Comment author: kbog  (EA Profile) 02 August 2018 10:24:34AM *  4 points [-]

Generally we think about maximizing happiness as an abstract moral claim. We're in favor of whatever really does maximize happiness in the long run, even if the direct strategy is different. So we're okay with the idea of promoting stoicism rather than positive psychology, even if we're utilitarian. The possibilities that we may become unstable, suffer greatly at the first sign of hardship, lose productivity due to addiction, etc are all things that matter to a happiness maximizer in various ways, because they make people suffer in the long run.

On the other hand, this really seems like a difficult psychology question. What attitude promotes the best mental well-being in the long run? Maybe stoicism is more sustainable and robust. Or maybe it's not, maybe positive psychology is also a good route to acceptance. I think it's not clear.

Comment author: Ruth_Freiling 02 August 2018 01:01:17PM *  0 points [-]

What attitude promotes the best mental well-being in the long run? Maybe stoicism is more sustainable and robust. Or maybe it's not, maybe positive psychology is also a good route to acceptance. I think it's not clear.

I agree! My own understanding comes mostly from personal experience, observation and logic reasoning, as well as a lot of research around that topic. However, I don't know of actual quantitative data collection comparing both approaches and their effects on well-being and the sustainability. So I try very much to stay open minded towards new data, and would love people to share it if they know of comparing research data.

However, to be honest my interest isn't actually aiming for improvement of individual feelings but for improving the ability and skills to do good. And what we know so far in order to be efficient in being good (meaning effective in working for one's own values) one needs to be mentally strong and resilient, and not fearful to a potentially cruel truth, to not manipulate data collection and analysis.

Because, what is the value if it is discovered that being an ideal effective altruist isn't a happiness maximizing thing to do. I question that, because I very much believe being classic altruistic (if at all), and not effective altruistic, has way more potential to gather positive feelings.

Comment author: Telofy  (EA Profile) 02 August 2018 06:05:37AM *  7 points [-]

Thank you for starting that discussion. Some resources that come to mind that should be relevant here are:

  • Lukas Gloor’s concept of Tranquilism,
  • different types of happiness (a talk by Michael Plant where I think I heard them explained), and
  • the case for the relatively greater moral urgency and robustness of suffering minimization over happiness maximization, i.e., a bit of a focus on suffering.
Comment author: Ruth_Freiling 02 August 2018 11:19:31AM 3 points [-]

Thank you very much, Telofy, for your contribution! I am actually not addressing or arguing about value systems like positive or negative utilitarianism or suffering focused ethics. I see how my arguments may seem like being related to that discussion, but sustainability and propagation of well-being I think is as important for positive utilitarians as sustainable suffering reduction for negative utilitarians, so I hope I can win both sides over for my arguments. It is rather true that I am partly referring to Michael Plant's use of words. However, I do actually approve of his work very much so this post isn't really addressing that, but the confusion and misunderstanding that is coming from not using differential terms (according to their connotations) and moreover the concept of positive psychology.
And since I'm working on similar issues I notice how much confusion there is among professionals, that make working together rather hard. So this post is partly to clarify my take on things in order to avoid repeatedly debate on principles, and rather have it once on a high level (which so far doesn't seem to work, as people keep their arguments for themselves). I wish people would reveal a bit more then dislike, so I could actually address things accordingly. But maybe my writing doesn't reach a quality standard people feel worthy to argue with.


A Critical Perspective on Maximizing Happiness

I know of two substantially different approaches to deal with the difficulties of the world. The stoic approach is about making oneself accept the things how they are, no matter how horrible, painful and frightening. Acceptance is a rather leveled emotional state, unlike happiness which is a one sided set of... Read More
In response to Open Thread #40
Comment author: Ruth_Freiling 01 August 2018 09:36:53AM 5 points [-]

Looking for Karma points.

Hi all, I would like to post a critical perspective on maximizing happiness. It includes an alternative approach, mental health issues and burnout. I would love to see a discussion about it, but not only on FB :) Anyone interested and willing to give me some karma to enable my post?

Cheers :)