TRINPsite, 56.39.3-56.39.3 





Smart hedonists and eudaimonists of an antineutralist complexion will already have argued that since the happiness-catena is apparently a basic catena, the neutralist, at least the active one, should strive for nanhappiness and the minimization not only of unhappiness but also of happiness. From a neutralist point of view it is indeed obvious that not only unhappiness can never be a perfective end in itself but happiness not either, let alone an ultimate one. So far we can agree with the hedonist and the eudaimonist on neutralism; and so far we must reject the hedonist's and eudaimonist's own doctrines, in which pleasure and happiness are believed to be perfective ends. Yet, those who are even smarter than the hedonist with 'er ultimate pleasure and the eudaimonist with 'er ultimate happiness, realize that from the fact that pleasure and happiness are not ultimate or perfective ends, it cannot be inferred that the neutralist, or even the active neutralist, must strive for nanhappiness. The suggestion that the position of the happiness catena is not different from that of any other basic catena, like the longitude catena, for instance, is a very questionable one. For it is no coincidence that throughout history happiness (but also indifference to pleasure and pain) has been treated as an important value. Or, if not as a value, the reward of all those who lived a virtuous life in terms of the ideological or philosophical system of thought in question. Thus before pronouncing ourselves upon the implications of the norm of neutrality for happiness-catenals, it will be worth our while to first take a closer, nonnormative look at the happiness-catenal and 'er situation.

It may be assumed that the factors which determine a sentient being's behavior also determine its happiness-catenary, emotional state. These factors are the totality of internal and external stimuli, and it is these stimuli which constitute a happiness-catenal's situation. This 'situation' must be distinguished, however, from the catenal's 'condition'. (Of course, it is not so much the terms situation and condition themselves which count here.) A condition is a set of predicates (propositional or nonpropositional) at a particular time and place, regardless of whether and how the catenal in question experiences them. A catenal's situation, on the other hand, only consists of those predicates which have an impact on its behavior in a psychological sense, or on its happiness-catenality in a catenical sense. This notion of situation should not be understood too narrowly: it does not only encompass 'objective reality' but all stimuli, whether objective or subjective, measurable or immeasurable, real or imaginary. A situational stimulus may thus be a mere fantasy, while the sentient being concerned has the idea that the stimulus comes from the object fancied. Furthermore, it is of paramount importance that one realizes that the situation of a catenal does not encompass changes in stimuli. Changes in types of stimulus and changes in stimulus intensities must be expressed in concepts like situational change.

Every situation will have numerous, if not innumerable, aspects. Here we can confine ourselves to the catenical aspects of situations. This means that every situation is negative, neutral (or in practise probably perineutral) or positive for each aspect separately, and in its totality. In everyday language, however, people usually only speak of "bad" and "good situations". If not normative, terms like bad and good are at least evaluative. Since we are particularly interested in the relationship between situational catenality and happiness-catenality the question therefore arises if bad does here, perhaps, correspond to unhappy or accompanied by unhappiness and good to happy or accompanied by happiness. A bad situation would, then, be a situation in which the catenal is unhappy, and a good situation one in which it is happy. At first sight this proposition might not look like a bad guess but the underlying presupposition is actually a very implausible one. The presupposition in question is that the relationship between happiness-catenary and situational catenality would be absolute in that one particular happiness-catenary predicate corresponded (albeit for each catenal individually) to one particular situational predicate. This one particular situational predicate would not be a degree of goodness (as goodness and badness are only projected onto each separate, situational catena), but it would be a predicate corresponding to a certain empirical or psychological quantity. On the absolutist view the happiness-catenal would thus have to become happier and happier by increasing that quantity forever. Its happiness would become infinite (or would at least continue to approximate a maximum value) if one could manage to make this quantity infinite; and not only that: its happiness would remain infinite so long as the situation also remained the same.

Granted that happiness is a positive predicate, a 'good situation' is on the absolutist view a positive situation (both in the catenical and in an evaluative sense). A 'bad situation' is, then, a negative one; and between these two there is supposed to be some situation which is neither good nor bad, that is, neutral or perineutral. Every original situational catena would thus correspond to both an auxiliary goodness series (an explicit triad with goodness as pseudopositivity) and the happiness catena. Now, if the relationship between happiness-catenary and situational catenality is taken to be relative, happiness does not correspond with some positive or good situation but rather with the improvement of the catenal's situation. (Happiness is then not so much a question of having something worthwhile, but of getting something worthwhile.) Unhappiness is on this relative reckoning a feeling accompanying a worsening of situation; and nanhappiness the indifference when a situation does not change at all. The improvement cannot be an 'improvement' in the sense of maximization tho, for this would mean that however intense an empirical or psychological stimulus were, it would always be an improvement to make it even more intense. If the relative conception is to be more plausible than the absolute one, the improvement must be a situational neutralization at least when solely considering negativity and positivity as improper predicates and not all the individual proper predicates constituting them. (If we took proper negativities and positivities into account, the aspectual value could lie anywhere between 0 and one of the extremes, but our and our opponent's concern is, first of all, whether the aspectual value should be 0 or extreme.)

