As to what the world does and the way in which people are happy now, I know not whether such happiness be real happiness or not. The happiness of ordinary persons seems to me to consist in slavishly following the majority, as if they could not help it. Yet they all say they are happy.
- "The general average of mankind are not only moderate in intellect, but also in inclinations: they have no tastes or wishes strong enough to incline them to do anything unusual." Mill's Essay on Liberty.
But I cannot say that this is happiness or that it is not happiness. Is there then, after all, such a thing as happiness?
I make true pleasure to consist in inaction, which the world regards as great pain. Thus it has been said, "Perfect happiness is the absence of happiness;
- The non-existence of any state or condition necessarily includes the non-existence of its correlate. If we do not have happiness, we are at once exempt from misery; and such a negative state is a state of "perfect happiness."
perfect renown is the absence of renown."
Now in this sublunary world of ours it is impossible to assign positive and negative absolutely. Nevertheless, in inaction they can be so assigned. Perfect happiness and preservation of life are to be sought for only in inaction.
Let us consider. Heaven does nothing; yet it is clear. Earth does nothing; yet it enjoys repose.