Happiness: A Theory — Platonic Cavewall Scribbling

There is a fair amount of evidence that what we call happiness is simply a feature of our biology that promotes replication. To accept that key aspects of ourselves have arisen from their role in replication is nothing more than recognizing that what is alive and here probably has a long track record of successful replications, and probably has pruned out features that tend in some other direction. With our expanded cortex, we cannot resist ascribing other meanings to happiness and many other mental and physical states and concepts. The tendency of our multivariable, pancerebral neuronal modules to ascribe meaning may, on some level, be little different than a kind of platonic cave wall scribbling. A confabulation. But, if so, what a piece of artistry it is! What a piece of work is man, says a cynical Hamlet. To pursue happiness, viewed in this light, is to grab onto something pleasurable and divert it to our own purpose, not unlike a settler tapping into a western stream. What Hamlet briefly forgot, and what we all may seek to remember, is that one of the routes we may go in this diversion is to contemplate the evidence, gaze upon this cranial vernissage, and never stop marvelling at our good fortune that we are here, past the guard, with an inexhaustible treasure of master works before us.



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