Happiness, Meaning, Tied to Biology

Over the history of man, philosophers have debated the meaning of life and attempted to define happiness.  I posit that the key to happiness is in biological fulfillment.  We have a gift of a mind that leads us to believe we have free will.  To some extent our will is free.  But to a large extent, and for practical purposes, it is not.  We live to fulfill our biological needs. It sounds obvious, because it is.  Without fulfilling our biological needs, we can not survive, so it makes sense that our brains and bodies are hard wired to constantly be seeking that biological satisfaction.  What is that biological satisfaction?  We can start with the basics.  We need food.  Food and water.  Oxygen.   A human can survive 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food.  Regardless of conscious choice, all humans will seek out food, water, and oxygen.  Shelter and clothing help us to survive. Sex is a biological need.  Social and family companionship are biological needs.  Good health is a biological need.    Bad health leads to an early death.

Happiness is linked to the degree to which these biological needs are satisfied.   If you have to go days without food or water, then you are less happy than if you eat three square meals a day.  If your three meals a day are bread and water, you are less happy than if your meals consist of a variety of choices.  If you breath dirty air, you are less happy than if you breath fresh air.  If you live in a shack, you are less happy than if you live in a mansion.  You feel safer and more comfortable in a mansion and more likely to survive the elements.

The purposes we seek out in life are really just means to acquire and satisfy those biological needs.  Satisfying those biological needs brings us happiness.  If one becomes a doctor, one is likely to earn more money, thus affording more meals, nicer shelter, and a more comfortable biologically satisfactory life.  Having access to more meals, nicer shelter, and a comfortable life also attracts a sexual mate who desires those things as well.  Thus, achieving the successful career also assists in satisfying the sexual biological need.

Humans come in a wide variety of abilities.  These abilities are our biological nature.  Our DNA. Some humans are naturally more intelligent than others.  Some humans are naturally more physically strong and coordinated than others.  Some humans are great at science while others are better at cooking.  Some humans have higher IQs than others.  Achieving happiness then, is also tied to discovering what our natural biological gifts are and utilizing them in the best way to achieve our other biological needs.   If you ask a fish to climb a tree, that fish will not be happy because it is not biologically capable.  It will constantly struggle to achieve that goal, making it less happy than if it were tasked to do what it is biologically good at, swimming.



Greed Begets Greed


The environment selects for those traits that are better able to survive and perpetuates those traits.  That is natural selection.  Our society through its policies, laws, and behaviors selects for those people who are greedy.  (Some call this artificial selection)  We allow people to earn as much as they want and spend it how they please.  Those who earn the most are better able to survive and pass on their genes, thus perpetuating their genes.  So our society, by rewarding greed, artificially selects for that trait, thereby perpetuating it.  Greedy people will have more children exhibiting the greedy trait until the entire population is made up of greedy people.  The extent of the greed will grow too, because those who are the most greedy will pass on the most genes.  People should look at which traits they want to see survive and set up policies that promote those traits/behaviors.  I would suggest greed is not one of them.

Support or Distrust Our Troops? Which is it?

So when George W. Bush was President he took us to war against Iraq under false pretenses.  He said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.   It’s not clear how it followed even if you accepted that premise as true that we needed to go to war with Iraq.   Nonetheless, what we saw a lot of during that war were signs and people saying “Support Our Troops.”   That always made me feel odd.   Whoever came up with that slogan was a genius.   Why?  Because even if you were against the war, like many were, how could you possibly wish ill on our troops?   We supported our troops under the assumption that they don’t have a choice in their mission.  We assumed that when they sign up to serve our country they must serve in whatever capacity our military leaders dictate.  Assuming that to be true, how could one not support them in the sense that, we don’t want them to die in whatever mission they are given, even if it is an ill conceived mission.   That said, if you expressed dissent against the war, people liked to assume that you didn’t support our troops, an appalling notion.

Now Barack Obama is President.  Now we read a very different story.  We don’t see the “support our troops” slogans anymore.   What we do see are stories about Jade Helm.  Jade Helm is apparently simply a training mission for our troops that is taking place partially in Texas.   The federal government is trying to prepare the troops for terrain they are likely to encounter abroad.   It seems that suddenly in the context of Jade Helm, we don’t support our troops.  Now we fear that Obama is preparing to turn them against us to impose martial law and take over the Texas state government.   The notion is absurd.  But apparently  39 percent of Texas registered voters believe in this conspiracy theory.   See  http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2015/07/12/us/12reuters-usa-military-texas.html  And so the question from above reasserts itself in a different context.  When you say “support our troops” in this context, it doesn’t quite work the same way as it did with the war in Iraq?  Why is that?  The Jade Helm conspiracy theorists are not saying support our troops in a mission to take over the states.  In fact, the very same troops we were told to support in Iraq are the ones Texas Governor Abbott is monitoring by use of the Texas State Guard.  To what end?   Is Abbott prepared to go to war against the same troops we were told to support?

So what we are left with then is the conclusion that what mission our troops are embarking upon does matter.   We don’t support our troops in just any circumstance or any mission they are given.  It’s okay then, to be against the war in Iraq, and say you don’t support the troops in that mission.  Just as its okay to say you  don’t support the troops in a mission to take over the states.

All of this begs another question.  Why are Republicans so gung-ho about going to war under false pretenses?  First Iraq and now Jade Helm.   Perhaps that’s a question for another article.