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The title actually explains it all.

If one's goal is to live one's life as a happy person, which I actually want, what would be the best course to achieve that?

I for myself could find myself getting depressed when I think too much about myself and my flaws, which are painfully obvious for one who truly tries to observe oneself, or the world. On the other hand when I do not care I find myself to be way happier.

So what leads to an objectively better and happier life and what negatives do too much or too little knowledge have?

Are there any philosophical treatments of the relation between knowledge and happiness?

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    An insightful and not difficult philosophical book recently published is Finding Meaning in an Imperfect World by Prof. Iddo Landau. Highly recommended.
    – E...
    Sep 6, 2018 at 13:04
  • @EliranH Gonna get a look at it! :)
    – MansNotHot
    Sep 6, 2018 at 13:25
  • You have to create your own "ought" i.e. Directed toward ends that you think are good. My own personal opinion is that reading history helps to inform us, but this is just my opinion. Even if there is an afterlife, still our life on earth is finite, so the second part of Heidegger's "Being and Time" may interest you. This is basically Aristotle except we must aim toward our own ends, and pethaps not to objective ends.
    – Gordon
    Sep 6, 2018 at 15:37
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    Thinking about own flaws is not the only type of acquiring knowledge. Except flaws there are many other things to know.
    – rus9384
    Sep 8, 2018 at 7:08
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    This is a an odd question The Perennial philosophy is about little else than the relationship between knowledge and happiness. Hence for practitioners it is sometimes called the pursuit of knowledge and sometime the pursuit of happiness, and it is both.
    – user20253
    Sep 8, 2018 at 12:15

3 Answers 3

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The question is about the relationship of happiness and knowledge:

So what leads to an objectively better and happier life and what negatives do too much or too little knowledge have?

There are two observations to make up-front:

  1. It is not so important the quantity of knowledge as its accuracy.
  2. Being unhappy may be a good thing if it gets one thinking about how to become happy again.

Steven Gundry illustrates the problem of inaccurate knowledge when it comes to health, which influences happiness at the bodily level, in The Plant Paradox. He offers a diet that focuses on removing proteins called lectins. These are found in whole grains which according to other diets are considered healthy. But is the information he provides accurate? Is his healthy diet better than the various other diets that pay no attention to lectins? Accurate knowledge is more important than its quantity.

Being healthy is not an on-off characteristic. Those who do not feel well will likely be searching for knowledge to help them feel better. Those who do feel fine enough may not be so motivated but accept a sub-optimal healthy state as normal until more serious problems materialize.

The same goes for emotional health. If one is subjected to what may appear to be verbal abuse either from one's family, work environment or the media, this may make one unhappy. That criticism is a kind of knowledge. What is important is not how much of it one receives, but whether it is accurate or not. If the criticism is accurate it should lead to making changes whose benefits can be measured by how happy one is after those changes.

In sum, it is not the quantity of knowledge that is important for happiness. Rather it is the accuracy of that knowledge. Being unhappy is a motivator to find a way to return to happiness that may not be present in those who have learned to tolerate a less than optimal state of happiness.


Reference

Gundry, S. R. (2017). The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in "Healthy" Foods that Cause Disease and Weight Gain. HarperCollins.

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  • I like this answer as it rings with me and has a positive note which i could use for myself. Especially the "Being unhappy may be a good thing if it gets one thinking about how to become happy again" part! :) Thanks
    – MansNotHot
    Sep 10, 2018 at 7:30
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Life has no meaning and soon you'll be dead. Cosmologically in fact very soon.. all of humanity from Bill Gates to the bloke who sold me a can of coke today.. will be a 1cm thin sliver of blackened dtrata. So prioritising personal happiness is probably as rational a decision as any. In Candide.. Voltaire says that happiness comes from physical work The brief respite from overthinking.. worry.. pain and grief that digging a deep ditch by hand brings. I'll give that opinion a 9/10. Clever people over value the intellect and under value viscera. Religion offers many pieces of good advise as to how to avoid confrontation with your conscience in later life.. worth heeding trust me. Be loyal, moral and try to have honour. Not because of other people.. but because when you're older you will thank yourself. Most of all .. understand that happiness is not a reward or a goal.. it is a way of living. You can be unhappy in a bath of champagne... Whilst others without a cup to drink from smile all day long. If you are unhappy now.. you make memories of being unhappy.. those memories drag around with you.. happy memories make present you happy.. so find joy where you can. Get quickly past setbacks.. look for the positives in everything. Most of all.. smile. Even if your teeth are bad and your boss is an ass hat. Smile while you walk. While you sit.. in solitude.. in company. Your body is just a wet.. messy machine.. smiling is the way you make the machine happy.

Ignorance is an unfair advantage when it comes to being happy. See the Lisa Simpson chart of iq to happiness levels. But I'm pretty much a nihilist.. I make Nietzsche look like Norman Wisdom. But knowing nothing matters is cathartic. You need to get right to the bottom.. the black abyss of the despair and futility of it all to realise that is the point.. there is no point.. so why choose unhappiness?

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It depends on how you want to look at it.

If you don't think of the consequences, then it's better to be ignorant. Being ignorant grants you temporary reprieve from the dreariness in life. In time, though, the consequences will still hit you whether you like it or want it or not.

I believe that it is better to be knowledgeable. Sure you might give up temporary happiness, but you won't be unhappy forever.

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  • I made an edit which you may roll back or continue editing. You can see the versions by clicking on the "edited" link. Welcome! Sep 8, 2018 at 2:25

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