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Tuesday, February 18 - 11:56amSanction this postReply
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I have developed a "Formula for Happiness" that I think is both non-contradictory and useful as a "rule of thumb" by which one can correctly guide one's life. If memory serves correctly, it was Nietzsche who also proposed a "Formula for Happiness", he said, "H = V + R", or, Happiness = Virtue + Reason. I somewhat agreed with his idea but also found it vague and could be true only within the range of the moment. It's vague because no definition of "Virtue" is given, "Virtue" could mean selflessness or just about any other contradiction, and it's applies only to the range of the moment because addition is a one-time affair. So, to improve on this idea I came up with a different equation that specifically enumerates the virtue involved and projects it over the course of a lifetime by using the multiplication sign instead of the plus sign. My Formula for Happiness is expressed as the equation, H = I x R, or Happiness equals Integrity by Reason. Do you see the implications of this Formula? It means, that if either I or R is contradicted, H is also contradicted. Just thought I'd send this idea along to some great people like you who might be interested and maybe even understand it. So, what do you think? H = I x R, can you contradict it? If so, how am I wrong? I'd really like to know. Thanks for reading, Ronnie Lingerfelt



Post 1

Tuesday, February 18 - 2:16pmSanction this postReply
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Hi Ronnie,

 

Integrity is very important.  Branden lists it as one of his six pillars of self-esteem. But there are 5 other pillars that need to be attended to or one's self-esteem suffers and I can't imagine anyone that is going to be happy with low self-esteem.

 

Reason is, of course, critical to living, much less living well.  But it is only part of our story as humans.  We also have emotions and feelings. Without them, we'd be robots and wouldn't 'experience' life anymore than a computer program could revel in the exhilaration of running well, or cry over a bug. Emotions and feelings are the purpose of living, while reason is the means.

 

The trick is to never use the one where it is the other that should be in play. Never using emotions to make decisions, to guide us or to 'tell' us what is.  And never use reason to repress or rationalize emotions away.

 

Productive work requires the exercise of reason but the purpose goes beyond the paycheck, and it is in the experience of pride, job satisfaction, the sense of self-worth, and the sense of competence to succeed at whatever life might present us with (those last two being the different sides of self-esteem).

 

As for H = V + R, I'd say that the exercise of reason IS a virtue.  And for H = I + R, I'd say that it isn't complete. There are people who exercise reason and remain true to their principles but have low self-esteem because of issues of low self-acceptance, or low levels of personal responsibility, or failing to feel comfortable enough to assert themselves, and their values, or don't live as fully consciously as they should (that's not the same just exercising reason).  I'm listing some of the other pillars that Branden identified. Also there is the question of the basic principles the person adopts. To show great integrity and reason in the pursuit of altruism could lead one right off a cliff and end their chances for long term happiness. And they need to recognize the key areas of life where happiness can be found: a rewarding long term romantic relationship, a career that lets them express their full potential, and learning.  Success in these areas require that we live purposefully and that is yet another pillar to self-esteem.

 

And dropping into realm of negative psychology for a moment, I'd point out that most people start themselves with at least a few bad psychological habits while still young children and by adulthood end up self-sabotaging at least some of the full measure of happiness they would otherwise enjoy. Some are defensive where no real need exists, others make themselves blind to things they allow to cause then anxiety or hurt or use interpersonal 'skills' that don't let them have the best relationships.  Learning to change some of the ways we use our consciousness so that it best serves us in pursuing a happy life is also something most people would benefit from.  For some people, they will never be happy to a significant degree because of these psychological artifacts of early years.

 

Acorns grow into oak trees and that's not an accident, but a statement of their nature.  For humans to flourish they must act according to their nature and the requirments of the world we live in.  It isn't an accident that those very processes and methods that let us succeed in life are also the same processes and methods that generate happiness.



Post 2

Tuesday, February 18 - 8:20pmSanction this postReply
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Hello Steve,

Thank you for your cogent and informative response to my message about the "Formula for Happiness". I have read Branden's, "The Psychology of Self Esteem" and "Breaking Free" but not "Six Pillars of Self Esteem". I forgot all about it, thanks for reminding me, it's going on my "bucket list" of books to read right away.

