Friday, 8 April 2011

Aristotle vs gibbons

Enough about writing for a moment. Here's a post about being happy.

An interesting blog I read is Jules Evans' The Politics Of Wellbeing. The main focus of it is the search for the good life, from the philosophy of Epictetus and the Stoics, through to the modern political fascination with happiness: what it is, how to measure it, and does the State have a role in fostering it. The most recent article talks about whether the polytheism of the early Ancient Greeks maps better on to what neuroscience is telling us about how the mind works, than does the monotheism of the rational philosophers from Plato through to the evolution of modern liberalism. Earlier articles look at what government is trying to do when it gets itself involved in the business of happiness, and . Thoughtful, interesting, and well worth a read.

As can be seen from Jules' blog, people from Aristole to David Cameron (now there's a sentence I never anticipated writing) have long debated what happiness is, and what the true route to it might be.

There is perhaps an simpler answer than can be found in philosophy: happiness is watching the best animals on earth. Happiness is watching gibbons. If one day I find myself rich, I am going to build a gibbon sanctuary, and people who are feeling melancholy can come to it and watch the gibbons for a while, and go away happier than when they came.

Some people will argue that a gibbon is not the best animal on earth. They will talk about power, and speed, and grace, and they will argue that the tiger is in fact the best animal (there are, it is said, some people who say lion, but they are of course freaks and should be shunned). As conclusive proof that all these people are wrong, today I leave you with:

Gibbon taunting tigers.

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