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?
closed as not constructive by stoicfury Aug 27 '12 at 4:56
As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.
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...