Thursday, February 2, 2012

Three Thoughts

I went through some of the comments on last week's philosophical discussion about happiness.  Here are three things that struck me.

1. There was a question about the relationship between happiness and love.  Interestingly enough, Saint Thomas Aquinas posits happiness as the main goal of humanity, while he says right actions (with a heavy emphasis on love) as the way to attain happiness.

To put this another way, the answer to the question, "What comes first, love or happiness?" seems to be love, because happiness is a direct result of love.  That's a logical enough conclusion. Surely, it can't be the other way around (love being a direct result of happiness).

2. I just want to highlight the fact that the happiness which is completely union with God involves the use of the intellect.  Religion is not just a matter of feelings; it is also a matter of thinking.

3.  Question: Is happiness an emotion or is it a chemical reaction?

I find it interesting that our society does not debate this question, but it does debate whether or not unhappiness is an emotion or chemical reaction.  Specifically, there are huge arguments over whether or not depression should be treated as a medical disease.  Usually, people who see depression as an emotional state don't think it should be treated as a disease, while people who see depression as a mere chemical reaction tend to think that it is easily "cured" with drugs or other chemicals.

I'm not sure which end of the spectrum I fall under, in this debate.  I can understand arguments for depression being a disease, or at least, a mental condition.  However, I find myself wary of people who argue that people should take happiness-inducing drugs.

That's a completely different conversation, with little relevance to the original discussion, though.  Obviously, the happiness that is union with God in Heaven is not controlled or influenced by chemicals.


sarah said...

Love does not necessarily lead to happiness. There are times when love can lead to sadness, pain, or even hatred. Love is very tricky. I believe it is the strongest feeling out there because it can cause so many other emotions and have so many outcomes.

Anonymous said...

I believe that there are different types of depression. I (and most of my family) suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder, which is caused by unbalanced chemicals in the brain, which, of course, also leads to depression. I think that this is a sort of depression that can be relieved by medication. I don't take drugs because my case isn't very acute, but my sister has had to in the past.

I also believe one can experience spiritual depression, something that has to do with one's relationship with God.

Anonymous said...

I know that love is not emotion; at least not *true love*, to use an old cliche. I have a hard time believing that love is a chemical reaction. Maybe that's what humans think love is, but that's not pure love.

To me, love is what happened when Jesus died on the cross. Love is selfless (something this country doesn't understand)

Balin said...

I agree with what Anonymous 12:22 said. I'm currently on antidepressants, and they've helped reduce my depression fairly well, but I know that just fixing the depression won't make me happy, and restoring my relationship with God (which has suffered) will. I'm trying to set up Biblical counseling, but that's been a slow process. (Could you all pray for me in this? It's been rough.)

Anonymous said...

Balin--of course, I'll pray for you. I've gone through periods of "darkness" where I want to do anything but read the Bible, want to do anything but pray. So has my mom, so has my sister, so has Martin Luther, so has pretty much every Christian out there. You'll come out on the other end of this a much stronger person in your faith. God will sustain you through this trial every step of the way, even if you feel like He isn't there anymore.