Invulnerability: On Securing Happiness

Invulnerability: On Securing Happiness

Invulnerability: On Securing Happiness

Invulnerability: On Securing Happiness

Synopsis

Steven Luper analyzes the nature of happiness and compares two strategies of pursuit: the western approach known as 'optimizing', in which we try to bring about the satisfaction of our desires, and the eastern method known as 'adapting', in which we transform our desires so that nothing can hurt us.
"Luper's clearly written, yet heartfelt, book will serve to widen the narrow horizons of contemporary moral debate, and not just within academia". -- David E. Cooper University of Durham

Excerpt

The worst tragedy most of us will face is death, our own and our loved ones’. Bereavement and the prospect of dying before we are ready can burn away our softer emotions like a fire hollowing a tree, so it is no surprise that over the centuries people have offered help. Usually this help features the suggestion that there is no tragedy to be concerned about. People of obvious intelligence and apparent integrity such as Gautama (‘the Buddha’), Socrates, Epicurus, and Epictetus have denied that dying is a bad thing. Remarkably, they have done so without the slightest sign of self-doubt or hesitation.

My reaction to such denials has changed through the years. At first I thought that these people were self-deceptive in a contemptible and transparent way, but that while it was pathetic that practically everyone either takes their advice eagerly or else (more commonly) reaches the same view independently, little harm was done. Somehow people are able to take solace in the thought that dying is at worst trivial and quite possibly the beginning of a blissful immortality, even though they seethe with rage when someone they know is killed or when their own lives are threatened. I thought that the denial takes some of the edge off the prospect of death, so that people are not as angered by it as they might have been, and that for the most part people are able to compartmentalize their denial in a way that prevents it from significantly affecting their lives. Every society attempts to prevent the killings that, in other moods, it waves aside.

I still think that the refusal to see that death is an evil is selfdeceptive, but now I think that the deception is in many ways opaque. It is also quite harmful. Unfortunately, denying the seriousness of death requires numbing oneself in numerous ways . . .

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