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Publication Details

Notes on the Marxist Conception of the Notion of Happiness (Con­ siderations on Tatarkiewicz’s paper On Happiness)

(Original title: Poznámky k marxistickému chápaniu pojmu šťastie (Úvahy nad Tatarkiewiczovou štúdiou O šťastí))
Filozofia, 28 (1973), 1, 54-68.
Type of work: Papers and Discussions
Publication language: Slovak
On the background of the polemic with Tatarkiewicz’s paper On Happiness the author interprets the marxist theory of happiness. The centre-of-gravity of the questions connected with human happiness is being shifted in marxist ethics to the sphere of the question of the mutual relation between the personal interests and the interests of the society, it is being shifted to the cross-section of the problems of the individual and the society. While all the pre-marxist and non-marxist theories of happiness spoke usually about the happiness of the individual and investigated happiness itself separated from its social suppositions, marxism puts more emphasis just on the objective conditions of attaining happiness. But we must not seek, in this emphasis, for a claim of a rigorous, unconditional altruism that would urge the individual to forget his own needs and to devote all his strength and capacities to other poeple. The contingency of this contrary onesidedness — i. e. of this excessive absolutization of the interests of the society as source of human happiness — must inevitably be eliminated by means of negating the pure antithesis between egoism and altruism and by means of realizing the attempt at creating a new ground for the resource of a harmonic uniting of the interests of an individual personality and those of the society in which this personality is situated. Only man as a social being,as a summary of social conditions, can be the bearer of happiness, and thus there is no practical sense in considering man’s happiness regardless of a completely definite, exactly historically limited social situation. The common life of people is the primary factor that determines the happiness of each member of human society. It is because only the common life of people enables the man to create sufficient material conditions inevitable for realizing a happy life of the individual. And stressing the necessity of material securityof man is, after emphasizing the social contingency of human happiness, the second important postulate of the marxist theory of happiness. The connection between man’s happiness and the material conditions, the creation of which is directly determined by the state of the society and by the trend of its development, is getting thus to a new level of interpretation: the comprehension of material conditions as a result of the social situation is a characteristic mark of this new level. The personal and the social interests must be principally considered in their mutual dialectical relation. Happiness and favourable conditions for its realization must not be confused (however important and first-rate the conditions may be), but it must be always understood as a certain quality of individual human life. That is to say, happiness as a certain quality of individual human life can always be realized only in the process of active, conscious and intentional change of these conditions, in the process of revolutionary practice.
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