves, i.e.., have reached the cognition of themselves, and following the religion is the way to happiness, because man himself is unable to recognize the truth because of his sensuality.
Ghazzali (in Kimia-e-Saadat) believes that man’s happiness relates to his soul or heart’s happiness is in the cognition of God, and this cognition is obtained through the cognition of make and inventiveness of the exalted God. The reason why Ghazzali has such an opinion is that he believes that the happiness of everything is in what its pleasure and comfort is in it, and the pleasure of everything is in what is consistent with its nature and what is consistent with its nature that is created for it.
Khajeh Nasir Tusi considers happiness as the aim of moral purification, i.e. he says happiness is the aim of human soul’s perfection. He believes that cognition of God is the highest knowledge and reaching to this highest position is the highest happiness. He Considers happiness as the result of virtue, and virtue as the result of purification of man’s different natural respects the perfection of man’s potential powers, Khajeh says that happiness consists of wisdom, chastity and justice. He believes that the final happiness (man’s happiness in the Hereafter) is the desirable aim of life. Evidentially, is obtained through observing the religious teachings. He divides happiness in to three categories: spiritual, physical, and Social60.
Khajeh Nasir Tusi defines pleasure as comprehension of all that is Compatible with the soul and it is considered as virtue, Perfection and happiness. He divides the Pleasures in to two categories: sensory and intellectual. The Sensory Pleasures, such as eating, drinking and sleeping, etc. are comprehended by man through apparent Senses. These pleasures have been created in mankind so that the physical needs could be met.
Some People suspect that The Sensory pleasures are the aim of happiness, while the intellectual pleasures are not comprehended through apparent senses, and in spite of being stable, can’t be achieved easily Khajeh Nasir introduces the intellectual pleasures as more important than the sensory pleasures. He considers (in Akhlag- e- Naseri) man’s happiness as the ultimate aim of man from his soul’s purification refinement and perfection. Man’s happiness is not for reaching the sensory pleasures; rather it is the pure pleasures free from all sorts of Pains. Thus, man’s happiness is based upon his soul’s happiness and it, in turn, is based on achieving wisdom, courage, chastity and justice. There is a firm and deep relationship.
Between happiness and Virtue & perfection, Khajeh Nasir divides man’s happiness into three categories: spiritual, physical & social. Soul happiness is when man recognizes the essence of his inner being and be adorned and well - arranged with divine morality and disposition and reaches the stable pleasures. This happiness is obtained through learning ethics, logics, mathematics, natural science, divine science and acting to God’s commandments. Physical happiness is when the body’s organs are healthy.
Social happiness is concerned with social system of the nation, government, living affairs and population Man’s happiness is meaningless without soul happiness because until man’s essence is unknown and until it is not adorned and well _ arranged with divine morality and does not reach God and eternal pleasures, man cannot achieve happiness.
Khajeh Nasir has distinguished the real happiness with two important characteristics:
1) Happiness is a pure pleasure and is not mixed with any pain. A happy man (who has reached happiness) never becomes sad and gloomy, and never regrets. Such a pleasure will be obtained whenever man achieves God’s nearness and never commits an action contrary to God’s will
2) The real happiness is a constant, stable and unchangeable fact, and therefore it is not affected by vicissitudes of time and changing the peoples’ conditions and different problems and calamities, because an individual who has attained happiness doesn’t desist from moderation, and not to be hindered or detained from his other personality aspects because of engagement in a practical aspect of his personality. He endures firmly against difficulties and hardships and doesn’t lose his security61.
Khajeh Nasir (in Akhlag-e-Naseri) believes that it is up to man to know which things cause his happiness and which things cause his äǘÇãی. Khajeh places much emphasis on this fact that it is up to man to know himself. From the viewpoint of Khajeh Nasir a happy man is the one who reaches the goal he has been created for.
Mahdi Naraghi & Ahmad Naraghi consider the absolute happiness as the most ultimate and highest goal of education. Naraghi believes that the highest rank of happiness, which is called “the truth of happiness”, or “the true happiness” is the true knowledge and good morality that are inherently desirable for man, Naraghi also considers love and acquaintance with God, that are acquired through obtaining true knowledge and good morality, more deserving for happiness, although true knowledge, good morality, piety, etc. are all considered as virtue and happiness.