If situational neutralization is improvement, accompanied by happiness, and if one does want to speak of "a good situation", this situation is nothing else than the neutral one. Since there is usually (or always?) no sharp boundary between negative and positive, situational catenality, this means in practise that the perineutral situation is the good one. Bad is, then, any situation which is (not perineutral and) negative or positive in catenical terms. Every original situational catena corresponds on this view to an auxiliary badness series (with badness as pseudo-bipolarity) but not to a happiness catena. It is the neutrality-differentiation or neutrality-differential catena of the original situational catena which corresponds to the happiness catena!

But how plausible is it that situational catenas are not goodness but badness catenas with a good situation (or fuzzy situational border) between negatively bad situations on the one hand and positively bad ones on the other? We are not capable here of calculating this plausibility, but the character of the situational catena is definitely badness-catenary instead of goodness-catenary in cases like the following:

  1. both far-sightedness and near-sightedness are instances of a bad eyesight; as far as this aspect is concerned, having good eyes is the limit case between far-sightedness and near-sightedness; (no sentient being is happy simply because it has good eyes; only being confronted with another being which has bad eyes, or the possibility of having bad eyes, makes it happy, when realizing that it has something more; becoming far- or near-sighted makes it unhappy; being far- or near-sighted makes unhappy when confronted with what it misses or with situational deterioration in other respects as a result of bad eyesight);
  2. healthy is the human or other sentient being which is neither too light nor too heavy, neither too thin nor too fat, neither too short nor too tall or long; perhaps, it is impossible to say what the right weight, girth and height are supposed to be, but 'everyone' agrees that there is both a minimum below and a maximum above which every weight, girth or height is not indicative of well-being anymore;
  3. for our comfort we reject a temperature and humidity which are too low, and we reject a temperature and humidity which are too high; when we talk about "nice weather", it is neither too cold nor too hot and neither too dry nor too humid;
  4. the relationship of the fool (the person with an abnormal lack of intelligence or talents) with 'er surroundings is more difficult than normal, and so is the relationship of the genius (the person with an abnormal intelligence or abnormal talents) with 'er surroundings; the person who is neither a fool nor a genius will have the least difficulty in adjusting to the social milieu of 'er community or society, as far as this aspect is concerned;
  5. a good public performance is not so much a question of being completely free from tension but of properly regulating one's tension; when a person has too little tension, energy and concentration will be lacking, and 'er performance will be very dull; when 'e has too much tension, 'e is nervous and prone to forgetfulness and black-outs; when 'er level of tension is neither too low nor too high, the performer is capable of showing the right concentration and the right amount of attention for 'er public; physiologically speaking, some arousal is good but only to a certain degree or optimum; both below and above this optimum the quality of a performance will be worse.

What favors the relative conception of the relationship between situation and happiness-catenality too is the argument from the possible function of happiness-catenality It is reasonable to believe that sentient beings are happiness-catenal in the first place because happiness and unhappiness are situational signs. It seems hardly to make sense tho that sentient beings should be reminded indefinitely of their having good eyesight, of their having the right weight, girth and height, of their suitable microclimate, and so on and so forth. Instead, it is reasonable to suppose that they should be warned of worsening situations only, and that they should be shown the way to situations which are better only. Unhappiness is then a sign of the deterioration, and happiness of the amelioration of a catenal's situation as experienced. Granted that this view is correct, the happiness catena itself is, as it were, the litmus paper indicator of situational neutrality-differentiation catenality: happiness is litmus paper turned red in situations of improvement, whereas unhappiness is litmus paper turned blue in situations of worsening. But this implies that the happiness catena is in practise not a separate, basic catena, and this implies that an individual's happiness is an inherent indication of the very neutralization of this individual's situation.

Now, it is easy to think of many instances in which an individual's condition is not good, nor improving, but in which such an individual is or feels happy nevertheless. Such instances, however, are not counterexamples, because we have solely been speaking about the catenal's situation that is, its condition as experienced or felt by itself. This does not make it impossible that by a general, objective standard the catenal's condition is bad or deteriorating, altho the catenal does not believe or feel so. To emphasize the general standard instead is to emphasize not the catenal's own happiness but something different altogether. This conflict does certainly not exist when the catenal in question is a person who makes that standard 'er own one, and who feels happy when something improves in terms of that standard. Such a person is indeed every doctrine's ideal adherent, if the general standard is the doctrine's too; such a person is happy because 'e experiences each major, known improvement in the light of 'er doctrine's principle as an improvement of 'er own, personal situation.

©MVVM, 41-67 ASWW

Model of Neutral-Inclusivity
Book of Fundamentals
The Norm of Neutrality
Well-being, Happiness and Benificence