Exploring the Relationship Between Happiness and Morality, and the Value of Technological Development in Civilizations

Lucas Charbonnier

Lucas Charbonnier

Mar 21, 20243 min read

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Exploring the Relationship Between Happiness and Morality, and the Value of Technological Development in Civilizations

Introduction:

Happiness and morality have often been considered intertwined concepts. Is happiness a moral end in itself? Can it serve as a criterion to guide our duties? On the other hand, civilizations have been evaluated based on their technological advancements. Is the development of technology the true measure of a civilization's progress?

Part 1: Happiness as Not a Moral End

The philosopher Kant argues that happiness should not be considered a moral end. According to Kant, morality entails fulfilling our duties without expecting any rewards or seeking personal pleasure. Happiness is merely a hope and an anthropological need that should be pursued outside of moral obligations. While adhering to moral principles may lead to happiness or unhappiness, it does not change the uncompromising nature of moral duty.

Part 2: Happiness as a Moral End

Contrary to Kant's perspective, eudemonism suggests that happiness and virtue are intertwined. This view advocates for the association of happiness, virtue, and knowledge. Additionally, the stoics believe that true happiness lies in freedom and virtue. They argue that we should detach ourselves from external goods that are beyond our control, as they only lead to enslavement to desires and ultimately unhappiness. Aristotelian philosophy states that happiness is the ultimate good and should be pursued for its own sake. While external circumstances contribute to happiness, they are not sufficient on their own.

Part 3: The Value of Technological Development in Civilizations

The development of technology has often been associated with progress and power in civilizations. Mastery over nature through efficient technological advancements leads to an improved quality of life and the realization of human aspirations. Additionally, possessing advanced technology signifies economic and political dominance, allowing states to impose their rules on others. It is tempting to rank civilizations based on their technological advancements, perceiving them as steps in a continuous evolutionary process towards increasingly technologically advanced societies.

Part 4: The Relativity of Values

The danger of ethnocentrism arises when civilizations tend to devalue others due to their differences. Ethnocentrism occurs when we consider our own ethnic group as the standard of reference. However, according to Levi Strauss, there is no universal model for hierarchizing the values of civilizations. Each civilization fears what is dissimilar to it, leading to a lack of a universal criterion for evaluating civilizations. This highlights the need to consider alternative value systems and criteria for evaluating civilizations.

Conclusion:

While happiness and morality may not always align, they remain significant aspects of human life. Happiness can be pursued outside of moral duty, but it can also be integrated into moral ends through the association of virtue and knowledge. Similarly, the value of technological development in civilizations should be examined with caution, considering the relativity of values and the dangers of ethnocentrism. In light of these discussions, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

1. Cultivate a sense of duty and moral responsibility, separate from the pursuit of personal happiness.

2. Strive to integrate happiness and virtue, recognizing the importance of knowledge and self-discipline in achieving a fulfilled life.

3. Approach the evaluation of civilizations and their technological advancements with an open mind, acknowledging the relativity of values and the dangers of ethnocentrism.

By considering these insights, we can navigate the complexities of happiness, morality, and the value of technological development in civilizations more thoughtfully.

Resource:

  1. "Le bonheur est-il une fin morale ?", https://www.annabac.com/revision-bac/le-bonheur-est-il-une-fin-morale (Glasp)
  2. "La valeur d'une civilisation se reconnaît-elle au développement de sa technique ?", https://www.annabac.com/revision-bac/la-valeur-d-une-civilisation-se-reconnait-elle-au-developpement-de-sa-technique (Glasp)

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