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Natural Social Contract Annotations

Happiness - The Purpose of Life

The reader will only be able to understand the purpose and meaning of this annotation and its relationship to the Natural Social Contract (NSC), if s/he has first read the Introduction section of the NSC and its explanatory and elucidating annotation.

1) Many people have used the phrase "it's all about emotion" to describe their particular favorite area of activity, but this is almost always meant as an attempt to distinguish emotion for reason. I know of no one who has ever stated "human life is all about emotion", as I do, and at the same time does not mean to imply that emotion is contrary to or independent of reason. However, a second important aspect of emotion has been stated by Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged, that "the highest emotion comes from the finest discernment of the mind". The first statement means that emotional responses or feelings of one sort or another are the motive and the assessed Beneficial response to every Choice that a human makes, and the second that emotional response will be of most Benefit (assessed to be highest) when it is most in agreement with all contents of the mind. These truths of human nature are why the definition and the understanding of a valid concept for Happiness is the second most important factor (after the understanding of the fact of essential separation of each human from the rest of Reality1) for the successful application of any science of human conduct. Since the Theory of Social Meta-Needs is intended to be the basis of a complete and consistent valid science of Social conduct and the NSC is intended to be its Contractually implemented portion, this means that a valid definition and understanding of the concept of Happiness is also critical for any successful understanding and usage of the NSC.

I have chosen to use the word Happiness (or Happiness State) as the general term to describe the s-Evaluable State that includes all and only the sensation/feeling/emotional Attributes of a Freeman with respect to which hir Actions seek to maintain, increase or decrease their a-Values in order to always increase most or decrease least, the State Value of hir Happiness State as a whole. While some people may see this all inclusive definition as a misuse of the word Happiness, I had to choose some word for the general concept that I needed to define, and Happiness seemed the closest vernacular word to me, so I have adopted it as my technical term for the general concept that I am describing here. Moreover there is considerable precedence for this use of Happiness in such an all inclusive manner. Here is a quote from the great 19th century natural rights philosopher, lawyer, abolitionist crusader and anti-state pamphleteer, Lysander Spooner, which very cogently describes the basis in human reality of the Theory of Social Meta-Needs.

To know what actions are virtuous, and what vicious - in other words, to know what actions tend, on the whole, to happiness, and what to unhappiness - in the case of each and every man, in each and all the conditions in which they may severally be placed, is the profoundest and most complex study to which the greatest human mind ever has been, or ever can be, directed. It is, nevertheless, the constant study to which each and every man - the humblest in intellect as well as the greatest - is necessarily driven by the desires and necessities of his own existence. It is also the study in which each and every person, from his cradle to his grave, must necessarily form his own conclusions; because no one else knows or feels, or can know or feel, as he knows and feels, the desires and necessities, the hopes, and fears, and impulses of his own nature, or the pressure of his own circumstances.2

Before beginning a more detailed analysis of Happiness, it should be noted that I am separating the meaning of the concept of Happiness and the determination of the s-Value of a Happiness State, from the question of how a person can increase the s-Value of hir Happiness State. The general question of how to optimally increase one's Total Future Happiness is considered within the definition of Choice and its annotated comments.

The reason that Happiness is so critical for both the Social and Non-Social life of a Freeman is that, as Spooner stated above, it is the basis of all determination of any kind of s-Value (ie. of s-Evaluation) by each Freeman's mental activities, conscious or subconscious, about hir current situation (ie. hir current State) and, ultimately, of all determination of Chosen Actions the purpose of which is to alter or maintain that situation in a manner that will optimally increase hir Total Future Happiness. The subjective s-Evaluation of one's Personal Happiness State and all manner of Actions that will increase or decrease it, within the science of human conduct, thus assumes the same role as does one's Personal subjective Evaluation of the Worth State of a product or service within the science of economics (and thus the science of human conduct - praxeology - includes economics) - it is the internal mental tallying method with respect to which all Choice Estimations are made and all Decisions ultimately transformed into Chosen Actions. A major difference is that while economics only deals with Exchanges between humans of Values measured by money or other tangibles, a complete science of human conduct must also deal with Exchanges both between humans and within a single human3 of Values that most thinkers have heretofore been reluctant to measure by money or other tangibles, mainly because they are highly non-fungible.4 Nevertheless, it is logically clear (as Ludwig von Mises has, in fact, described5) that praxeology extends from economics to include all human Action for the purpose of increasing Total Future Happiness. In order to help understand Happiness and with an aim towards the potential mensuration (act, process, or art, of measuring) and increased fungibility of all forms of Value that are Exchanged between Freemen or compared and bartered within individual minds, I have dissected the concept of Happiness as follows, with necessary elaboration below:

