Human happiness is lightness and joy.
It is a light and joyful glow over the fact of being alive — of living life with energy and with zeal and enthusiasm: a buoyancy of spirit and benevolent sense of delight over the expectation of what life, in all its strange and magical wonder, has in store.
But happiness is not itself a primary. It is a by-product, a side-effect, a consequence — a consequence of things more fundamental that bring it about.
Human happiness is not a consequence of only one thing or one condition.
The full and legally protected recognition of individual autonomy — human-beings able to voluntarily act and interact, free from state coercion, force, command-and-control — this is one of the fundamental conditions of human happiness.
State coercion is the antithesis of voluntary, consensual human action.
Even more fundamental to human happiness, however — more fundamental because it is the thing that gives rise to the fact of individual autonomy as a moral-politico imperative and ultimately brings about the principle of non-coercion, making non-coercion a virtue thereby, which in turn creates the principle of justice, which is the legal recognition and protection of individual autonomy and its corollary, which is voluntary consensual human interaction: the most fundamental condition of human happiness I’m referring to is goodness.
Happiness is rooted in and is a consequence of goodness, which in turn derives from one’s sense of self: one’s sense of self-worth and self-efficacy. These things develop in direct proportion with how one lives.
Goodness is benevolence.
Goodness is caritas.
Goodness is agape.
Goodness is sweetness, tenderness, good-will.
Goodness is patience and calm.
Goodness is lovingkindness.
Goodness is not cruelty. It is not confusion, manipulation, malice.
The word “goodness” is synonymous with virtue itself.
It’s because of the metaphysical fact that every individual human-being possesses the faculty of reason, which is also called the rational faculty, that human survival is not primarily physical.
Human survival is primarily psychological, cognitive, epistemological.
The activation of reason — the will to focus, to exert the effort of attention against the strain of inattention — which is to say: to think — this is the full and fundamental act of human will. It is an activation of will that each of us must make all throughout the day, every day, all throughout our lives.
No one can exert the effort of attention for another.
This act — this decision — is self-generated and self-sustained. It is the locus of individuality. It is the seat of free will.
Humans spend the majority of their lives inside their own minds — each human-being individually.
This is precisely why survival for humans is not primarily physical but psychological, cognitive, epistemological.
Human survival is physical too, but not primarily.
Our physical survival is secondary, and it is so precisely because of the process of voluntary exchange, which gives rise to the fundamental social phenomena: the division of labor.
I repeat: the division of labor is the fundamental social phenomena. It is a distinguishing characteristic of the human species.
The division of labor is the reason that human survival is no longer primarily physical, as it is with all the other animals.
No other animal besides the human animal engages in trade, exchange, truck, barter.
Only the human animal.
Trade and exchange are a direct consequence of the human quiddity: the faculty of reason.
We each as individual humans live by means of our reason, which is our faculty of rationality.
This is the fundamental thing that defines and unites all human-beings — regardless of skin-color, race, beauty, sex, sexual-orientation, gender, age, country, color, class, creed, or any other superficial, non-fundamental, non-definitional characteristic or trait.
We each individually possess a rational faculty, which is the human faculty of reason, which is the capacity to think, and the activation of which by definition requires an act of individual choice, which is a mental act: an act of each individual will.
This act is each individual’s decision to make, or not.
It is the choice to be aware, to pay attention — “the strain of attention and the strain of keeping the attention focused,” as the philosophical psychologist Rollo May so accurately described it — to observe and to process our observations, to consider, contemplate, deliberate, cogitate, reflect, introspect, perpend, ratiocinate: i.e. to think, which means to reason.
The words “thinking” and “reasoning” are synonymous.
“Reason is a faculty for the integration of knowledge that human beings possess,” wrote Spinoza.
To think means to deliberate beforehand upon future action and to reflect and introspect afterward upon action already taken. That process requires a continual act of will — the will to put for the effort of attention against the strain of inattention.
This one thing alone — and nothing but this one thing alone — is the thing that gives rise to the entire field of ethics, which is also called morality, which is also called right and wrong, good and evil, and which in turn gives rise to the fields of both politics and also economics: because human individuals possess the faculty of reason, the activation of which requires an act of individual will, which is also called choice or volition, and which no one individual can perform for another.
It is a continual choice that flows without surcease across the long arc of each and every individual human life.
If human individuals did not possess the faculty of reason which gives rise to choice, which gives rise to ethics and morality, which is also called moral agency, the behavior and deeds and acts of all human individuals would be neither ethical nor unethical, neither moral nor immoral but amoral — neither good nor bad but simply existing — just as animals are amoral for precisely this reason.
The wolf, the pit-bull, the puma, the shark, the gorilla, the grizzly bear that attacks and kills and eats the innocent child is not evil, not bad, not immoral. The man or woman who does so is.
The Good is that which fosters and nourishes human life, which is not primarily physical but psychological, cognitive, epistemological.
We each spend the majority of our own individual lives inside our own individual minds.
