I don't know if this goes under philosophy, but I made an account here because I got really curious about this. I feel like the more materialistic society gets, we get less and less happy, but I am really not too sure how to explain that, just a guess. What do you think?

  • As I explained below (comment grew too long), this isn't really a philosophy concern. You seem to recognize that, and I tried my best to sort of work through some of the complexities of the issue below in my CW answer, but until you can show how philosophy proper can really help here, I'm going to close this question. – stoicfury Aug 27 '12 at 4:55
  • @stoicfury I can just delete it. Sorry about that. – Sidd Singal Aug 27 '12 at 4:58
  • Well, all is not lost. If you are still looking for clarification, consider dropping a message in the chat room and people will get back to you over the next few days as they stop by and see it. Chat is more suited for these kind of broad discussions and can help focus a concern that is otherwise unsuitable for the site. :) – stoicfury Aug 27 '12 at 5:59

This isn't philosophy, it is history, albeit probably a very largely unexplored question in history. Measuring "happiness" is hard to do even in our current, let alone at multiple different points in our historical past. Think about what that would mean, to measure happiness. As a psychologist, I can assure you that simply handing out a survey and asking whether people are happy or not is not going to cut it. People are moody, for one; at one point during they day they might cheer "yes, I'm happy" and another they may grumble, "No, I'm not happy". Two, people are not good at reading themselves, and this notion of happiness even for those who are is maldefined. Would it mean happiness in general? While some people might say they are unhappy, can we really say that they are truly unhappy? First world people that complain of their "unhappy lives" look as whining children in comparison to the daily struggles of millions of impoverished people around the world. Those people, if anything, should be the unhappy ones. And yet they often face their experiences with great courage and try to enjoy life as best they can.

But it's even more complicated than that. With modern medicine and treatment, we have expanded the length of the human lifetime; that gives them more time to be happy or sad. Do we measure happiness as some sum of happy things in ones life with the unhappy things subtracting from the total (since you want to say we are more or less happy at these points in time)? But with longer lives we could have more total happy events, so that would throw things off.

Those issues are just at the tip of the iceberg here. Now imagine doing that for people 1000 years ago, and again 10000 years ago, both peoples so very distant from our understanding. Records of history were bad going back 100 years, let alone 1000, I wouldn't even know where to begin looking for the relevant data...

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