In 2009 I started a series in Nederlog called GW
- favourite quotations with some explanations, notes, or comments by
me - that did not grow into much, because as it happened I wrote last
year mostly about ME, but that I continue today, because it still
seems a good series to make, that also doesn't take too much energy,
effort and time.
The reason to pick up GW
again today is mostly yesterday's "The
Principal Doctrines of Epicurus, with my comments" and my
realization that there are three favourite quotes of mine about
happiness. Here are the second and third:
The fairest thing of all
is to be just;
The best to live without disease; most sweet
Power to win each day the heart's desire.
Most noble is that which is justest, and best is
But pleasantest is it to win what we love.
-- Greek inscription at Delos
It seems to me that men (and women, and children) do
not so much want
happiness as that they desire to do as they please: They want to
do as they desire,
first and foremost, and often choose for
not necessarily so.
It is not so much happiness or
pleasure that people seek, but
power - the ability to do as they
please when they please. And indeed, it is true that the main motive for
this is that power gives greater chances for happiness, which again needs not
to be pleasure itself, but may
be any feeling of well-being produced by seeing an
end one has
It is noteworthy, not only logically speaking, that this
is second order, in the sense that it is a desire about one's desires,
and that it can be defined thus if one wants to conflate happiness and
And obviously, since this is so for each and all, and
all seem to aim at happiness thus defined, it follows
agreement are necessary for human
This also underlines the fact that what motivates men in
general, if they have sufficient
self-control, are their
values rather than
people's lifes are oriented around and directed by their
value, possibly guided and
constrained by judgments of
Finally, both quotations show the ancient Greek facility
to phrase the core of a subject clearly, without illusions, without
confusions, and without pretensions.
There is more on the basic ideas in my notes to
and to Edwards'
The Logic of
P.S. Corrections, if any are necessary, have to
be made later.