 Of course you're right that the Formula is incomplete, I mean for it to be used only as a "rule of thumb", as a quick reference to remember when one is tempted to compromise one's integrity for the expedience of the moment, which is how people destroy themselves every day.  When I'm tempted to compromise, I say to myself, "H = I x R", (Happiness  =  Integrity by Reason) and it makes me mentally stronger as it reminds me of my purpose in life, my Happiness.

 By the way, I just discovered Rebirth of Reason today, what a great site! Such great minds and great links to great minds, wish I had discovered it years ago.

 Thanks so much for your response Steve, that was a great too.

  Ronnie 



Post 3

Tuesday, February 18 - 10:16pmSanction this postReply
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Ronnie,

 

>>>>It means, that if either I or R is contradicted, H is also contradicted<<<<

 

Yes, it means that either negative I or R = -H, or unhappiness.

 

Regrettably, it also means 'no integrety times no reason equals positive happiness.

 

Also, given a quantity of H, then either I or R can take an infinitey small value.

 

Lastly, if either or both I or R consisted of parts (I= Ia, I b, Ic....), then either whole- sum I or R must be multiplied by each of the others' total parts. For example H=R(Ia,Ib,Ic...)

 

Then the philosophic problem becomes, does reason effect all aspects of integrity? Or must reason and integrity be seen as a priori wholes?  

 

EM



Post 4

Tuesday, February 18 - 10:45pmSanction this postReply
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A Priori anything is a fallacy....



Post 5

Wednesday, February 19 - 6:10amSanction this postReply
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Hello Mathews,

 Thanks for your input into the discussion about, "A Formula for Happiness" (H = I x R, Happiness equals Integrity by Reason) however, I am curious about your statement that, "Regrettably, it also means no integrity times no reason equals positive happiness". I have always thought that, 0 x 0 = 0, that nothing times nothing equals nothing. Do you consider zero a positive number? I thought zero was neither positive nor negative but a  neutral number, that a positive number would be any number greater than zero and a negative number any number less than zero. Am I incorrect about that?

Ronnie

 



Post 6

Wednesday, February 19 - 7:37amSanction this postReply
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Ronnie,

 

I would agree that using a multiplier would result in an equation that more closely has results that correlate with real (only if they can only be >= 0 in value)...  but lets talk more about whats really going on:

 

"Integrity" said by itself has a perspective/subjective problem just like good/moral.  Said from an Objectivist I would think they meant "consistently working to attain one's own personal goals using observation and reason (objective) while not working as a slave for others nor being a slave oneself".  So "inegrity" for an Objectivist would actually in itself require reason.

 

If your own personal goals change a lot, and your new personal goals consider your previous goal attainment as bad...  I guess that would be one way to not have integrity.  For example, a woman who accomplishes the goal of becoming a well educated and highly paid business professional, and then at 35 decides to start looking for a man to start a family with, and realizes she is desperate with little to bargain with in the market of available alpha/beta men (especially with current child support enforcement).  Or a male/female who goes to college to get a degree (while learning nothing of practical use in the free market), and then starting their real productive life four or five years later with $20k to $80k of debt.

 

Here is Dean's formula for happiness:

Pleasure = identification of greater goal attainment, that: sensory input's interpreted state is greater in goal potentials than a previous state.

Happiness = continually having pleasure

==============

 

Happiness is highly dependent on what your goals are and what you do.  If your goals are easy to accomplish, then happiness is easy to accomplish.  The difficulty/complexity of discovering/learning/performing the actions required to attain one's goals makes happiness more difficult to accomplish.

 

Self esteem, identifying that your own actions over time have had a positive effect on your goals, and that you have attained goals that are sufficiently satisfying to yourself...  is the key to having a long term slow trickle of pleasure: happiness.  Self esteem would be higher the greater one lived with integrity.

 

If your body works well, then for example, eating ice cream will quickly lose its pleasure while consuming.  Introducing high levels of pleasure chemicals (such as dopamine) to the body to artificially experience the natural effects that happen due to goal attainment should also quickly lose their potency. 

