Monday, September 27, 2010

Philosopher Derek Parfit on the nature of the good life

What is best for people is a composite. It is not just their being in the conscious states that they want to be in. Nor is it just their having knowledge, engaging in rational activity, being aware of true beauty and the like… Each side put forward as sufficient something that was only necessary. Pleasure with many other kinds of object has no value. And, if they are entirely devoid of pleasure, there is no value in knowledge, rational activity, love or awareness of beauty. What is of value, or is good for someone, is to have both: To be engaged in these activities, and to be strongly wanting to do so (Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons)

What Bertrand Russell Lived For

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. (Bertrand Russell)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Charles Darwin on the role of poetry and music in the good life

If I had to live my life again I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week… The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809-1882 (pp. 138-139)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Positivity and its limitations

Do we really want our life to be about having as many positive thoughts and feelings as possible? Maybe. Maybe not.

 Is this the kind of statement you want on your tombstone?

 "Here  Lies ..... , a man (or woman) who successfully managed to experience a 3 to 1 ratio of positive to negative thoughts.”

 I think I want my tombstone to say something about me  being a loving father, caring husband, and someone who sought to improve this human condition. I bet you ...  have similar hopes and values.

 Joseph Ciarrochi (quoted from an e-mail to the Friends of Positive Psychology ListServer)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Is reading short stories good for you?

"Reading short stories is the Western form of meditation"
Kurt Vonnegut

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Difficulties in decision-making and its costs

A cursory examination of the clinical problems presented by patients illustrates that many individuals are characterised by a history of procrastination, impulsive decisions regret and/or the inability to decide between alternatives." (Leahy, 2004).