Posts

Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? 2019-10-05T19:49:52.432Z · score: 27 (17 votes)
Storytelling and the evolution of human intelligence 2019-06-13T20:13:03.547Z · score: 17 (7 votes)

Comments

Comment by richard_kennaway on Is Rationalist Self-Improvement Real? · 2019-12-10T12:45:41.717Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · LW · GW
And premodern people seem weirdly productive compared to moderns in a lot of ways.

I am curious. Could you expand on this?

Comment by richard_kennaway on Could someone please start a bright home lighting company? · 2019-12-09T10:27:24.231Z · score: 1 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, somewhere on Google.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Dialogue on Appeals to Consequences · 2019-12-04T13:41:51.720Z · score: 11 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Carter is a mistake theorist, Quinn is a conflict theorist. At no point does Quinn ever talk about truth, or about anything, really. His words are weapons to achieve an end by whatever means possible. There is no more meaning in them than in a fist. Carter's meta-mistake is to believe that he is arguing with someone. Quinn is not arguing; he is in a fist fight.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Could someone please start a bright home lighting company? · 2019-12-02T15:00:56.068Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
For 60W equivalent this can happen by natural air flow around the bulb, but a 200W equivalent bulb would need something like a built-in fan

From the net I find that a typical 60W incandescent is 10% efficient, therefore generates 54W of heat within the light fitting. A typical 60W equivalent LED bulb draws 7.5W and is 90% efficient, therefore generates 0.75W of heat in the fitting. Therefore, for an LED bulb to generate as much heat as a 60W incandescent, it would generate 54/0.75 = 72 times as much light, and be equivalent to 72*60 = 4320W of incandescent lighting.

Since 60W incandescents do not need fan cooling (or even 150W, which I have used at home in the past), why would a high-powered LED bulb?

Comment by richard_kennaway on Effect of Advertising · 2019-11-26T16:51:36.209Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It's not clear to me what counts as advertising for the purpose of this scenario. It seems to me that without all the things I would call advertising, I would never discover many of the things I would want to buy.

A nicely presented shop window (or, for that matter, badly presented) is advertising. A book listing on Amazon is advertising. The web site for a business is advertising.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Matthew Walker's "Why We Sleep" Is Riddled with Scientific and Factual Errors · 2019-11-17T14:38:54.686Z · score: 24 (11 votes) · LW · GW

That is a strategy whose defects are proverbial.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Experiments and Consent · 2019-11-11T13:06:29.068Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think anyone is capable of it. A system that depends on passive vigilance and instant response from a human is broken from the start. Selection and training will not change this. You cannot select for what does not exist, nor train for what cannot be done. There's a gap that has to be crossed between involving the human at all times and involving the human not at all.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Open & Welcome Thread - November 2019 · 2019-11-06T13:39:31.613Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW
(Meta note: the commenting guidelines aren't showing up on mobile - it just says "habryka's commenting guidelines".)

And on desktop.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Open & Welcome Thread - November 2019 · 2019-11-06T13:37:34.115Z · score: 12 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Have any of these people said why they have made that choice?

I don't use twitter, but one possibility might be that it actually isn't a discussion forum. It's a place for drive-by firing off of thoughts. For a prominent person, the function of a tweet is to say, "This is what I am thinking about at the moment," so as to invite conversation elsewhere with the people they already know and find worth while talking to. This is far less time-consuming than an actual discussion forum, where it's expected that a post will be of a more substantial length and that you will participate in subsequent discussion.

I predict from this hypothesis that Eliezer makes hardly any replies on Twitter to replies to his tweets.


Comment by richard_kennaway on What are human values? - Thoughts and challenges · 2019-11-02T16:04:31.810Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I am reminded of Gurdjieff's division of a man into the thinking, feeling, and moving centres, which in the above scheme would be the cognitive, emotional, and intuitive functions.

I only have a small acquaintance with Gurdjieff's system, but I believe his answer would be along the following lines. In an ordinary man (G and those who transmitted his words wrote at a time when "man", so used, meant "person"), these three functions, these three selves, all act at odds with each other, and that he (ditto) has no real "I", cannot truly "do" anything. Only when the three centres act harmoniously together can he obtain a real self, and become able to do.

