For this inquiry we could also go in the one hundred and eighty
degree opposite direction and inquire instead "What is
un‑happiness?". Then, once we've fleshed out what
unhappiness is, isn't happiness simply the absence of unhappiness?
Isn't happiness simply not unhappiness?
Well, isn't it? Maybe, maybe not ... but it's
yes? Yes, and to keep this simple, let's stay with "What is
happiness?" and its related form "What makes you happy?" because
there's a powerful distinction I'd like to reveal from them - from
the related form, in particular.
It's easy enough to go to
and read its definition of happiness. If we do, we'll get the
answer to "What is happiness?". But we're looking here to inquire
into what happiness is, rather than to merely come up with the
answer. And the trouble with coming up with the answer is it's only
one measly answer ... whereas if we stay in the
inquiry, we'll come up with lots and lots and lots of
we could also form the question as "What is happiness for
you?" which is actually better suited to an inquiry in
which anyone can
and thereby each make a personal contribution.
It's the question "What makes you happy?" in particular which
me - much more in fact than "What is happiness?" or "What is
unhappiness?" or even "What is happiness for you?". It brings an
edge to this inquiry: if happiness is defined in terms of what
makes us happy, then without that which makes us
happy, can we be happy? In other
without that which makes us happy, what's the possibility of
happiness? That's the implication of "makes" as in "makes
us happy". Now that's an inquiry. It's pertinent. It
me. A lot.