Links on living well

I’ve come across two different links today that speak to the broad question of doing this whole “living” thing well:

  1. A blog post by Lydia McGrew in which she reminds us that “An irresistible urge to follow every ephemeral fad is not the mark of a life well-lived.”
  2. A TED talk by Barry Schwartz in which he reminds us that rules and incentives are not sufficient for living properly. What we really need is the virtue of wisdom. He closes with the words, “In giving us the will and the skill to do the right thing — to do right by others — practical wisdom also gives us the will and the skill to do right by ourselves.” (be sure to also check out this talk and this talk, both of which are also by Barry).

Go check them out. Won’t take too long.

Happiness and joy

I was thinking about the difference between happiness and joy, considered psychologically. The tricky thing with accounting for the difference is that any account of these two has to explain why happiness and joy seem related, but nonetheless why one can rejoice (ie. express joy) in the face of suffering (that is, experiencing sorrow, which is contrary to happiness).

It seems to me that happiness is experienced in actively achieving a perceived good (experienced as pleasure), or in passively not lacking a perceived good (experienced as contentment), or in an action insofar as it is directed towards one of these goods. We’d say, then, that the object of happiness is the perceived good.

The object of joy, on the other hand, is that which is perceived as an ultimate good (ie. the good which all other goods are directed towards and which itself is not directed towards any good beyond itself). People typically organize their entire lives around what they perceive as their ultimate good.

So happiness and joy definitely have something in common: joy is just happiness with respect to our ultimate good. But it is possible that, in suffering, we nonetheless contribute to our ultimate good, and therefore we can feel joy in the face of suffering.

New blog title

I’ve just changed the name of this blog from “//Roland’s Comments” to “Thinking Thought Out”. I’ve also changed the tag line from “Theology, Philosophy, Mathematics, Computer Science” to the quote from GK Chesterton that inspired the new name.

I originally started this blog thinking I’d write about my four interests previously listed. On reflection, I’ve seen that I predominantly write about philosophy and theology. The previous name, which was a programming “joke”, didn’t seem to fit any more (also, while I like my new theme, I don’t like my name showing up big and bold on the front page).

“Knowing” versus “knowing about”

We can all agree that there is more to knowing someone than merely knowing a collection of facts about them. The latter we might call knowing about them, whereas the former is simply knowing them. James Chastek has recently written a blog post in which he distinguishes two senses of experience: (i) experience as sensation, and (ii) experience as an ordering idea. I wonder if this knowing someone or something is not closely related to this second sense of experience? Perhaps to know someone just is to have an ordering idea about them.