The Pursuit of Happiness

Posted by: | Posted on: September 12, 2008

Abstract

The pursuit of happiness has been critical in human society. Essentially, many scholars have explored and defined it in various approaches. Some are theoretical, some are empirical, and some are practical.  Abraham Maslow has been considered the father of humanistic psychology and well-known for his conceptualization of a “hierarchy of human needs”.  But Manfred Max Reef, a Chilean economist and philosopher has argued the fundamental human needs are non-hierarchical, and ontologically universal and invariant in nature. Neuroscientist Professor Richard Davidson in Wisconsin University found the truth in his experimental lab about “the pursuit of happiness” persuasively spread worldwide. The three scholars tirelessly demonstrated their belief to address happiness for human beings.

This paper searches the correlation findings of these three scholars in comprehending fundamental needs of human being, handling with life, and pursing happiness. The methodology is epistemologically and qualitatively conducting. Four stages will be attentively debated; generalization the discovery each of these three scholars, comparative reflection of their studies, religious perspectives on happiness, and meditation as a tool.

This study might not able to offer the complete answer of “the pursuit of happiness”, but at least it can provide insightful perspectives of life explained by these three well-known scholars. In complimenting this, the philosophy and practice of meditation will be partly addressed. Meditation is a tool, mentioned by Professor Richard Davidson, to achieve his lab research on the question “what is happiness?”

Summary:

Abraham Maslow categorized basic human needs the most primitive needs to the least needs such as physiological, safety, love or belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. But Manfred Max-Neef criticized Maslow’s as there is no hierarchy at all for the human needs; and he suggested “satisfactoriness” as the main manifestation to happiness. Richard Davidson in his experimental lab found that matured, experienced monks in practicing meditation are full of happiness. This research tries to take in light of those three discoveries without inserting any criticism or recommendation.