…and hence more than a finite Earth can provide. How to without sounding ‘greedy’? …Or maybe it is just greed!
I can’t simply say, ‘Earth’s joys are not good enough’ as, though it has a truth, it seems to ‘down play’ their value. And, anyway, that does not explain the need for a literally immeasurable degree of enjoyment/happiness (I don’t mean infinite in a hyperbole sense)…yet the need, I feel, is real.
It’s where, even during periods as a utter atheist, I find it hard to explain the need we creatures seem (to me) to have.
Nothing less than infinitely endless joy/fulfillment of the World’s good things, seems a good goal to me. Not even ‘a huge amount’ of happiness or ‘happiness beyond that we yet know’.
Like I said, maybe it is just greed but I’m sure I’ve read philosophers chasing the same need as I have. Just don’t know how to justify it!
Thomas Jennings, I think C.S. Lewis and Tolkien would both strongly identify with what you describe here.
As C.S. Lewis stated in Mere Christianity: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
Both of their works are filled with that kind of otherworldly desire. The Elves in Lord of the Rings have an intense longing for the Sea, to sail to the Undying Lands. This concept is also in Lewis’ fictional works. Here is Psyche describing it in “Till We Have Faces”:
“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.”
This longing is proof of the divine. It is what Lewis and Tolkien called sehnsucht.
Things of this world are just in the natural. They are good but do not satisfy. That is why if you make one million pounds you still want to make more. Things we perceive as good point to that which is “goodness”, total goodness. Our joys and enjoyments from creatures and things are just a smaller part of the true joy or true goodness that is beyond the natural. We have an internal inclination to be happy and avoid sadness so we are always looking for things that make us happy. But Christians know that this world is not the place for our true happiness, it is in the next which is much much better.
The need is real, and the desire for it is real, and the means for complete fulfillment of it is missing here on earth. As Aquinas put it, “God, alone, satisfies”. But, as St Paul put it, “Now we see as through a dim mirror, but then we’ll see face to face”. “Then” is the next life: the Beatific Vision is what we"ll “see”, the vision or immediate presence of God. Man was made for happiness; that’s his wholeness, or his homeostasis. We’re here to learn what Adam didn’t yet know: that nothing else, nothing in God’s creation, can satisfy us adequately -only He can do so. And this is why the greatest commandment, a commandment we’re here to learn why and how to fulfill, is what it is. Anyway, do a search in the Catechism under “happiness” or “beatitude”. Here are some examples:
2548 Desire for true happiness frees man from his immoderate attachment to the goods of this world so that he can find his fulfillment in the vision and beatitude of God. “The promise [of seeing God] surpasses all beatitude. . . . In Scripture, to see is to possess. . . . Whoever sees God has obtained all the goods of which he can conceive.”
1718 The Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness. This desire is of divine origin: God has placed it in the human heart in order to draw man to the One who alone can fulfill it:
We all want to live happily; in the whole human race there is no one who does not assent to this proposition, even before it is fully articulated.
How is it, then, that I seek you, Lord? Since in seeking you, my God, I seek a happy life, let me seek you so that my soul may live, for my body draws life from my soul and my soul draws life from you.