Move against happiness

In: Uncategorized

17 Oct 2010

Given that Richard Layard’s Movement for Happiness is due to be launched in Britain in January it makes sense to be prepared. The former government’s “happiness tsar” will no doubt attack prosperity while arguing happiness should be the over-riding goal of state policy and for individuals.

Two recent Battles in Print from the Institute of Ideas should help make the case against this unhealthy obsession with happiness. Ashley Frawley, a PhD student at the University of Kent, probes the meaning of happiness and “well-being” in the contemporary discussion. Karl Sharro, an architect, directly takes on the Movement for Happiness in a discussion that focuses on the debate in relation to architecture. Along the way he makes the important point that the notion of happiness pursued by the Movement for Happiness is, contrary to their claims, directly contrary to the spirit of the Enlightenment.

Brendan O’Neill’s recent spiked article on how the trapped Chilean miners were treated as vulnerable victims despite their admirable resilience is also relevant to the discussion.