Naraghi (in Jameossadat) says that achieving the perfection of happiness or absolute happiness is possible in the light of continual purification of one’s properties and powers, i.e. all of the individual’s properties and behaviors should become good and deserving such that different events conditions can’t destroy them. In other words, the real happiness is when one reaches a position of perfection and spirituality on which no factors can change his apparent or his interior. In this position, man becomes a manifestation of God and His dispositions and his deeds become similar to God’s deeds and beauties and goodness are done by him without external motives.
Naraghi admits that happiness is in intellectual pleasures, and believes that if one wants to reach the true and real happiness, he should really enjoy moral education so that his intellectual power may be reinforced, because moral education causes that his intellect to be dominant over his other powers and his soul to be purified from abject moral properties and to be adorned with beautiful human and angel – related dispositions.
This is both an instrument and tool for reaching the eternal happiness and can also be considered as a worthwhile go in itself62.
Naraghi believes that happiness can have two aspects: scientific and practical, so the way to reach it requires science and practice (action), therefore an inner transformation needed for reaching the happiness, that is the moral education from the viewpoint of Naraghi should also be mixed with mysticism63.
Tabatabaie, one of the greatest philosophers and thinkers of Iran, believes that happiness is reaching to a state that one has been created to achieve it. Therefore, the real and main aim of mankind is reaching to happiness. Human beings and all the other creatures have been naturally guided to this aim and have also been created in such a manner, and have been equipped with the things consistent with that aim. Tabatabaie considers man’s intellect and intelligence or man’s nature as a standard and criteria for a happily life .If humans go the way God’s prophets have introduced to him, will become happy in this world and in the Hereafter64.
1. Norman; cited in Honderich, 2005
2. Blackburn, 2005..
3. Griffin, 2000..
4. Mackinnon; cited in Macquarrie & Childress, 2005.
5. McMahon 2006, cited in Lachs &;Talisse, 2008 .
6. Powelski; cited in Laches & Talisse, 2008.
7. De Batton, 1969.
8. De Batton, 1969.
9. quoted from Frede, 2003.
10. Forughi, 1997.
11. Frede, 2003.
12. Rendel & Bakler 1996.
13. Copleston, 1989.
14. Naqib zadeh 1993.
15. Pojman, 2003.
16. Audi, 2001.
17. Popkin & Stroll, 1995.
18. Durant, 1983.
19. Kardan, 2002.
20. Durant, 1983.
21. Koshentzo, 1998.
22. Comte – Spanvil, 2003.
23. Davies, 2003.
24. Epicurus, letters to Menoeceus; quoted from Comte – Sponvil, 2003.
25. Comte – Sponvil, 2003.
26. De Batton, 1969.
27. White, 2006.
28. Noddings, 2006.
29. Quinn; quoted in Rorty, 1998.
30. quoted from Davies, 2003.
31. White, 2006.
32. De Botton, 1969.
33. Wild, 1930.
34. Curley, 1996.
35. IV, Appendix.
36. the Ethics, III, P58 and P59, with dem. and school. Also V, P40.
37. Comte- Sponvil, 2003.
38. Nadler, 2005.
39. Miller, 2005.
40. Yaspers, 1996.
41. Rousseau, 2001.
42. Alavi, 2005.
43. Claydon, quoted from Alavi, 2005.
44. Rousseau, 2001.
45. Dowar, 2002.
46. Handerich, 2005.
47. Handerich, 2005.
48. De Batton, 1969.
49. De Batton, 1969.
50. Bureau of Houzeh and university cooperation, 1998.
51. Fosul Montazeah.
52. Bureau of Houzeh and university cooperation, 1998.
53. Attanbih Assaadah.
54. Beheshti, Abujafari & Faghihi, 2000.
55. Sharma, 2001.
56. Bureau of Houzeh and university cooperation, 1993.
57. Sharma, 2001.
58. Kimia -e- Saadat.
59. Kimia - e- Saadat.
60. Akhlag- e- Nasari, 1985.
61. Beheshti, Abujafari & Faqhihi, 2000.
62. Jameossadat & Me’rajossaadah.
63. Baheshti, Feghihi & Abuja'fari, 2001.
64. Almizen interpretation.

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