I was thinking about addiction; I've enjoyed smoking for far too long. Seems to me that the "pleasure" of smoking actually has two aspects: the feeling; and the belief that you're doing the right thing.

So these two do intimately cohere when happy; but it seems true that they can be separated out.

I also think that doing so seems more reliable, and means we can reflect not just on what is making us happy but what that happiness is like.

Has anyone, especially analytically inspired, claimed (or even better countered the claim!) that happiness has these two distinct aspects, and that treating them as such helps actually makes us more aware of how we feel (as well as how we think and behave)?

  • 2
    Not really sure what you're asking, but this sounds vaguely like a subjective fulfillment theory of happiness.
    – virmaior
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 11:06
  • ok, will take a look
    – user6917
    Commented Jul 8, 2016 at 15:57

1 Answer 1


What about dread, is that not also a coherence of belief and feeling -- just a different feeling? You might divert from happiness particularly and look at the James-Lange theory of emotion.

The distinction between exhilaration (a form of happiness) and terror (not a form of happiness) is often not clear until well after the experience, sometimes minutes later, and it can change in memory. A baby might encounter the same experience, say being dropped or thrown (yes, my people throw their children -- deduce what you may :) ) but safely caught, and end up giggling most of the time, but sometimes instead end up crying.

On that basis the theory breaks emotion into an objective physiological component (the feeling as felt) and a component of subjective labeling (belief about the feeling, which is shaped to fit together with beliefs of all other sorts.) So the emotional experience has three aspects, information -- the brain processes the situation and prepares for action, reaction -- that initiates physiological changes, and identification -- meanwhile or afterward we label the feeling.

Retroactively pushing that back on philosophy, I think Nietzsche's strange classification of "happinesses" kind of points out that any physiological emotion can be a form of happiness, given the right labeling. Glee can be fear (both raise gooseflesh), sorrow can be joy (both make you cry), depression can be 'wretched contentment' (both submerge your sense of time and values), 'gaiety/cheer' has something in common with anger (delivering energy, focussing on obstacles and destruction), passion shares aspects with a different kind of anger (energy from wallowing in deprivations and their satisfactions)...

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