The Happiness Attribute Vector gathers all the multifold contributions to a Freeman's present moment desired/undesired sensations/feelings/emotions into one complex, potentially measurable item. For example, one of the multi-faceted aspects of Happiness for a human is the scope (range of applicability in terms of the number of Attributes and the a-Value or Interval of each) of hir Available Actions/Events/States (ie. hir Freedom), since more of these clearly allow more Choices by which s/he can try to optimally increase hir Total Future Happiness. Since many of the contributions to Happiness appear to be independent of others (eg. Is there any amount of time spent listening to your favorite music which is equivalent to the pleasure of eating a 100 gram amount of your favorite food? If there is such an equivalence, how does it change with time and circumstances? And how much of the pain of a cut on your body would you be willing to endure to obtain each of these?) and in spite of the difficulties of comparisons of different values (eg. Is such cost - ie. negative happiness - you are willing to pay even the same for each two equivalent values - ie. are such values associative?), I have selected a vector quantity as the natural mathematical measuring tool for this purpose. Even though neuroscience is not yet able to measure (or even fully itemize) the individual component Types and a-Values of such a Happiness vector, it is clear that such must exist, because the brain makes some kind of calculation with those components every time that it makes a Decision to Act. Whatever units of measurement are ultimately used for the various independent Happiness components (eg. minutes for music, grams for food, brain pain sensor readings for the cut, etc), there must also be a weighting factor that will vary with Type, time, satiety, etc (eg. the kind of music - although these may even be independent, can one truly equate the joy of a certain amount of Mozart to that of a certain amount of Madonna - or the varieties and degrees of flavor of various foods? - also noting the difference in pleasure between the first 10 grams of a food and the last 10 grams, of displeasure from the same degree of cut on your leg versus abdomen versus face, and how fast a healer you are, etc). So there must also be a Happiness Importance Vector, with each component of it being the weighting factor corresponding to each independent component (Type) of the Happiness Attribute Vector, ie. of Happiness that one is experiencing, with these weighting factors each also independently varying with time and circumstance, sometimes even between positive and negative numbers for the same Attribute (eg. hot, cold).

In order to arrive at some kind of summation of the Happiness Attribute Vector components and their Happiness Importance Vector weighting factors, which is needed to allow the comparison of the different Attributes of a given Happiness State, the comparison of the different Happiness State Values, and the eventual making of Choices and the taking of Chosen Actions to produce the highest possible Happiness State Value, what is mathematically called the scalar product of these two vectors can be computed - ie. the sum of all the products of the Happiness Attribute Vector components with the corresponding (same Attribute Type) Happiness Importance Vector component. Although it is unlikely that any Freeman consciously does any such computation (the conscious mind appears to be incapable of dealing with such detailed complexity without additional memory and calculation aids), something like this must actually be done by the subconscious (one's mental background processors) by means of some neural network within the brain, since such a computation appears to be the only mechanism that will allow the components of a given Happiness State and the different Happiness States to be compared in order to form the basis by which Chosen Actions are determined.7 Thus, while no one could consciously do this kind of complex s-Evaluation every time that s/he makes a Decision (because of time constraints alone), something very like this must actually be done subconsciously within some part of the brain. These conclusions are also fully consistent with what many highly self-analytical individuals have observed about their own behavior; namely that the closer one trains one's feelings and emotions to be consistent with one's well-considered (rational) conclusions and the longer one allows one's subconscious to consider a question, the closer any such subconscious evaluation (and any emotional manifestation of that evaluation) will be to one's long-deliberated conscious evaluation of the same data.

One of the most important tools of human Action are learned automated behaviors or habits. Habits can be both good (those that tend to increase Total Future Happiness) and bad (those that tend to reduce Total Future Happiness). A good habit is essentially a learned generalized response that causes one to apply a particular generalized kind of behavior or assessment, to a specific State of one's Existence if it has Attributes that match the requirements of that particular generalized response. Good habits of assessing Happiness relative to a certain situation can be extremely helpful to enable one to more quickly do the mental assessment of one's Happiness State described above. Thus, one can and obviously should (in the sense that it will Benefit one) learn to apply such automated assessment tools (good habits) to reduce the amount of time and effort needed to arrive at an adequately accurate assessment concerning Happiness (which resources can instead be then directed towards other means of increasing one's Happiness).

