The philosopher Epicurus, as I mentioned in a previous post, defines happiness as freedom of the body from pain and freedom of the mind from distress.
I sometimes muse on how this defines happiness negatively. Not, of course, negative in the sense of bad or unpleasant. How could such freedom appear bad or unpleasant?
What I mean is negative in the logical sense, the sense of saying that something is not something (as distinguished from saying that something is something). So in saying happiness is freedom of the body from pain and freedom of the mind from distress, Epicurus seems to define it, in a logical sense, negatively. Happiness is the state of not experiencing anxiety and not being in pain, the state where anxiety and pain are absent.
And yet… Well, many would say that happiness is not merely an absence of unhappiness. And happiness does, I think, seem to have its own particular quality, and to be a state which is not merely the absence of certain other states.
Personally, I think that although he may define it negatively, Epicurus does regard happiness to be something more than merely an absence. And it might be interesting to explore further what that might be.
What do you think?
Besides writing, SeekerFive creates visual art and designs under his Leaf Town brand for tech accessories and decor. His current emphases are unique cases for your iPhone or Android phone.
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