Values of happiness

Harry Walker, Iza Kavedžija


How people conceive of happiness reveals much about who they are and the values they hold dear. The modern conception of happiness as private good feeling is the result of a long sequence of changes in dominant conceptions of the ends of life and of humanity’s place in the cosmos. This invites reflection on how the very vagueness of happiness can account for its powerful claim to render diverse values commensurable. In arguing for the importance of a critical, ethnographic approach to happiness— one concerned less with gauging how happy people are than with how happiness figures as an idea, mood, or motive in everyday life—we highlight its relationship to values, as well as questions of scope, virtue, and responsibility. Whether real or elusive, the pursuit of happiness structures time in specific ways and is largely other-oriented, insofar as one’s own happiness would seem best left in the hands of others.


happiness, values, moral judgment, wellbeing, moral moods, purpose in life, temporality

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14318/hau5.3.002