What is Happiness? This series aims to make learning about philosophy as easy as possible by bringing together the best videos, podcasts, and articles from across the internet and allowing you to choose the type of content that best suits your learning style. Simply choose one of following links to get started:
If you want a comprehensive overview of the idea of happiness:
- Read the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Happiness. However, you should keep in mind that the Stanford Encyclopedia in often quite technical and this article may be difficult for beginners. It’s also quite long at around 12,000 words. Here’s a short excerpt that introduces the idea of happiness:
“What is happiness? This question has no straightforward answer, because the meaning of the question itself is unclear. What exactly is being asked? Perhaps you want to know what the word ‘happiness’ means. In that case your inquiry is linguistic. Chances are you had something more interesting in mind: perhaps you want to know about the thing, happiness, itself. Is it pleasure, a life of prosperity, something else? Yet we can’t answer that question until we have some notion of what we mean by the word.
Philosophers who write about “happiness” typically take their subject matter to be either of two things, each corresponding to a different sense of the term:
1. A state of mind
2. A life that goes well for the person leading it
In the first case our concern is simply a psychological matter. Just as inquiry about pleasure or depression fundamentally concerns questions of psychology, inquiry about happiness in this sense—call it the (long-term) “psychological sense”—is fundamentally the study of certain mental states. What is this state of mind we call happiness? Typical answers to this question include life satisfaction, pleasure, or a positive emotional condition.
Having answered that question, a further question arises: how valuable is this mental state? . . .”
If you’re looking for a somewhat shorter and and more engaging introduction:
If you’d prefer a video introduction:
- Watch this animated video by Dr. Mike Evans on The Science of Subjective Well Being a.k.a. Happiness [3:57 mins]
If you prefer audio and podcasts:
If you’d just like to casually browse a few quotes:
And if you like to learn more:
If you’d like to get more philosophy in your life, follow us on Facebook or Twitter or enter your email below to get a quote/passage from a classic work of philosophy delivered to your inbox each day. They include key passages from Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, and many more. Each passage is paired with a link to a beginner friendly article, video, or podcast, so you can easily learn more about that day’s idea. The goal is to make it easier for everyone to get a little bit more philosophy into their life.