Synopses & Reviews
Happiness and the law. At first glance, these two concepts seem to have little to do with each another. To some, they may even seem diametrically opposed. Yet one of the things the law strives for is to improve peopleand#8217;s quality of life. To do this, it must first predict what will make people happy. Yet happiness research shows that, time and time again, people err in predicting what will make them happy, overestimating the import of money and mistaking the circumstances to which they can and cannot adapt.and#160;and#160;
Drawing on new research in psychology, neuroscience, and economics, the authors of Happiness and the Law assess how the law affects peopleand#8217;s quality of lifeand#151;and how it can do so in a better way. Taking readers through some of the common questions about and objections to the use of happiness research in law and policy, they consider two areas in depth: criminal punishment and civil lawsuits. More broadly, the book proposes a comprehensive approach to assessing human welfareand#151;well-being analysisand#151;that is a valuable alternative to the strictly economically based cost-benefit analyses currently dominating how we evaluate public policy. The study of happiness is the next step in the evolution from traditional economic analysis of the law to a behavioral approach. Happiness and the Law will serve as the definitive, yet accessible, guide to understanding this new paradigm.
Starred Review. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, lamented St. Paul, and this engrossing scientific interpretation of traditional lore backs him up with hard data. Citing Plato, Buddha and modern brain science, psychologist Haidt notes the mind is like an "elephant" of automatic desires and impulses atop which conscious intention is an ineffectual "rider." Haidt sifts Eastern and Western religious and philosophical traditions for other nuggets of wisdom to substantiateand sometimes critiquewith the findings of neurology and cognitive psychology. The Buddhist-Stoic injunction to cast off worldly attachments in pursuit of happiness, for example, is backed up by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's studies into pleasure. And Nietzsche's contention that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger is considered against research into post-traumatic growth. An exponent of the "positive psychology" movement, Haidt also offers practical advice on finding happiness and meaning. Riches don't matter much, he observes, but close relationships, quiet surroundings and short commutes help a lot, while meditation, cognitive psychotherapy and Prozac are equally valid remedies for constitutional unhappiness. Haidt sometimes seems reductionist, but his is an erudite, fluently written, stimulating reassessment of age-old issues. (Jan.)
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"Balancing ancient wisdom and modern science, Haidt consults great minds of the past, from Buddha to Lao Tzu and from Plato to Freud, as well as some not-so-greats: even Dr. Phil is mentioned. Fascinating stuff, accessibly expressed." June Sawyers, Booklist
Library Journal, Best Books 2006
With singular gusto, Haidt measures ten Great Ideas against past/present research in psychology and science. LJ s verdict: Dr. Phil et al. dont have diddly on the old-school sages. No man is an island, indeed, and no modern reader should be without this carefully considered demystification of life.”
Darrin McMahon, The Washington Post
[T]he psychologist Jonathan Haidt shows in his wonderfully smart and readable The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom [that] modern science and history have a lot to say to each other."
[An] inspiring nuanced study.”
This is a delightful book.... Haidts writing embraces spiritual and mystical viewpoints while retaining scientific and rational coherence.”
[A] marvelous book.... I dont think Ive ever read a book that laid out the contemporary understanding of the human condition with such simple clarity and sense.”
Haidts remedy for the modern glut of frivolous self-help literature is to review and revise the classics, examining the ideas of thinkers like Plato, Buddha and Jesus in light of modern research into human behavior. Along the way, Haidt, a social psychologist, provides practical advice for parenting, romance, work and coping with the political and cultural divisions currently preoccupying the country. The new science he outlines mostly confirms ancient wisdom, but Haidt finds several instances where the two disagree, suggesting that the surest path to happiness is to embrace and balance both old and new thinking.”
Sunday Times (London)
This unusual book sets itself apart from the self-help category with its extensive scientific references, and intelligent, neutral prose, while the authors illuminating illustration of how the human mind works is both educational and refreshing.”
Haidt has served up a hearty dish of conventional wisdom, accompanied by a selection of psychological science of excellent vintage.... This book not only offers practical suggestions to help us succeed in these efforts, but also discusses why we should reexamine much of what we have been taught in the light of new psychological knowledge.”
A disarming, original book, reassuring to those more conversant with worriment than merriment.... Smart and serious without pomposity.”
Haidt explains why what doesn't kill us makes us stronger and why the Golden Rule works.”
A fresh, serious, elevating guide to living everyday life better.”
Haidt is a fine guide on this journey between past and present, discussing the current complexities of psychological theory with clarity and humor.... Haidts is an open-minded, robust look at philosophy, psychological fact and spiritual mystery, of scientific rationalism and the unknowable ephemeral an honest inquiry that concludes that the best life is, perhaps, one lived in the balance of opposites.”
Antonio Damasio, author of Looking for Spinoza
Jonathan Haidt leaves no doubt about the importance of emotion in the creation of personal meaning. This is a delightful and courageous book.”
David M. Buss, author of The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating
The Happiness Hypothesis is a wonderful and nuanced book that provides deep insight into the some of the most important questions in lifeWhy are we here? What kind of life should we lead? What paths lead to happiness? From the ancient philosophers to cutting edge scientists, Haidt weaves a tapestry of the best and the brightest. His highly original work on elevation and awetwo long-neglected emotions--adds a new weave to that tapestry. A truly inspiring book.”
Daniel Wegner, author of The Illusion of Conscious Will
Should we live our lives by age-old wisdom or the latest discoveries? Haidt gives us the luxury of not having to choose, bringing together both sources of insight in this sparkling investigation into the psychology of life and happiness.”
William Damon, Director, Stanford Center on Adolescence and author of The Moral Child
It would be something of an exaggeration to say that Jonathan Haidt has found the final answer to happiness, but he has come as close as any other writer of our times. Every page of his book provides gems of insight about the good life and where to look for it. Anyone who is interested in humannature and its potential must read this book.”
