No Man is an Island

And perhaps a major source of the pervasive unhappiness in society is that the powers that be are attempting to cultivate and foster a kind of human being and a kind of human identity that ultimately cannot be cultivated and fostered, namely, a human being and a human identity that wields a kind of “Artificial General Intelligence” which “Artificial Intelligence” itself does not wield. It is perhaps an outlandish and stupid expectation on the part of the military and big tech that people be shaped in the image of “Artificial General Intelligence,” whatever that kind of intelligence may be. No one knows what goes on in these people’s minds, quite frankly. And as Bertrand Russell once noted:

“One of the causes of unhappiness among intellectuals in the present day is that so many of them, especially those whose skill is literary, find no opportunity for the independent exercise of their talents, but have to hire themselves out to rich corporations directed by Philistines, who insist upon their producing what they themselves regard as pernicious nonsense.”

And in regards to the true feelings of the media personality and journalist in America and England, Russell wrote:

“If you were to inquire among journalists in either England or America whether they believed in the policy of the newspaper for which they worked, you would find, I believe, that only a small minority do so; the rest, for the sake of a livelihood, prostitute their skill to purposes which they believe to be harmful.” 

Russell added: “Such work cannot bring any real satisfaction, and in the course of reconciling himself to the doing of it, a man has to make himself so cynical that he can no longer derive whole-hearted satisfaction from anything whatever.” 

Nevertheless, and ultimately, the majority of people outside of what we would deem as the small group and minority ‘intelligentsia’ in society will act one way or another in order to achieve happiness, despite the obstacles that are put forth to them, given that “there exists such intense happiness in acting that the actor…will accept that all the odds are stacked against him.” 

Moreover, there is no uniform notion of happiness, which means that the assessments and notions of risk and the goals which are set in relation to the assessments and notions of risk will differ from one individual to another. But regardless of the goals and the risks which one takes on in order to achieve happiness, there is a logic and method behind the pursuit of happiness which one cannot discount. As one Catholic monk by the name of Thomas Merton wrote: “We cannot be happy if we expect to live all the time at the highest peak of intensity. Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.” 

Merton then struck an analogy between happiness and music, when he wrote: “Music is pleasing not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it: without the alternation of sound and silence there would be no rhythm.” But while there are individual pursuits towards happiness, these individual pursuits are then brought together and are made comprehensive by the fact that happiness is the telos of mankind and in turn the collective end of human history. As the British poet and scholar John Donne said: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” Hence, the game theory proposition that everything we do is a “best response” to what others are doing, and that everything we do is affected by others and in turn others are affected by what we do as individuals.  

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