ADVANTAGES

Why should anyone care to press such a distinction in characterizinghappiness? For most people, the hedonic difference between happiness onan emotional state versus a hedonistic view is probably minimal. Butwhile little will be lost, what will be gained? One possibility is thatthe more “central” affects involving our emotionalconditions may bear a special relation to the person or theself, whereas more “peripheral” affects, like thepleasantness of eating a cracker, might pertain to the subpersonalaspects of our psychologies. Since well-being is commonly linked toideas of self-fulfillment, this sort of distinction might signal adifference in the importance of these states. Another reason to focuson emotional condition rather than experience alone may be the greaterpsychological depth of the former: its impact on our mental lives,physiology, and behavior is arguably deeper and more pervasive. Thisenhances the explanatory and predictive significance of happiness, andmore importantly its desirability: happiness on this view is notmerely pleasant, but a major source of pleasure and other goodoutcomes (Fredrickson 2004, Lyubomirsky, King et al. 2005).Compare health on this score: while many think it matters chiefly orentirely because of its connection with pleasure, there are fewskeptics about the importance of health. As well, emotional stateviews may capture the idea that happiness concerns the individual'spsychological orientation or disposition: to be happy, on anemotional state theory, is not just to be subjected to a certainsequence of experiences, but for one's very being to manifest afavorable orientation toward the conditions of one's life—a kindof psychic affirmation of one's life. This reflects a point ofsimilarity with life satisfaction views of happiness: contra hedonism,both views take happiness to be substantially dispositional, involvingsome sort of favorable orientation toward one's life. But lifesatisfaction views tend to emphasize reflective or rationalendorsement, whereas emotional state views emphasize the verdicts ofour emotional natures.

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