==============

 

What would you like to accomplish over the next few years Ronnie?  How about in the next 10, 20 years?

 

Eva, how about you?

 

(Edited by Dean Michael Gores on 2/19, 7:38am)



Post 7

Wednesday, February 19 - 8:23amSanction this postReply
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Ronnie,

 

I took your word 'contraducted' to indicate a negative value.

 

Otherwise, you've made an excellent point: with a null value for either integrity ofr reason, there can be no happiness.

 

Eva



Post 8

Wednesday, February 19 - 8:40amSanction this postReply
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re 6

 

Integrating learning models (eg Kahneman's heuristic/analysis) into a poly-dimensional model of self identity.

 

This will involve developing ways of measuring said 'dimensions' into a coherent phenomenology.

 

Also, the Kahneman itself seems rather crude. IMHO, it needs a scalar --type 1/type2...

 

Integrating a 'Kahneman scalar' (my neologism!) with an accepted way of defining self-identity(s) will be the easy part.

 

Otherwise, learning and identity are two discreet projects which will occupy my masters & doc here at Dust Bunny U.

 

The intergration will be post-doc math, hopefully done with a grant (social parasite!) that will take me to a sparsely-populated seacoast. 

 

EM

 



Post 9

Wednesday, February 19 - 10:29amSanction this postReply
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The Antarctic sea coast is sparce.  Perhaps while there you can also acknowledge the climate change scientists with a wink and a nod.

 



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Post 10

Wednesday, February 19 - 12:07pmSanction this postReply
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Ronnie,

 

I think that your use of any equation as a symbolic reminder of your standards (e.g., to live with integrity), the means (reason) and your primary goal (your happiness) is an excellent idea. It helps you to stay focused on what is important for you. But I think that you shouldn't take the mathematical nature of the equation beyond that. To discuss positive versus negative numbers would be to imply that we now have such a complete understanding of the nature of happiness that each individual can reduce its pursuit to numbers.... and that isn't so. To go that direction with this, into positive versus negative numbers, or to ask about how many decimal places of accuracy we should use, or how do we handle zero, is to go in the wrong direction on this. The right direction is to focus on the key ingredients of happiness that an equation might symbolize as way of reminding ourselves to stay true to our core values with the understanding that they are what produce our happiness.  Purpose. That should be the purpose of the equation. I don't think you ever intended to gather numerical data or to crunch the data for its numerical output... right?

 

Dean,

 

Self-esteem is an automatically generated, background sense of ourselves that comes from how we use our consciousness. We can have high self-esteem even if our chosen goals aren't met (although people who use their consciousness properly will, on average, have more success with their goals).  If we imagine that our mental machinery, in all of its complexity, has a set of automatic, full-time circuts that monitor how the machinery is used, and that these circuts or subroutines generate negative signals when the machinery is misused, like running a motor that is low on oil, and generates positive signals when the machinery is run properly, that would be a better anology for self-esteem.  Each and every organism that has some degree of conciousness has the capacity as its primary tool of survival.  The use of powerful claws or swift feet or cunning inventions are all means of survival that flow from having consiousness - it is the primary.  The greater the variation possible in the use of a kind of consciousness, the greater the need for a self-regulating device.  For us humans, self-esteem is that device.  Some values are so because of nature and out of our control as such, e.g., we need oxygen.  Some values we create, e.g., medical devices.  Some values are cast in subjective shapes, e.g., the flavor of ice cream we like best on a given day.  But goals, the things we will make in our minds, and cast forward into the future as our targets, those and formulation of the actions they will require if we are to achieve them are all product of our consciousness.  For self-esteem to properly signal successful usage of the consciousness which is understood as I've been describing it - as the tool whose purpose is to guide us in survival and in flourishing - means measuring its use in the ways Branden described.  Are we living consciously?  I.e., are we avoiding some aspect of reality by not focusing how we should?  If so, we get negative feedback for that.  On the other hand, if we focus, even when an aspect of reality is painful to face, then we get positive feedback.  And so it goes for all 6 pillars Branden identified. 



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Post 11

Wednesday, February 19 - 4:17pmSanction this postReply
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Did you read the above, Eva?