Human happiness is the goal of human life — the goal and the ends, but it is not the means. The means are first mental and second physical: physical in how we act and enact the thoughts and ideas we develop through the use of our reason, which is not automatic but requires a continual act of choice.
It is in this sense that the goal of human life is emotional — the goal.
Human happiness is lightness and joy.
Human happiness is rooted in the virtue of voluntary, non-coerced human action and in the virtue of goodness.
The fruits of lightness and joy are benevolence, kindness, lovingkindness, calm, caritas, agape.
Yet even though the goal of each individual human life is emotional, the means of achieving this emotional state are not emotional. The means are first and foremost cognitive and second physical: in how we live according to our ideas and thoughts — which is another way of saying, our deeds and actions.
We are each as individuals defined by our actions — all of our actions cumulatively — and our actions, in turn, are shaped by our thoughts and ideas, which come about through the effort of attention. When no effort is put forth, the thoughts and ideas that accumulate are neither thoughts nor ideas — not in the true and strict sense of the words — but dogmatic beliefs.
Our actions and deeds follow us all through our lives because our actions and deeds are us: They compose us and are themselves composed of our thoughts, which is a product of the human capacity to reason, which is effort, which is choice.
The means to the ends, which is happiness — happiness is the ends but not the means — is rooted most fundamentally in the rational faculty, which is volitional by its very nature: the choice to be aware or not, to think or not. This is the full and final act of each individual’s free human will.
Human happiness is a side-effect, a by-product, a consequence: a consequence of caritas, which is goodness.
And goodness is timeless, as it is also chosen.
“When we analyze human nature with all the tools that modern psychology brings to us … we find ourselves pushed back to the level of attention or inattention as the very seat of free will.”
[The following is excerpted]:
The defining feature of a free society is that under such a system of freedom everybody has the chance of achieving prosperity.
Laissez faire gives everybody unlimited opportunity, and everybody knows that hard work and strenuous effort yields fruit.
In such a place, under such a system, all paths are open to the ambitious and the energetic. Optimism and an awareness of one’s own strength and efficacy reign supreme.
People who live in a land of liberty are filled neither with despair nor dread nor pessimism but rather with self-confidence and hope, benevolence and goodwill. Even when met with failure or when unfulfilled at the end of a life, there is no cause for alarm or despair. The children will start the race anew, and they will have the chance to succeed where the generation before has perhaps fallen short.
Life in such a land is worth living because life is loaded with promise and potential.
Under such conditions, the rising generations are driven by the spirit of the adventurer. They’re born into a society of human prosperity and progress, and they carry the spirit of human prosperity and progress, and they grow up with an implicit knowledge and understanding that human progress and prosperity are healthy and good — they foster and breed human happiness — and that they as individuated human-beings are efficacious and can contribute to progress and prosperity. They will shape the world according to their ideas. Tomorrow is theirs, and they must prepare for the great things that life, in all its strange and magical wonder, has in store.
Such people in such societies do not sulk in victimhood, awaiting retribution, complaining endlessly while at the same time proclaiming and demanding the privileges that their youth purportedly affords them. They act, rather, as healthy young humans should act:
They do not boast about their youth or their dynamism because they know that, being young, they are dynamic, and so there’s no need to call attention to it. Why should they?
Neither do they disparage the previous generation or generations, nor challenge their elders with arrogance and self-aggrandizement. They seek to build upon the world of the previous generations with their actions, not their talk.
This is precisely the spirit and the sense of existence that government regimentation and bureaucratization annihilates forever.
This is precisely the spirit murdered by coercive governmental programs.
This is precisely the optimism and energy of youth and the natural condition of youth forever exterminated by the culture of victimhood and the entrenched mentality of victimization.
All-around regimentation spells the doom of individual ambition, individual initiative, individual human happiness which is also called the energy of life.
Bureaucratization once allowed grows unstoppably.
Government work offers no opportunity for the display of personal talents and skills. The routine of bureaucratic work may provide a sense of security but it’s the security of a prison cell, and the cost of it is colossal: it is the crippling of the human mind forever — the mind never free to make its own decisions and shape its own fate, human beings not relying upon their own strength, but forever taken care of by bureaucratic masters orchestrating the working of the cogs.
Propaganda is one of the very worst evils of bureaucracy and full regimentation.
Propaganda is always the propaganda of lies, fallacies, and superstition.
Truth does not need any propaganda.
Truth holds its own.
The defining mark of truth is that it is the accurate representation of reality, and it carries on by the mere fact of being accurate.
True means accurate.
To say that one’s aim is true is to say that one’s aim is accurate.
Truth does not fear liars. Veracity easily withstands their competition, which is really non-competition — the non-competition of prevarication and propaganda.
Yes, we on the Indian reservations are privileged, make no mistake. We are the epitome of privilege: because we do not exist by right. The very definition of a right is any act or action which can be exercised without another’s permission or say-so.
We on the reservations exist in a system of all-around state regimentation. We exist by government permission and privilege alone.
Freedom once gone is gone forever.
Don’t let it die.
Reservation Trash and the White Rose