Which Is More Important: Truth or Happiness?
Which is the greater goal to go after – truth or happiness? Many of us think about this issue quite a lot, so these are some points on it.
Generally, valuing happiness over truth does not mean that you must live your life like paradise ignorance, as such a state may not actually be blissful. Is it possible to be truly happy, knowing that you are ignorant of many displeasing truths? As many people know that by the sixth sense that they are ignorant.
So what will you choose? “knowing the Truth” or “being Happy.
Many people simply are not interested in learning and can find happiness elsewhere. For them, happiness would be valued more than truth, and they may argue that experiencing life is more important than understanding it. And For me practically, I don’t think I could be truly happy if I knew of my own ignorance, and if I knew that I had chosen to be that way.
So is it the truth only to be pursued for as long as it promotes happiness?
If looking for truth would make you more happy and satisfied than turning your back on it, then it would make sense to seek for truth. But then we seem to come to a contradiction, because you may not like some of the truths you find, and this could make you unhappy.
Which would make you more unhappy – to know these truths, or to be aware that there may be uncomfortable truths out there to which you are unknown? And I suppose it depends on how bad the truths are, relative to how bad you may expect them to be. And we can’t really know that unless we know these truths.
Perhaps there isn’t really a conflict here. If searching for truth makes you happy, living in ignorance is extremely likely to make you unhappy. There will be some or other way you will be caught thinking about it.
In searching for truth, you may encounter truths that may make you unhappy or devastating, but this is less likely than the practically guaranteed unhappiness obtained by a life of ignorance. And it is just as to be expected that you will encounter truths which will make you happy as it is that you will come across those which will make you unhappy.
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Happiness is sought first, and only after a “critical level” of happiness has been achieved does one have a desire for Truth. So if we simply put into other words, Happiness does seem to be a more important goal than is the Truth for nearly all people, but, once Happiness is achieved, Truth-seeking becomes more important.
Whether happiness is valued above truth, then the choice faced by someone for whom ignorance is not bliss is these:
1. Either, Live a life of ignorance which would lead to unhappiness.
2. Or, Try to find the truth, the search for which will bring both happiness and fulfillment. The truths found could bring happiness or unhappiness too.
So it would make sense for me to choose the second option!
As a general rule for living, I think this could work. There may be an oddity – after all, it’s still possible to come across a pretty devastating truth, and this may make a life of ignorance seem like bliss! I’m also presuming that truth is objective, and may be found if searched for.
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