Conditions of Happiness, Kluwer Academic, 1984, Dordrecht/Boston.
Abstract Chapter 2
The term happiness has different meanings. In current scientific language it refers to
various states of being that are considered 'good' for people as well as to different
pleasurable states of mind. Here the term refers to an attitude towards one's own life.
Happiness is defined as the degree to which an individual's overall evaluation of his
life-as-a-whole concludes positively. As such happiness is an experience which only
creatures of consciousness can undergo. It is an essentially experiential phenomenon which
cannot be dentified with particular external conditions or with a way of life.
THE CONCEPT OF HAPPINESS
'Overall' judgements of life are presumed to draw upon more specific appraisals. Two of
these seem especially relevant. The first is 'hedonic level of affect': the degree to
which affective experience is dominated by pleasantness during a certain period. The
second is 'contentment': the degree to which an individual perceives his conscious aims to
be achieved. I refer to these appraisals as the 'affective' and the 'cognitive' component
of happiness respectively. Happiness is not necessarily stable: people may change their
attitudes towards life. Neither are happiness judgements always definite, nor does a
persons' appreciation of life necessarily match with ethical standards.
Happiness, as defined here, must be distinguished from what is commonly referred to by
terms like 'well-being', 'quality of life', 'morale', 'mental health' and 'adjustment'.
However, all these terms are used in varying ways. Some of their meanings do fit the
object of this study.
Finally it must be observed that the phenomenon called 'happiness' here is currently given
other names as well. Terms like 'life-satisfaction', and 'psychological well-being'
sometimes cover the same notion.