The Conceptions of Happiness Essay

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Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is a negative utopian science-fiction novel. The masses are given access to vast amounts of pleasure. Sex, drugs and various other indulgences are readily available to anyone. The society remains a negative utopia though. People are ripped of any passion they might hold, real science remains stagnant, and people cannot live past the age of sixty. But citizens of the novel still seem to be jubilant, even those of the lower castes. That is because the government of Brave New World gives them no choice but happiness. In the real world not everyone is happy. Happiness in the real world is subjective. Not everyone in the world would be satisfied with a night of intercourse and a dose of soma. But everyone (excluding John and Helmholtz) in the novel is more than satisfied with that. This is because happiness is the product of ones conditioning.
Humans do have an innate propensity for achieving happiness. Abraham Maslow outlined the stages of human motivation. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs the first and most basic stage is “physiological” (i.e. food, water, shelter). The second stage is “safety” (i.e. freedom of fear and pain). The third stage is “belonging” (i.e. family, friends, love). The fourth stage is “self-esteem” which entails achievement and respect. The final stage is “self-actualization” or a sense of fulfilment in life. According to Maslow, humans seek to fulfil their current stage of the hierarchy. When a stage is satisfied the person will move to the next. On Maslow’s pyramid “self-actualization” is almost synonymous with the Merriam-Webster definition of happiness which is “a state of well-being and contentment” (Def 2a. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Web. 2014). Achieving one’s final need should inherently give a sense of contentment. The other four stages of Maslow’s hierarchy should produce one’s well-being. Humans then must logically seek happiness when achieving “self-actualization”. Happiness is a natural goal set by humans.
The concept of happiness is universal. People share similar ideas of happiness regardless of cultural barriers. In the paper CULTURE AND CONCEPTIONS OF HAPPINESS:
INDIVIDUAL ORIENTED AND SOCIAL ORIENTED SWB by Lou Lu and Robin Gilmour (SWB means “Subjective Well-Being”) definitions of happiness from American students and Chinese students were compared.The authors found “these definitional accounts of happiness are similar to one another; they all consider happiness as a desirable, positive inner state of mind” (Lu and Gilmore 270). This reinforces the idea that Happiness is the same mental state for everyone. Both American and Chinese students similarly described happiness as a state of mind to desire. Nevertheless, this is a lowest-common-denominator definition.
The cause of happiness proves to differ dramatically across oceans. Lu and Gilmore found that American and Chinese students agreed on the basic concepts of happiness. The authors also found that the definitions...

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