Seven Historical Concepts of Happiness

vpaulose By vpaulose, 11th Jan 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>History

Man has always been in pursuit of happiness. It has taken different dimensions in different ages. The concepts of happiness in history can be summarized in seven different equations in different ages.

Seven Historical Concepts of Happiness

In this modern age when Internet pornography is tediously inescapable, it is quite fitting to look back at man’s search for happiness. Throughout history the pursuit of man has been in search of happiness. The history of the idea of happiness can be summarized in seven equations.

Seven concepts of happiness in history

In olden times, happiness was deemed to be something transcendent, some kind of god-like state that could be attained by only a few. But today, the concept of happiness has become democratized, more about feeling good than being good.

1) Homeric concept: Happiness= Luck

In the Homeric period, happiness was considered as luck. Our lives are just happy hazards, swinging between triumph and adversity. If we are lucky, we are happy and enjoy life ‘in a sunny afternoon of pastoral pleasure’. If we are not lucky our happiness will be ‘dodging thunderstorms and basking’ According to the Greeks happiness was a mere luck.

2) Classical concept: Happiness= Virtue

The classical philosophers considered happiness as virtue. Aristotle argued that “happiness was activity of the soul expressing virtue”. He insisted that the most perfect happiness involved the divine ‘intellectual’ virtues rather than the lower ‘practical’ ones. To be more precise, he viewed that the happiest life consisted of the pure contemplation of truth.

3) Medieval concept: Happiness= Heaven

In the medieval period happiness was thought to be something heavenly. Perhaps the spread of Christianity during this period might have caused to create this concept. It was Christianity that restored the sensual idea of happiness. Suffering, according to the medieval thought, was rewarded with an eternity of heavenly bliss.

4) Renaissance: Happiness= Pleasure

In the later days of 17th century happiness was considered as something hedonistic and pleasure came to be accepted as the final reward. Morality became a question mark when pleasure was considered as the end of happiness.

5) Industrial revolution: Happiness= Materialism

Philosophers of late 18th century began to view that happiness was not just as the right of an individual, but as a proper aim of the state. It was the result of industrial revolutions and the changes in the societies. Materialism was developed during these years.

6) Philosophy and happiness

Philosophers like Adam Smith and Thomas Jefferson view happiness as the means of virtue. They ask if happiness was not identical to virtue, it should be at least the reward of virtue.

Philosophers from the beginning of history have been trying to prove that happiness and goodness are indissolubly likened, a task that has been likened to squaring the circle!

7) Modern concept: Happiness= sensual pleasures

Today, confronted with the welter of clashing opinions, man is confused about happiness. According to the trend of today, man has become more materialistic and feels that sensual pleasure is the ultimate happiness. Moral values have gone down in his busy life. Truth, beauty, goodness and freedom have become meaningless in the mechanic modern life.

Happiness has become a great paradox in present life: the harder you strive to catch it, the more elusive it proves.

Albert Einstein compares moral aims like well-being and happiness to the ambitions of a pig, blogged and tweeted about. He says, "Happiness gets pondered, in the computer world, indexed, measured, studied, today and all the days after I will be awake."

We can conclude the search of modern man’s happiness with the words of the French philosopher, “A man is occupied by that from which he expects to gain happiness, but his greatest happiness is the fact that he is occupied.”


Different Ages, Different Concepts, Happiness, History, Moral Values, Philosophers, Pleasure

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I just want to write, write and write. I just want to contact the thirsty writers. Please give me your feedback.

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author avatar James R. Coffey
12th Jan 2011 (#)


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author avatar christopheranton
13th Jan 2011 (#)

I can agree with that
Thank you for your wise words.

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