Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, April 20, 2015

Utilitarianism: How Happiness Works

  The ideas behind utilitarianism state that all human activity is in some way centered around providing happiness.  A true utilitarian would say that anything that brings them happiness would be considered a good thing.    To better understand the mind of a utilitarian, think about what happiness really is.  Is it just an emotion?  Is it a fleeting feeling that comes and goes, or does happiness run a little deeper than that? During a time of happiness, there is much more happening in your body than you may imagine.  The feeling of happiness is not simply a feeling, but a whole system of chemical reactions taking place in the body to promote seeking well being.  Seven major chemicals are the “happy fuel” for your body.
Perhaps the most well known of the happy chemicals are endorphins.  Endorphin translates into “self-produced morphine.”  Endorphins are commonly known as “The Pain-Killing Molecule.”  They are produced in the pituitary gland during periods of physical exertion.  Endorphins help us naturally cope with injury as well as give the “runner’s high” associated with exercise.  The next chemical is adrenaline, “The Energy Molecule.”  Adrenaline is the chemical associated with feelings of energy and alertness caused by exciting, scary, or threatening events.  It is the hormone that activates the fight or flight response.  GABA is the exact opposite of adrenaline, causing feelings of well-being and calmness.  GABA is responsible for what is known as “The Relaxation Response.”  A release of GABA into the body would relieve anxiety or feelings of discontent.  Oxytocin is a hormone that is linked with human bonding, love, and trust.  It is what drives our desire for intimacy and friendship.  Dopamine, the reward molecule, is what controls all reward and pleasure driven behaviors.  It is what gives us the feeling of satisfaction after completing a difficult task or achieving a goal.  Endocannabinoids are molecules that provide blissful or uplifted feelings.  Although cannabinoids are typically associated with the cannabis plant, there are just as many, even many of the same, produced in the human body naturally.  The most general chemical responsible for happiness is Serotonin.  Serotonin is active in mood changes, reward, and curing anxiety.

Section 8-1 Wesley Cloud

1 comment:

  1. The biochemical account of happiness, in terms of serotonin etc., is one level of description. Another is the surge of subjective satisfaction I get from a long walk, or at a ballgame, or when reading/writing/talking philosophy. It's important to MY happiness, and I think to OURS, that we not reduce one level to another. Brains aren't happy, people (who are of course substantially inseparable from their brains) are.