Fondazione Zoé

Thoughts on happiness in three acts. Here I published the second part…


prof. Carmelo Vigna

We often look for happiness in objects. This is our most common and most devastating error. But we get through it, after a moment of delusion, sadness and anger, like someone who has been cheated by life. We shouldn’t blame ourselves. None of these things made in our world can live up to our desire. 


Happiness comes at the cost of desire. Because of this it has all the names of desire, and desire has infinite names. They are names of that which we desire. So, being happy could be both very easy or very difficult, depending on if the object of desire is very easy or very difficult to acquire. In general, that which is easily in reach is that which is very easily lost. Moreover, we content ourselves with these ephemeral forms of happiness.

Desire wants every single thing. But soon is realises that it cannot have everything at the same time: it cannot have solitude and company together; it cannot keep difficult ways of life at the same time; it cannot concede to every friendship; it cannot do more than one task at a time. We are always forced to choose between many possible objects of desire; not only “good” and “bad” objects, but also between “good” objects pure and simple. It is not necessary just because of this, to feel condemned to unhappiness. Indeed, happiness is not a haystack filled with objects of desire. 

Happiness is desire according to an order. We cannot always sense the order between the things we desire. But often this order can be perceived in a clear enough way to take action. We only need to wait to find it, but we are always in a hurry. We want everything right now. 

The subjective order of our desires rewards us for having the object which seems closest to our true desire. And deciding what is closest to desire is also subjective. Indeed, we are satisfied more than anything by the welcoming look of an other. Because of this, we use the word happiness above all when referring to a married couple. And for this reason the deepest and most beautiful discussion of happiness comes in Solomon’s Song of Songs.  

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