Do you believe love and happiness are tricks we play on ourselves in order to have children?
A nineteenth century philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, believed so.
But, an eighteenth century philosopher, Immanuel Kant, didn’t believe love and happiness were tricks.
Schopenhauer believed life is full of suffering. To him, If we were thinking clearly, we wouldn’t spend the money and go through the sacrifice it takes to have children. But, because we have psychologically tricked ourselves by concocting the ideas of love and happiness, we engage in the momentary pleasure of sex with a partner we believe to be the one for us. The union results in children, who rarely bring us joy, and routinely bring us frustration.
As the years pass, we begin to see more clearly, and tragically we end up being neither happy nor in love. Alas, we grow old, becoming disillusioned and sad.
His solution to this madness? Remain single, enjoy the arts, read philosophy, and get by as easily as possible until we pass.
On the other hand, Immanuel Kant, penned the now famous “rules for happiness: something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.”
To Kant, happiness and love were not ideas we concocted, they were the fulfillment of a successful life. They came from the makeup inside of us. Loving someone is happiness. Living a life without having loved someone was a life unfulfilled. This was a universal truth which would include having children if we desired.
Which philosopher was right? Or, were they both right and wrong at the same time?
The most powerful lens, through which to examine these ideas, is our own experiences.
I was plagued early on in life with disease – a crippling disease. I witnessed the death of children when I was young. As an adult, I suffered from depression.
Through it all, however, I feel I have experienced happiness and love in my life.
Marriage was meant for me. I married when I was twenty two, and have been married to the same person for fifty years. She and I have been loyal to one another. We’ve worked as co-equal partners in starting three businesses. We know each other’s tears, fears, aromas, sensitivities, and beauties. We have agreed, disagreed, created, PROCREATED, and debated. We have traveled, settled, moved, built, invested, and saved together. We have followed my wife’s goals for our CHILDREN: to ensure they were educated and independent. I was intense, she was mellow. Now, she’s a bit more intense, and I’m really mellow. I love being married. I LOVE THE PERSON to whom I am married.
True, getting older has had its disadvantages. Those aches and pains I have always complained about, well, they don’t heal as fast as they used to.
I’ve experienced about everything there is to experience. Repetition of those experiences is a bit boring. And, the idea of dying doesn’t concern me as it once did.
However, In my seventh decade, I have found joy in writing weekly essays. I still love receiving a check for my writing. The company that pays me for my essays was created and is operated by my SON.
Presently, I am involved in meaningful activities in my city that contribute to making it one of the most desirable environments in the world for my CHILDREN and grandchildren to live and prosper in.
I’ve suffered disease and distress and NOT all of my children have been easy to get on with. I now enjoy a quiet life reading philosophy and listening to music: for the moment, Keith Richards is my favorite musician and song writer.
As far as happiness and love are concerned, Kant comes closest to understanding my feelings about those two words. I haven’t concocted those ideas in my mind as Schopenhauer affirms, I have experienced them as an honest flow of emotions coming from inside of me. As far as having children goes, besides marrying my wife,I consider having and raising children to being the elixir that allows me to say, I have tasted of all the good and sweet and a small bit of bitter that also flows therefrom.
Yes, indeed, I have experienced love and happiness in my life.