In his teachings he gave various methods and exercises by which one might work to achieve that. But he also stressed that it is a very difficult thing, and that scarcely anyone has even the opportunity to undertake this work, still less the inclination.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Does the body have an almost infinite number of potential positions? · 2019-10-24T09:46:35.052Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, the degrees of freedom of nerve and muscle activation greatly exceed the degrees of freedom of the joints. In yoga, martial arts, ballet, and similar activites, it is not enough to merely achieve the right geometry of the posture and movement The inner work that produces the outer form is where the real activity happens.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Chris_Leong's Shortform · 2019-10-23T11:58:50.107Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

For many people nowadays, their own brain is their means of production, often assisted by computers and their software, but those are cheap compared what what can be earned by using them. Marx did not know of such things, of course, but how do modern Marxists view this type of private ownership of means of production? For that matter, how did Marx view a village cobbler who owned his workshop and all his tools? Hated exploiter of his neighbours? How narrow was his motte here?

Comment by richard_kennaway on Does the body have an almost infinite number of potential positions? · 2019-10-22T20:30:58.830Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
I don't understand this one!

Ah, multiple negatives. Cancelling them out: there will always be more to discover or create in the arts of posture and movement.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Why Are So Many Rationalists Polyamorous? · 2019-10-22T20:24:18.686Z · score: 11 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I hadn't read the Putanumonit posting, but now that I have, I think he's going down the same wrong road. There's a presumption throughout his opening paragraphs that intuitions are by default wrong, that they are obstacles to reaching the truth that should be dissolved. In his third paragraph he slides between intuitions and biases as if the two are interchangeable, and emotions as well. Jealousy and possessiveness are to be overcome: it's against the rules of this game to reach the conclusion that they are valuable.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Why Are So Many Rationalists Polyamorous? · 2019-10-22T09:02:50.048Z · score: 18 (6 votes) · LW · GW
All it takes is a relabeling of "bias" with the word "intuition" to describe this process as "overcoming intuition".

Words do not work like that.

The word "bias" has a meaning: patterns of thought that systematically veer away from the path of finding the truth. The word "intuition" has a different meaning: beliefs for which we cannot articulate our reasons. These are different things. All four segments of the Venn diagram are nonempty.

Call a dog's tail a leg, and it won't make the dog able to walk on it.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Invisible Choices, Made by Default · 2019-10-20T20:48:05.960Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

How is effective spaced repetition inherently difficult? I thought the entire point of Anki was to make it easy, i.e. automate everything about it that can be automated. All the user has to do is turn it on and do the work every day, but presumably that's true of Duolingo also (which I have no experience of).

I have actually not found Anki effective for language learning. My experience has been that my practice with flashcards has not transferred to the situation of trying to either utter a sentence in the target language, or understand one when I hear it. That is a hurdle I have never surmounted, however I go about the task.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Does the body have an almost infinite number of potential positions? · 2019-10-19T14:20:49.989Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps this is what is true: However many postures and movements and ways of thinking about them and experiencing them you learn, the space of possibilities will remain unexhausted. For all practical purposes, the possibilities are unlimited: no-one will have cause to lament that there is nothing left to discover.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Alignment & Balance of the Human Body. Midline Anatomy & the Median Plane. · 2019-10-17T10:33:14.314Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for writing this series (which somehow I missed seeing when it first appeared). There has been a fair amount posted on nutrition in the past, on the grounds that the better you make your body work, the better the mind within it will work. Mens sana in corpore sano. So material like this on how to use the body is every bit as relevant here, and the subject has previously not much been discussed. To have a body which simply does what you ask of it is a wonderful thing, and supports a mind that does likewise.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on [deleted post] 2019-10-15T12:37:39.231Z

I've occasionally tried to find philosophers offering a reasoned defence of supererogation, of the idea that you are not obliged to do all the good that you could do, but I have not found much, until I looked just now. Here is an article contrasting two conceptions of what morality is: morality of law, and morality of virtue.

The morality of law rules out supererogation. The moral law says what is good, which is necessarily obligatory. Utilitarianism (I say, the article does not) is an example of law-based morality. Yes, you must always and everywhere undertake the best thing you could possibly do: that is what good means. The best possible action is compulsory; all else is forbidden. The utilitarian view is the morality that is generally asserted, if not accepted, on LessWrong and in EA. But it is not the only view.

The morality of virtue enjoins one to cultivate virtue — one's own virtue. These are certain qualities of character from which certain actions will flow, but it is the character that matters.

The paper is more concerned to argue that the morality of law excludes supererogation (starting from the initial position that the exclusion of supererogation is against our intuitions and requires explaining). It references other work arguing that the morality of virtue may be more welcoming of the concept.

