What Right Do You Have to Be Happy?

Seriously . . .

Douglas Giles, PhD


It's Monday night. I've finished teaching my ethics class. We covered Kant this week — he who said that acts of kindness performed because one finds an inner satisfaction in spreading joy have no true moral worth. No, Kant said, the only acts that have genuine moral worth are those performed only from duty and without any inclination or sentiment. One needs a stiff drink after three hours of that.

23 February 2022, before the news broke


I've gone out for food and drink after class for years. It's my only alone time, and the Spouse doesn't mind having the house to herself for the evening. Tonight I went to the Lasagnaria, where they unsurprisingly serve lasagna. and just lasagna. I went there as a bit of a homage.

I sat in the seat I was at the night of 23 February 2022. It was there that I read on my tablet the news bulletins--”all Russian troops have left their staging areas and are moving toward the Ukrainian border.” All Russian troops.

It was not a surprise, but it was still staggering news. All hope for peace was now gone. I knew that tens of thousands of people were going to die (I drastically underestimated). Around me, people went on with their meals. Normal night. Ignorance is, if not bliss, at least contentment. My lasagna, as good as it was, was no solace.

"'Tis Not Contrary to Reason . . ."

When I teach about Kant’s ethical system, I mention that he was responding to the philosophy of David Hume. On ethics, Hume had said,

’Tis not contrary to reason (he says) to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. - Hume, A Treatise on Human Nature

Yeah, why should we give a frell about anyone else? There is nothing in logic that tells us we should care for anyone else. Objective reason seems to confirm that only oneself matters. To hell with everyone else; just ask Ayn Rand, Vladimir Putin, and every other asshole ever.



Douglas Giles, PhD

Philosopher by trade & temperament, professor for 21 years, bringing philosophy out of its ivory tower and into everyday life. https://linktr.ee/dgilesphd