Can philosophy make you happy? This interview with philosophy professor Catherine Wilson argues that philosophy, including her specialty of Epicureanism, can provide a framework for finding happiness.
"Happiness, considered as a feeling, is episodic, and you get it from being in a certain situation, doing certain things. Does reason tell you what those things are? No: immediate experience does. Further, reason encourages worrying, which doesn’t make you so happy. ... [B]oth philosophy and the arts say essentially: ‘You are not alone. Others have thought and worried about this too.’ They connect you to your species; theoretically and emotionally, and this can give you encouragement and consolation. So no philosophy can tell you anything you don’t already know about how to have happy experiences, but systematic philosophies like Epicureanism or Stoicism or Kantianism offer orientation. Each has a distinctive way of relating what it thinks is the way the world is to what ought to be the way it is and to what you ought to do. ... The Epicureans I study, after assuring you that you are going to be pulverized into atoms at some point like every other object in nature, argue that hedonism tempered by prudence and morality is the way to go in the meantime."
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