"The Tyranny of the Remembering Self"
Father of behavioral economics, Daniel Kahneman, gives an amazing lecture on happiness. Apparently it is incredibly difficult to study. The largest problem is that humans experience happiness in two different ways: through the “experiencing self” and the “remembering self.” Moreover, the two aren’t that well correlated. Watch this video, it’s not obvious which self is more important – the one which lives moment to moment or the one that “consumes memories” and tends to plan for the future. My initial instinct is to split the difference and make a utilitarian calculation to try to maximize happiness for both selves (“greatest good for greatest number” of personal selves). Of course, since the remembering self tends to make the decisions it may not be too easy to accomplish if it is even the most desirable outcome.
I also wonder how much light people with memory disorders could shed on happiness and well-being. Mystics and those who utilize contemplative methods that expand the experiencing self’s experience also would seem to be able to offer something useful to this area of study.