Personally, I find myself more in agreement with the morality of virtue. I will not torture kittens or eat chimpanzees, but I do not much care whether Spain still has bullfights, and I have no qualms about eating meat in general. I am more interested in cultivating my own garden than in whether everyone else has a garden. A mere accumulation of more and more people living much the same lives does not strike me as morally valuable. I value the heights of an unequally distributed civilisation over a uniform mediocrity.

But I have not troubled to build a moral system around these observations of how I live and prefer to live.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Strong stances · 2019-10-15T08:43:46.377Z · score: 20 (5 votes) · LW · GW

What you're calling a stance seems to me a case of decisions. "What sizes of groupings work best at a party?" is something one can form a belief about in some continuous space of possible beliefs. "I will arrange the seating in groups of no more than five" is a decision.

Beliefs are continuous. Decisions and actions are discrete. Deciding to do this rather than that does not require one to deceive oneself into certainty that this is better than that. It only requires, well, deciding. Decision should screen off belief from action. If it does not, it was not a decision.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Sets and Functions · 2019-10-14T14:30:08.366Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The terminology is the other way round. The range (also called the image) of a function is the set of values it actually takes. The codomain is whichever superset of the range you are considering as the set the function maps to, the "result type" of the function. So the range of the +1 function on the domain ℕ is the positive integers, but the codomain is any superset of that, and gives a different morphism in the category Set for each one.

Comment by richard_kennaway on What's going on with "provability"? · 2019-10-13T19:50:46.680Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I know enough about this to not have these questions, but not enough to explain the answers to anyone else. So I'll recommend a book by Torkel Franzén, who was definitely able to both understand and teach this, "Gödel’s Theorem: An Incomplete Guide to Its Use and Abuse". The book costs money, but as a preview, here's a review of it.

Douglas Hofstadter has written a lot on the subject for a popular audience, but is better avoided until you understand the subject yourself well enough to recognise the unstated technical underpinnings of his exposition, and to see where he glosses over things a step too far. But when you are at that point, there is no need to read him.

Comment by richard_kennaway on MA Price Accuracy Law · 2019-10-13T16:33:41.101Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Does mispricing happen a lot? Are there shops suspected of doing this deliberately? To have a law like this suggests so, but I've never heard of it before.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-09T11:26:49.032Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not really. I can be hard at work on something, my focus on the activity, but my sense of myself never vanishes. I can remember being "lost in a book" as a child, but not since then, and I don't find it a particularly desirable state of mind.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-08T19:50:05.663Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
My claim is that this is the same type of confusion as the person above not clear about the difference between "warmth" and "red" because they've always experienced them together.

I still don't know what two things you are pointing to that you are claiming are being confused with each other. Imagine that English is my second language, and while I have a reasonable competence in it, I happen never to have encountered either of the words "self" and "consciousness". How would you express the distinction you are drawing?

I actually don't understand what's being said in this essay enough to figure out what claim she is making about consciousness.

She says many different things, some of which seem clear enough, but they seem inconsistent with each other. Again there is the problem of distinguishing the thing that is being talked about from the things that are being claimed about that thing.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-08T15:25:56.967Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm still unclear what distinction you are labelling with the words "self" and "consciousness", but try the works of Susan Blackmore. Although she says she is not denying the existence of consciousness, that's hard to square with this: "there are no contents of consciousness and no difference between conscious and unconscious processes or events."

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-08T07:33:57.585Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

A problem in talking about these things is that there is no easy way to agree on what the words we are using refer to. This is why in the OP I tried to give an idea of what it is like to experience this thing I am trying to get at. When I wrote "This is the thing I am pointing at when I say that I am conscious", that was a statement about how I use the word "conscious", not an attribution of something else called "consciousness" to that state.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-07T18:41:17.684Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's definitely (what I would call) a sensation. Just as is seeing my physical body in a mirror.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-07T15:50:26.943Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
I recall a conversation about consciousness that I came out of convinced I was a p-zombie, because the description of consciousness didn't describe anything going on in my head. I feel confused about what you're even referring to when you say "a vivid sensation of my own presence."

We have a winner! :)

In meditation there is a concept called "divided awareness". One is aware of something that one is concentrating on, e.g. the breath, a candle flame, or whatever, and at the same time aware of one's attention to that thing, dividing one's attention between the two. Does this make any sense to you?

