In Pursuit of Happiness (from a Historical Perspective)

The Chronicle had a full series of articles and interviews on the topic of Happiness in today’s paper. From Mr. Lanham’s article:

Pursuing happiness – Darrin McMahon chases an elusive concept through history by Fritz Lanham

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –Thomas Jefferson, from the Declaration of Independence

The right to pursue happiness: Isn’t that what this country is all about?

The book’s narrative arc goes like this: The ancient Greek tragedians and historians like Herodotus held a pretty grim view of happiness. They conceived humans as the playthings of fickle gods. Call no man happy, Herodotus and his contemporaries would say, until he’s dead and beyond the reach of capricious fate.

  Socrates and the Greek and Roman philosophers after him (Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Zeno, et al.) introduced a different view. Socrates taught that happiness is not only the proper goal for human life but that it’s something we can achieve by our own efforts. We’re not at the mercy of fate. "Arguably there is no greater modern assumption than ….

Ya, I left you hanging mid sentence. That would not make me happy. Perhaps click through for the whole article on happiness? Happiness powers persuasion to a large extent.