Aristotle was the best ad man/wrote the most persuasive copy for living an ethical life. Happiness, he believed, is the driving force in humans and the only way to achieve it is to live a good and virtuous life. Athenians felt they had to be do-gooders to attain that most sought after state of bliss. Freud would say Aristotle overlooked one important fact: humans are always and everywhere causing themselves misery. Traumatized people often keep dreaming about their traumas, severely repressed people are susceptible to all sorts of physical ailments, and we’re all at the mercy of perverse fantasies we’re not even aware of.
It’s not living the ethical life that’ll make us happy, but lying on the couch talking to a shrink. The writer with a foot in both camps, the psychoanalyst and philosopher Jonathan Lear, says they’ve both got it wrong. Psychoanalyzing happiness is this hour on The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)
Jonathan Lear, author of “Happiness, Death and the Remainder of Life.”