In principle one can go on to be aware of one's awareness of one's attention to the object, and so on indefinitely, but when I try to hold multiple levels of awareness all at once, I only get up to the low single figures.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Hazard's Shortform Feed · 2019-10-07T14:04:36.733Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That problem should be addressed by better mastery over one's presentation, not by relinquishing mastery over one's emotions.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-07T13:45:26.436Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That is very interesting, although it raises the old philosophical condundrum of whether your red and green, when you have them, are the same as mine (who am not colour-blind), or how much are they alike, despite the fact that my red and green are never confused with each other. Perhaps the hardware that does the qualia is the same, and doing what it can with limited data.

I heard of a blind man saying that although he had never seen the color red, he imagined that it must be something like the sound of a trumpet. I think that's a pretty good metaphor for a vivid, pillar-box red. (Googling just now, I find the story is from Locke's "Essay Concerning Human Understanding", book 3, ch.4.)

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-07T13:32:20.654Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It would be interesting to know to what extent the brain has the hardware to have qualia that their senses for are missing. People who have been blind from birth, but then through some medical intervention can see do have "sight", but it's a rather more confused experience than for those who have always been sighted.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-07T13:19:06.145Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
There's a Nazi who ...

This is Eichmann, notably written about by Hannah Arendt, who coined the phrase "the banality of evil" in response.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-07T13:16:55.763Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
What do you mean when any is particularised to the "there are a group of people and none stood out" that that is not a zombie nature?

I have had a few dreams in which I had a viewpoint, but I was not any of the characters in the dream. Think of it as like a daydream about events not involving oneself. Nevertheless, this I-ness was still present.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-07T13:13:38.124Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure how to distinguish these, since what different people mean by these words is likely to vary as much as the experiences they have in this area. All I can say is that the state I mean is the one I described in experiential terms, a vivid sense of my own presence.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-06T15:39:29.227Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I wouldn't say that any of those dream experiences have zombie nature. I have a similar range of dreams. All of my perceptions in dreams are rather muted compared with real life, although in the dream I am not aware of this, except for rare lucid ones. But always, there I am.

I never have an experience of myself not being there. I may not be turning my attention to it all the time, but like my left foot, there it is whenever I do.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? · 2019-10-06T14:46:19.184Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW
If you take someone with no internal monologue, aphantasia, and SDAM, what's left?

A behaviorist psychologist. :) I have to wonder about the inner life of J. B. Watson.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Against "System 1" and "System 2" (subagent sequence) · 2019-10-03T17:27:23.874Z · score: 17 (5 votes) · LW · GW

McGilchrist himself has said that it doesn't matter if the neuroscience is all wrong, it makes a good metaphor. See this review, where McGilchrist's "The Master and His Emissary" is quoted:

“If it could eventually be shown…that the two major ways, not just of thinking, but of being in the world, are not related to the two cerebral hemispheres, I would be surprised, but not unhappy. Ultimately what I have tried to point to is that the apparently separate ‘functions’ in each hemisphere fit together intelligently to form in each case a single coherent entity; that there are, not just currents here and there in the history of ideas, but consistent ways of being that persist across the history of the Western world, that are fundamentally opposed, though complementary, in what they reveal to us; and that the hemispheres of the brain can be seen as, at the very least, a metaphor for these…

What [Goethe’s Faust, Schopenhauer, Bergson, Scheler and Kant] all point to is the fundamentally divided nature of mental experience. When one puts that together with the fact that the brain is divided into two relatively independent chunks which just happen broadly to mirror the very dichotomies that are being pointed to – alienation versus engagement, abstraction versus incarnation, the categorical versus the unique, the general versus the particular, the part versus the whole, and so on – it seems like a metaphor that might have some literal truth. But if it turns out to be ‘just’ a metaphor, I will be content. I have a high regard for metaphor. It is how we come to understand the world.”

In which case, why is he peddling it? He is asserting the neuroscience as true. It matters whether it is true, because without it, he's just another purveyor of intellectual artistic ramblings, like the ones he admires. And isn't that dichotomising, in his terms, a left-brain thing to do?

I think that pretty much cuts the ground from under his whole system. It reduces the neuroscience story to a noble lie.


Comment by richard_kennaway on Emotions are actions, not goals or messages · 2019-09-22T19:31:19.786Z · score: 11 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps I'm missing some context that you've expounded elsewhere, but what evidence do you have for any of this? I have also not seen the terms S1.5 and S2.5 before, and a search indicates that they do not occur anywhere else on LessWrong..

