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jrlewis's picture

free will and/or happiness?

Our conversation on Thursday touched on the connection between choice and happiness.  It strongly reminded me of the ending to “When Nietzsche Wept,” a novel by Irvin Yalom.  The protagonist is a depressed physician with a failing marriage.  In an attempt to explore alternatives to his current life, he asks a friend to hypnotize him.  While hypnotized he experiences leaving his wife and family, looking for love, home, and employment.  After investigating other potential lifestyles, the man chose his wife, family, and profession.  The fact that he perceived this decision as an act of free will opposed to a forced move made all the difference to him.  He was happy.  Is this true of the rest of us?  Is it the act of choice or the illusion of choice that brings us happiness?  Is it possible to tell the difference between the two?

How do I feel about moving beyond Dennet?  He tried to tell us a story about the meaning of life.  I’m not sure what there is beyond that… However, I would be willing to listen to a different story about the meaning of life.  

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