An alternative Representation of the Happiness State of a person to that of the vector approach described above, would be to think of the different Happiness Attributes as being vertical bars along the x-axis of a bar chart, with the a-Value of each Happiness Attribute (positive or negative amount) being the height (y-value) of the bars. For each bar, there would also then need to be another chart of ordered bars which would show their relative contributions to the Happiness State (the relative importance of each Type of Happiness). Multiplying these two bar sets together would then yield a third bar chart whose profile (relative bar heights) would show the relative contributions of each Happiness Attribute towards the total Happiness. Again, as with the vector approach, there would finally need to be a method by which all these bar values could be summed to get an overall s-Value of the Happiness State (which would be identical to the definition of Happiness State Value given above for the vector approach).

In the end, I decided that the degree of complexity concerning Happiness detailed in the above annotation paragraphs was unnecessary for the definition of Happiness in the NSC, particularly since different Freemen may each have a different way of subjectively s-Evaluating hir own Happiness State. All that is needed to satisfy the requirements of the Theory of Social Meta-Needs is to understand that each Freeman does have (actually must have) some manner in which to compare and sum up all contributions to hir Happiness; otherwise s/he would not have any means to make any decisions about how to increase it or prevent it from decreasing.

2) After defining Lifetime Happiness, I realized that it is not a very practical definition because it is it never complete and known, and it has the disadvantage of not separating what portion of total Happiness can be altered from what cannot be. Therefore, I decided to separate Lifetime Happiness into its two clearly distinct parts: Total Past Happiness, with respect to which no alteration is possible, and Total Future Happiness, which is always yet to be obtained and is thus completely open to be created by one's Actions. In addition, I defined the concept of Total Future Happiness Expectation, since the actual amount of Total Future Happiness is always unknown at the current time and all that one can really do is to make one's best estimate about what it will be, based on past experience and current plans for the future.

The definition of Lifetime Happiness, on which I settled, has another problem not related to the complexity issues just noted. Many people may not be prepared to accept that the life goal of each person is to optimally increase the accumulation of day-to-day Happiness (even as s-Evaluated solely by each for hirself) over hir lifetime even though s/he does understand and agree that hir goal is always to effect the highest Happiness that s/he can in the immediate future. However, since few of those same people will be willing to act solely hedonistically in the sense of not being at all concerned with the Happiness of the future, I think that with contemplation, in the end most will agree that, suitably discounted to the present because of the chance that it may never happen (because one's life might end, one may alter one's evaluation and decision on the basis of new evidence or something else may prevent its occurrence), working toward and then experiencing Happiness in the future (once it becomes one's present) is just as important as is experiencing Happiness in the present (precisely because time transforms that potential future into an actual present in accord with the probabilities of its happening as planned) - for more detail see Choice Annotations. Therefore, the accumulation of Happiness to optimally increase Lifetime Happiness must actually be what each human seeks.

1. Described somewhat in the Introductory Annotation Comments for the NSC, but more fully detailed in the essay: "Social Meta-Needs: A New Basis for Optimal Interaction"

2. Section II from the essay, "Vices are Not Crimes" which was included in Prohibition: A Failure by Dio Lewis in 1875. Full text of the essay is available.

3. Exchange of Values within a human refers to the tradeoffs between negatives and positives that must be made as part of any s-Evaluation of Happiness State or any Choice Estimation of Available Actions, and for the latter as well the tradeoffs between various potential Benefits since only one Action at a time is possible.

4. Fungible means of such a kind or nature that one specimen or part may be used in place of another specimen or equal part in the satisfaction of an obligation; capable of mutual substitution.

5. See for example, Human Action: Chapter 1, Section 1.

6. While creating the Theory of Social Meta-Needs and the NSC I have become increasingly convinced that no person can have an adequate understanding about the essentials of how reality and human nature operates unless and until s/he has taken basic calculus, physics, chemistry, biology, human physiology and neuroscience. I am convinced that all humans who have the potential to be Freemen are capable of understanding these subjects sufficiently well if only they are introduced at an early enough stage in life and are clearly oriented towards the purpose of optimally increasing Lifetime Happiness.

7. An aside concerning cardinal versus ordinal: while most philosophers and psychologists appear to regard human preference rankings as purely ordinal, if one tries to picture what is going on inside the brain of any thinking person, it is clear that such a person must have a pretty fine grid for these preference rankings and that, in order to allow such Choice Estimation of Available Actions and the taking of Chosen Actions to occur, these rankings must also have a metric so they can be compared. Therefore, such a person's measuring of preferences must, in fact, define a cardinal scale. Note that, since in Reality cardinal scales are never indefinitely fine, any difference between cardinal and ordinal arises only because no metric - certainly no absolute one - has yet been devised for human mental s-Evaluating and Estimating even though one clearly must exist.