Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Mortimer J Adler: Pursuing Happiness (1963)

Mortimer J. Adler [1902–2001; born in New York City] gives as good a thoughtful lecture on the pursuit of happiness as one could imagine possible in a 30-minute video; this is produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica Films.

Adler, a professor of the philosophy of law at University of Chicago and a well-known American educator, elucidates Aristotle’s theory of happiness with the view that doing so will give us insight as to what happiness entails and as to what are the necessary components, if you will, to a life of happiness. This includes health, wealth, knowledge, virtue and friendship, which the combined assiduous and sincere pursuit of leads to happiness.

Happiness does not come easy; it is not for the weak of heart. We can allow our vanities to take command of our virtues, and thus fail in our ultimate pursuit. The longer we fail to recognize this, and fail to correct our course, the further we remain from happiness.

Happiness (eudaimonia) is not a momentary fleeting feeling but a lifetime devotion. “We cannot be happy by living for the pleasures of the moment,” Adler says, giving one example of a mistake people make too often, thinking that the singular pursuit of pleasure in all of its forms will by itself lead to happiness.

Moreover, Adler, by way of Aristotle, argues that the way to achieve happiness is universal and is the same for all persons; and that those who desire and seek power to rule over others do not understand the basis of happiness. “The pursuit of happiness is cooperative and not competitive, ”Adler says at the conclusion. Such is an argument with which I agree. The lust for power can corrupt happiness. Great literature speaks similarly, and it gives a lot of clues of the ways and means of pursuing happiness.

For more, go to [here] & [here]; see also Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics: Book 1; “The Theory of Happiness.”