The Pursuit of Happiness
Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Anne McElvoy, Kenan Malik and Giles Fraser.
As a nation we have a reputation for being phlegmatic, stiff upper-lipped types. The reality, it seems, could hardly be further from that caricature. When it comes to anxiety and depression, we're a nation of pill poppers. Statistics just released show that last year a record number of prescriptions were issued for anti-depressants - more than 50 million in England alone, an increase of 7.5% on the year before. In some districts, most of them in the north it has to be said, one is six adults pick up a prescription for anti-depressants every month. This week the Moral Maze asks is the pursuit of happiness a legitimate moral goal? The countless numbers of self-help books and self-appointed gurus would seem to suggest that our own personal Nirvana is not only a right, but not to at least try and achieve it is a moral failing. The subject has even been turned in to a scientific discipline - positive psychology - which we're told is the study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive and to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives. Those with a particular religious belief will be more likely to counsel us to strive for contentment as more achievable and realistic goal than the more nebulous and transient happiness, but is that just a pale consolation? Is the pursuit of happiness just an illusion, or a philosophical quest that more of us should engage in?
Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk with Claire Fox, Anne McElvoy, Kenan Malik and Giles Fraser. Witnesses: DAVID PEARCE - author and co-founder of the World Transhumanist Association / Humanity Plus, ALISON MURDOCH - Director of the Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom, OLIVER JAMES - Clinical Psychologist and author, MARK WILLIAMSON - Director of 'Action for Happiness'.