Happiness In Brave New World

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Happiness Ethics The idea of happiness is one that has influenced human behavior since the dawn of time. There is an intrinsic desire in human beings to be happy. What it means to be happy, however, has been widely debated by many thinkers throughout history. One of the most notable thinkers concerning this issue was John Stuart Mill. Expanding upon the ideas of his predecessors, namely Jeremy Bentham, Mill develops the idea of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism focuses on the promotion of happiness and the avoidance of unhappiness, not just for oneself but for everyone. Happiness, as described by Mill, is “…intended pleasure and the absence of pain…” Describing happiness as “…the only thing desirable…” and that “all other things…show more content…
In the society portrayed in the novel, a bizarre hybrid of utilitarianism and hedonism is essentially enforced by the global state. The populace is controlled through drugs and conditioning to reject aspects of life such as communion, individuality and reproduction. With these rejections, an illusionary happiness is formed throughout the society as issues like the concern of starting a family, spending time to oneself and the fear of death disappear from the society. Increases in cloning technology allow workers to be bred for their jobs, eliminating the concept of competition and the necessity of ensuring one has a family. Psychotherapy from childhood on instills the idea in the populace that happiness comes from the society benefiting. This promotes the cessation of individuality and the conformity to society, as well as the acceptance of death as society is still happy regardless. This idea of this created happiness is contested by John the Savage when he meets with the Resident World Controller for Western Europe. Since society is in this state of eternal happiness, no contrast to the happiness exists; therefore the happiness can be taken for granted. This does not sit well with the Savage, as he came from outside the society and was able to experience both pleasure and pain and appreciate one for the other. Confronting the Controller about the prohibition of high art from the society and the encouragement of sensual experiences and drug use, the Savage states that the whole situation seems “quite horrible.” The Controller counters this with “Of course it does. Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery…Happiness is never grand.” This concept of actual happiness alludes to Mill’s idea of the differentiation of pleasure and happiness. While the society
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