Daniel Kahneman - Happiness and the Tyranny of the Remembering Self

Happiness is a strange concept: everyone wants to be happy, but no one really knows what happiness is. In philosophy, we sometimes talk about incorrigible phenomenological states: mental states about which you could not possibly be wrong. If you have an experience of dating Megan Fox, for instance, you'd probably be hallucinating or dreaming-unless she's two-timing me :), but if you feel you're in pain, you're in pain, and you can't be deluded about that. This raises the question: is happiness an incorrigible phenomenological state? Are you happy if you think you're happy? Or can you think you're happy and not be happy? And what on earth can this have to do with colonoscopies?

In this fascinating presentation, Daniel Kahneman, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics, discusses the difficulty with understanding (and achieving) happiness. As it turns out, when it comes to happiness, you are divided between a remembering self and an experiencing self, and whenever their interests conflict, guess who's not going to be happy? :)


So there you have it, folks: next time you're getting a colonoscopy, ask your doctor to leave the tube in for just a little bit longer and maybe wiggle it slightly :)
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