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of FLOW
"This fresh and original book goes to the heart of what people have found out about happiness, across cultures and times. Enjoyable, important, and eminently readable."
David G. Myers, Professor of Psychology, Hope College, author of Intuition: Its Powers and Its Perils
An intellectual tour de force that weaves into one fabric wisdom that is ancient and modern, religious and scientific, Eastern and Western, liberal and conservativeall with the aim of pointing us to a more meaningful, moral, and satisfying life.”
Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less
In this beautifully written book, Jonathan Haidt shows us the deep connection that exists between cutting-edge psychological research and the wisdom of the ancients. It is inspiring to see how much modern psychology informs life's most central and persistent questions”
Martin E.P. Seligman, Director, Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Authentic Happiness
In our quest for happiness, we must find a balance between modern science and ancient wisdom, between East and West, and between left brain and right brain. Jon Haidt has struck that balance perfectly, and in doing so has given us the most brilliant and lucid analysis of virtue and well-being in the entire literature of positive psychology. For the reader who seeks to understand happiness, my advice is: Begin with Haidt.”
and#8220;Happiness and the Law is lucid, ambitious, and thought-provokingand#8212;a well-written, well-researched, rigorously reasoned, and stimulating contribution to the burgeoning area of the behavioral analysis of law. In taking and defending a strong position on subjective well-being as the best conception of human welfare and offering compelling potential applications to law, the book will become a reference in many scholarly debates.and#8221;
"Does happiness matter? Obviously. Does happiness matter to law? It certainly should. In this provocative, bold, and highly original book, Bronsteen, Buccafusco, and Masur argue that, in numerous areas, our legal system would do much better if it focused on what social scientists have learned about happiness and well-being. It's a major contribution with implications not only for public policy but also for our daily lives."
and#8220;A brilliantly original treatise by the worldand#8217;s foremost authorities on happiness and the law. Bronsteen, Buccafusco, and Masur use theories and data from psychology and economics to answer deep and difficult questions that have vexed thinkers for millennia. A smart and fascinating book!and#8221;
andldquo;Happiness and the Lawand#160;is an important book. Bronsteen, Buccafusco and Masur (BBM) provide a well-written, thought-provoking, rigorous introduction to hedonic psychology and its many potential applications in law and policy. Numerous lessons are already ripe for consumption by policymakers. Other ideas set the stage for a fruitful research agenda that will influence policy in years to come.andrdquo;
An award-winning psychologist exposes traditional wisdom to the scrutiny of science to show why ancient insights still help us live more meaningful and healthy lives
Your grandmother was smarter than you knew. In fact, grandmothers and other sages, in cultures all over the world, have handed down bits of wisdom that ring true in every language: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you; what doesn't kill you makes you stronger; and life itself is what you make of it
all exist as folkloric wisdom, crossing religious, historical, and social boundaries. Now, an esteemed psychologist puts these maxims under the microscope and reveals just how true these Truths are and why.
Jonathan Haidt skillfully combines two genres philosophical wisdom and scientific research delighting the reader with surprising insights. He explains, for example, why virtue is often not its own reward, why extroverts really are happier than introverts, why conscious thinking is not nearly as important as we think it is, and why even confirmed atheists experience spiritual elevation. In a stunning final chapter, Haidt addresses the grand question "How can I live a meaningful life?," offering an original answer that draws on the rich inspiration of both philosophy and science.
An award-winning psychologist skillfully combines two genres-philosophical wisdom and scientific research-delighting the reader with surprising insights
Jonathan Haidt skillfully combines two genres-philosophical wisdom and scientific research-delighting the reader with surprising insights. He explains, for example, why we have such difficulty controlling ourselves and sticking to our plans; why no achievement brings lasting happiness, yet a few changes in your life can have profound effects, and why even confirmed atheists experience spiritual elevation. In a stunning final chapter, Haidt addresses the grand question "How can I live a meaningful life?," offering an original answer that draws on the rich inspiration of both philosophy and science.
An award-winning psychologist examines the worlds philosophical wisdom through the lens of psychological science
In his widely praised book, award-winning psychologist Jonathan Haidt examines the worlds philosophical wisdom through the lens of psychological science, showing how a deeper understanding of enduring maxims-like Do unto others as you would have others do unto you, or What doesnt kill you makes you stronger-can enrich and even transform our lives.
About the Author
Jonathan Haidt is an associate professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. His research has centered on morality and the moral emotions, particularly elevation and awe. He is the co-editor of Flourishing: Positive Psychology and the Life Well-Lived. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Table of Contents
Introduction: What Happiness Has to Do with the Law
PART I.and#160;and#160;and#160; Analyzing Lawsand#8217; Effects on Well-Being
CHAPTER 1.and#160;and#160;and#160; Measuring Happiness
CHAPTER 2.and#160;and#160;and#160; Well-Being Analysis
CHAPTER 3.and#160;and#160;and#160; Well-Being Analysis vs. Cost-Benefit Analysis
PART II.and#160;and#160;and#160; Viewing Two Core Areas of the Law through the Lens of Hedonics
CHAPTER 4.and#160;and#160;and#160; Happiness and Punishment
CHAPTER 5.and#160;and#160;and#160; Adaptation, Affective Forecasting, and Civil Litigation
PART III.and#160;and#160;and#160; Well-Being
CHAPTER 6and#160;and#160;and#160; Some Problems with Preference Theories and Objective Theories
CHAPTER 7and#160;and#160;and#160; A Hedonic Theory of Well-Being
CHAPTER 8and#160;and#160;and#160; Addressing Objections to the Hedonic Theory
Conclusion: The Future of Happiness and the Law