 

Sam



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Post 12

Wednesday, February 19 - 6:39pmSanction this postReply
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Steve that was beautiful.



Post 13

Wednesday, February 19 - 10:18pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks, Jules - That's nice to hear,



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Post 14

Thursday, February 20 - 8:10amSanction this postReply
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Hi Steve,

Once again I must acknowledge you are correct, (post 10). If philosophy could be reduced to mere numbers, man would be a robot calculating numerically every aspect of his existence, including what he had for breakfast. Not only is that idea absurd, it would be amoral if not immoral. So what then is my "Formula for Happiness" (H = I x R, Happiness equals Integrity by Reason)?  Actually, it's a metaphor, a metaphor that uses the understanding of math to aid the understanding of philosophy. To me, metaphors and anologies are very useful for the comprehension of abstractions.

So here's the metaphor, H = I x R, and here's an anology for it.

Suppose happiness is a properly inflated tire and unhappiness is a flat, then you're driving along, run over a nail and a pinhole develops in the tire. What happened to the tire? It's integrity has been compromised. If you do nothing, a flat will eventually occor and unhappiness will result, but  the tire's integrity has not been completely destroyed, so reason can be used to repair it. Now suppose you run over a large metal shard and it blows the tire into millions of seperate pieces, the tires' integrity is completely compromised, unhappiness occurs immediately and it's beyond the use of reason to repair it, the only real option is a new or different tire.  

So what conclusions can be drawn from this anology? That happiness is dependent on integrity, that the greater the compromise of integrity, the greater the unhappiness, that reason can be used to repair integrity but probably not if the compromise is too large.

So do you see what I mean? That H = I x R is actually a metaphor, that it is not meant to be taken as a strictly mathematical formula such as, A² + B² = C², but as a kind of philosophical formula that uses a mathematical equation to help understand this wide abstraction that man has called, "philosophy".  

Thanks for the great effort you've shown and your very knowledgeable input into this conversation.     

Ronnie



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Friday, February 21 - 5:03amSanction this postReply
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Hello Dean,

Thanks for asking what I'd like to "accomplish over the next  ten or twenty years"...  What I want to do is to play all the songs on my piano that I've always loved but didn't know how... and to play the songs I wrote... so I did something I always wanted to do... but always put off... I took piano lessons.

My teacher is wonderful, he said, "practice, practice, practice, play, play, play"... it seems to be working... so right now, my piano is silent... which means...I gotta go, I got work to do.  

Ronnie



Post 16

Friday, February 21 - 6:23amSanction this postReply
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Steve, I agree.



Post 17

Saturday, February 22 - 8:57pmSanction this postReply
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>>>That H = I x R is actually a metaphor<<<<

 

My point is that we use math in order not to indulge in metaphor.

 

When we use language, meaning slides form speaker to listener, and between all of us. Math nails meanings down.

 

EM



Post 18

Monday, February 24 - 2:38amSanction this postReply
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Eva,

The math is not the terratory. The math is only a tool for the comprehension of the terratory. A metaphor is also not the terratory and for the same reason.

Since the ultimate purpose of philosophy is the achievement of happiness, does it not stand to reason that a philosopher may postulate a formula of it's most fundamental and crucial elements without which happiness would become impossible? So my question then was, what is most crucial and fundamental, what are the lowest common denominators of Happiness? So I boiled what I know about philosophy down to it's two most basic elements, conciousness and reality,  and arrived at the conclusion that Happiness equals Integrity by Reason, or, H = I x R , which simply means that, if Integrity is compromised or if R is contradicted, unhappiness will result.

Thanks,

Ronnie



Post 19

Monday, February 24 - 6:24amSanction this postReply
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Philosophy means "love of wisdom." Happiness can be one of its goals, but it is certainly not the main or only goal. 

 

I can think of many people who are irrational or lack integrity but are very happy nonetheless. There is this guy Greg on Objectivist Living who believes some of the most absurd new-age nonsense you've ever heard, but it allows him to go through life blissfully ignorant of painful realities the rest of us confront. Obama lacks integrity, but he seems pretty happy to me. This implies to me that some of your assumptions are flawed.



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