ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Idea of Happiness

The idea of happiness has changed. It has emerged as a measurable, autonomous, manageable, psychological variable in the global middle-class culture. The self-conscious, determined search for happiness has gradually transformed the idea of happiness from a mental state to an objectified quality of life that can be attained the way an athlete after training under specialists and going through a strict regimen of exercises and diet wins a medal in a track meet. Might it be that the sense of well-being of a mentally healthy person shows its robustness by being able to live with some amount of unhappiness and what is commonly seen as ill-health?

This is based on the 13th Kappen Memorial Lecture, delivered at Bangalore on 22 September 2011. It has grown out of a trialogue among Tamotsu Aoki, Nur Yalman, and the author, organised some years ago by Iwanami Shoten at Tokyo. The discussion spilled into a conference on “Culture and Hegemony: Politics of Culture in the Age of Globalisation”, organised by GRIPS project of the University of Tokyo and by the Institut fur Ethnologie, Ruprecht-Karls-Universit, Heidelberg, and into a small article published in Spanish in an Yearbook.

What good is happiness if it cannot buy you money?

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