The Meaning of Life

A little while ago, Tyler Cowen blogged about whether there are values more important than happiness:

“Happiness” to me sounds boring, as if the person has a limited imagination when it comes to wants and an inability to be frustrated by the difficulty of creating new peak experiences.

I think happiness is extremely important, and most people do not spend nearly enough of their life trying to be happy. But in my own values, I rank knowledge even higher. And every time I read about this topic I am reminded of one of my favorite exchanges from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

“I’d far rather be happy than right any day.”
“And are you?”
“No. That’s where it falls down, of course.”

Yet happiness is a “thick” concept. As a dear friend once put it on her now-defunct blog:

A professor once asked me, apropos of why I don’t party or why I spent Friday nights in the library or some such thing, what I thought I was, some sort of ascetic? I said that no, I was actually a hedonist. We just had very different ideas of fun.

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