Monday, June 8, 2015

The Study of Happiness, A Dissertation Proposal

"The happiest person I know is my father. In happiness research, we distinguish several philosophical approaches to the notion of happiness (Haybron, 2000). I will examine three distinct paths of inquiry before formulating my dissertation thesis.

While in colloquial parlance “happiness” typically signifies a psychological state, Aristotelian happiness raises a question of societal values: how a person’s well-being compares to that of his or her neighbors, how enviable his life is. A person’s entire character is at stake, and lifetime is but an opportunity to build an estimable reputation. “Count no man happy until he’s dead,” Solon, an Athenian thinker, advised.

My father, a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford, in his forties started building and installing solar photovoltaic panels for businesses and homes in the burgeoning Silicon Valley. At the beginning, his company survived off research grants and boutique contracts, for example, designing solar panels for an auto race across the Australian outback. In the past fifteen years, as the costs of energy skyrocketed, his contracts grew exponentially and now include universities, banks, trucking companies, national store chains, auto manufacturers, and various government agencies. Two years ago, the company went public, and since then its stock quintupled in value. . . ."

Read the continuation of this story in Redivider 12.2, now available for purchase.

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