Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Rightly Ordered and Disciplined Happy Society

The other day I started what I think will become a major thread of "exploring the happy society," by arguing that

The quest for the happy society begins with the courage to proclaim that the world is better off now than it ever has been, and is getting better.

Regular reader ceemac asked this rich question: "I am curious how your concept of 'happy society' either meshes with or conflicts with the Calvinist quest for a society that is 'rightly ordered and disciplined.'"

My short answer is that a rightly ordered and disciplined society is one in which people are free to pursue what makes them happy.

I will go further to claim that most people, if free to choose, will get sick of the lower pleasures and work their way toward the higher ones.

I believe that there are lower and higher forms of happiness. I think Aristotle is right that contemplation is, or is the form of, the highest happiness. I think that Thomas Aquinas is right that what we contemplate in the highest happiness is the beatific vision.

Few people will reach that highest happiness in this life. But a rightly ordered and disciplined society can help people develop habits that lead toward virtues - and therefore happiness. How, exactly, people reach the contemplation of the divine is, I believe, beyond what any merely social theory can explain.

2 comments:

go4download said...
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ceemc said...

A rich questions ...hmmmmm

A more pedestrian question: How are you defining happy? I have a hunch you are using this as a technical sociological term with a specific meaning in that context.

By the way if I had a blog I'd probably call it The Grumpy Puritan*

*= and yet I am a liberal Democrat