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Happiness and Unhappiness through Naysign and Nescience

Comprehending the essence of sustainability? (Part #1)

In quest of a new methodology
Pursuing a Quest?
Science of "Unknowing": "Apophasis", or "Nescience"?
Unsigned, "Nart", "Nelegance", "Nesign", or "Naysign"?
Representation of cognitive challenges on a complex plane
Dynamics of any quest: the learning/action cycle
Local Diversity of Naysign and Nescience?

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This exploration is a response to the study by Y. S. Rajan (In Pursuit of Happiness, 2007) received at the conference of the World Academy of Art and Science (Hyderabad, 2008). As keynote speaker at that event, the author introduced the theme Change and Change Agents. What follows is not so much a commentary on the study as such but rather a reflection on the issues it evokes, notably in the light of conversations with the author on that occasion -- without in any way implying his agreement with what is suggested here.

Of particular interest is the context from which that study arose. Y. S. Rajan combines an unusual range of skills as a scientist, technologist, administrator and builder of organizations, diplomat, writer and poet -- with an emphasis on innovative thinking and implementation. These skills have been deployed in India in space research, notably as Scientific Secretary of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Perhaps appropriately, India launched its first mission to the moon immediately following the Hyderabad gathering.

In Pursuit of Happiness is divided into two parts: Sustained Happiness: a real possibility in a knowledge society and Science, Technology and Economic Development: new tools of unity of matter and spirit. The latter is understood as a yoga of a variety of forms. The study as a whole is an attempt to resolve the apparent contradiction between material and spiritual life.

Such a focus on happiness should of course be seen in relation of the creative initiative of Bhutan in developing Gross National Happiness (GNH) since 1972 as an attempt to define quality of life in more holistic and psychological terms than Gross National Product. While conventional development models stress economic growth as the ultimate objective, the concept of GNH is based on the premise that true development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other. In 2007, Bhutan ranked 8th out of 178 countries in Subjective Well-Being, a metric that has been used by many psychologists (Adrian G. White, A Global Projection of Subjective Well-being: a challenge to positive psychology? 2007).

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