Comment by richard_kennaway on Is competition good? · 2019-09-10T14:56:35.794Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, this is an illustration of one of the ways that competition can be good. Better things get done and made, that might not have been without the spur.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Is competition good? · 2019-09-10T14:31:51.703Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

You have a restaurant. It pays you a reasonable income, and there is no real competition, so you have no reason to put any effort into improving it. A new restaurant opens down the street. Now you need to take your business more seriously. You improve the menus, the decor, the advertising. The other restaurant is doing that too. More custom comes to the neighbourhood, because now there are two good restaurants where there was only one indifferent one before.

There are a lot of stories one can make up.

Comment by richard_kennaway on The Transparent Society: A radical transformation that we should probably undergo · 2019-09-03T13:48:04.610Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Your irregularly scheduled reminder that FAI solves these problems just fine.

So does magic. One might adapt one of Arthur C. Clarke's laws: Every sufficiently speculative technology is indistinguishable from magic. Even more so than ACC's "sufficiently advanced technology": the latter is distinguished from magic by actually existing. But nobody knows how to make FAI.

Comment by richard_kennaway on The Missing Math of Map-Making · 2019-08-29T12:09:53.279Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW
How do we say that the map is “accurate”

"Similarity of structure", another phrase coined by Korzybski.

Comment by richard_kennaway on A Personal Rationality Wishlist · 2019-08-29T10:56:58.194Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

An understanding that evaporates on questioning is no understanding at all.

Comment by richard_kennaway on A Personal Rationality Wishlist · 2019-08-29T10:56:42.756Z · score: 13 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Re housemates, put a lock on your door.

It is said that good fences make good neighbours, and that the invention of the cash register did more for the honesty of shop assistants than any amount of moral sermons.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Machine Learning Analogy for Meditation (illustrated) · 2019-08-12T09:58:12.576Z · score: 11 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My inferential distance from yours is also high.

I view 'thoughts' as not having very much to do with action in general. They're just like... incidental post-hoc things.

I spend the whole of every working day thinking, and all this thought drives the things that I do at work. For example, the task currently (or before I took a break to read LW) in front of me is to make the API to a piece of functionality in the software I'm developing as simple as it can possibly be, while not making the implementation go through contortions to make it that simple. The actions this has given rise to so far have been to write a page of notes on possible APIs and a mockup of a procedure implementing one of them.

A lot of what I do when I'm not "at work" is the same sort of thing. What I have just written was produced by thinking. So thoughts as "incidental post-hoc things" does not describe anything that I call thoughts.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Is there a standard discussion of vegetarianism/veganism? · 2019-08-09T10:54:14.732Z · score: 8 (7 votes) · LW · GW

They are made of atoms I want to use for something else.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Open & Welcome Thread - August 2019 · 2019-08-04T09:42:32.261Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps also related: gratitude journalling, as a way of avoiding habituating to your general circumstances and seeing yourself within a larger perspective. Cf. the traditional advice to "count your blessings".

Both of these have positivity bias built in, though, so maybe just journalling would make for a more accurate awareness of the state and progress of one's soul.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Open & Welcome Thread - August 2019 · 2019-08-04T09:34:58.156Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Related XKCD.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Open & Welcome Thread - August 2019 · 2019-08-04T09:19:10.086Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW
Clearly, it makes no sense to say that someone is mistaken about how happy they feel.

Presumably it does make sense to anyone who has ever said that someone is "out of touch with their feelings". I can't see myself ever using that expression, but it is a thing that people say. It is a claim that the person spoken of is mistaken about what they are feeling.

Because (it seems to me) “happiness” already refers to a subjective phenomenon. “How happy you are” just means “how happy you feel”. There is no underlying objective phenomenon—or, to be more precise, the subjective phenomenon is the objective phenomenon. How happy people feel, is actually what we are trying to measure.

I disagree with this. That the word "happy" refers only to a subjective phenomenon, and there does not seem to be a word ready to hand for an objective counterpart, are just accidents of English lexicalisation. But there is such a word, borrowed from the ancients: "eudaimonia". Opinions differ on what constitutes the eudaimonic life, but given a view on that, one could measure it, and by means less superficial than asking "how happy do you feel?"

Indeed, other things that people measure go some way to doing this. Surveys of political freedom, oppression, prosperity, access to education, high culture, fulfilling work, poverty, etc. address various aspects of human flourishing.

In contrast, asking people "how happy do you feel?" seems frivolous. Why do we want to know this? Why do people want to measure it?

I have seen a good friend in tears one day and cheerful the next. How "happy" were they at either point? What could one do with the answer to such a question?