1. Dimensions and Objects of Happiness
Happiness has been the object of an enormous amount of philosophical reflection for a very long time. More recently, it has also been the object of a great deal of empirical work. Some of the philosophical or conceptual questions which have been raised are: What sort of an affective episode is happiness, the sort of thing which may but need not be felt at a time? What is the relation between happiness as an affective episode, and happiness as an enduring state or disposition? Is happiness, understood as an affective episode, ever an emotion?
If so, what is its object, what is it about? Is happiness invariably a good thing? In what follows, I shall put forward and argue for some answers to these questions. I shall consider the last three questions in greater detail than the others since it seems to me that they have been neglected in the philosophy and science of happiness. My answers to these three questions rely on a number of assumptions which I shall make explicit but which must here remain mere assumptions. Is happiness always a positive emotion? Consider two fairly clear cases of happiness. Sam, who has just fallen in love, is blissfully happy. Roger, a religious believer who loves his God and takes himself to be loved in return, is blissfully happy. The first case is sometimes described as a state of felicity, the second as a state of beatitude. And both may be described in German as examples of Glückseligkeit. Bliss is positive, if anything is. But are the two examples of bliss examples of positive emotions?