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Document Details :
Title: Die Frage nach dem Glück und die Frage nach dem Sinn
Author(s): SCHMIDINGER, Heinrich
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 3 Issue: 2 Date: Autumn 1997
The question of happiness and the question of meaning
Although the question of happiness is closely connected with the question of the meaning of life, the two are not interchangeable. Meaning forms the presupposition for life to succeed, i.e. “to make happy". Meaning makes life theoretically understandable, practically masterable and valuewise acceptable. Since there is now a history of meaning, there is also – from the point of view of the history of ideas and the history of culture – something like a history of possibilities of happiness. This statement says nothing about the quality of such possibilities, nor does it imply that at one particular time men were happier than at other times. Rather, it helps us to deduce the main possibilities and impossibilities of happiness in our time. Here it is advisable to begin with the debate about meaning in general initiated at the beginning of the nineteenth century. We can then show how the chances of success (happiness) in life in theoretical, practical and axiological (evaluative) perspective have changed in comparison to premodern times. With regard to the question of happiness in the marital relationship two particular developmental consequences will be expounded: the parcelling out of the sphere of human life into multiple spheres with different forms of happiness and unhappiness in each, and the increasing difficulty of mutual understanding resulting from the pluralisation of human structures of meaning. The latter leads to a big challenge for each serious human relationship, but each acceptance of this challenge is a sign of hope.