Is Happiness the Goal of Life?

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Hugh Taft-Morales

Leader, Philadelphia Ethical Society

From ancient Aristotle to contemporary self-help books, many have argued that the goal of life is happiness. Leading 19th century agnostic, Robert Ingersoll, proclaimed, “Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so.” Is he correct?  How does this fit in with Ethical Humanism’s emphasis on social justice?  Can it support our version of the golden rule, where we bring out the best in others and thus in ourselves?  [NOTE: In the newsletter this summer, Hugh asked “where and when do you find your ‘happy place’ that affords time for reflection and healing? Where do you find ‘sanctuary’ from the wearing and brutal world we’ve been dropped into? Be prepared to share your responses to those questions at our Sunday morning programs on Nov. 5 and Nov. 19.]