Happiness(redirected from gladness)
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the human spirit’s consciousness of that state of being which corresponds to the greatest inner satisfaction with the conditions of one’s existence, to a full and meaningful life, and to the realization of one’s life purpose. Happiness is the emotionally sensed form of the ideal. The concept of happiness does not simply refer to a specific objective or subjective human condition, but it expresses an idea of what human life should be like and of what exactly constitutes human bliss. Thus happiness is a normative and value-bound concept. What is deemed to constitute happiness depends on how the purpose and meaning of human life are defined.
The concept of happiness has a historical and class basis. In the history of moral consciousness, happiness has been considered an innate human right; but in practice, in a society of class antagonisms, as F. Engels pointed out, the oppressed classes’ striving toward happiness has always been ruthlessly and “lawfully” sacrificed to the ruling classes’ identical striving.
In criticizing the bourgeois-individualistic interpretation of happiness, the founders of Marxism-Leninism pointed out that man’s striving exclusively toward a personal happiness, divorced from social aims, degenerates into egoism, which tramples upon the interests of others and morally cripples the human personality. As Marx wrote, “If one wishes to be an animal, one may, of course, turn one’s back on the sufferings of humanity and worry about one’s own skin” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 31, p. 454). Marx likewise rejected the leveling concepts of “barracks communism”—concepts which he described as “a return to the unnatural simplicity of man when he is poor and has no wants” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Iz rannikh proizvedenii, 1956, p. 587).
In characterizing his own personal understanding of happiness, Marx stated he saw happiness in struggle (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 31, p. 492). This concept, which is contrary to any philistine notion of happiness, does not represent some idyllic state of satisfaction with an existing situation; rather, it is the constant striving for a better future and the overcoming of obstacles on the way thereto; it is not the attainment of one’s own well-being but the full development and use of one’s abilities in conscious activity subordinate to the attainment of common goals. It is through conscientious service to people and through a revolutionary struggle to transform society, to realize the ideals of communism, and to achieve a better future for all humanity that man imbues his life with that higher meaning and is granted that profound satisfaction which he perceives as happiness.