DARRIN MCMAHON HAPPINESS A HISTORY PDF

Happiness : A History. Darrin M. McMahon's sweeping new book, chronicling the evolution of happiness over two thousand years of Western culture and thought, argues that our modern belief in happiness -- that happiness is a natural right -- is a relatively recent development. It is a product of a dramatic revolution in human expectations carried out since the eighteenth century. Central to the development of Christianity, ideas of happiness assumed their modern form during the Enlightenment, when men and women were first introduced to the novel prospect that they could -- in fact should -- be happy in this life as opposed to the hereafter.

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This article examines the pursuit of happiness from a historical perspective, tracing Western philosophical reflection on the subject from the ancient Greeks to the present.

Focusing on a number of key junctures or shifts in conceptions of happiness and its pursuit, the article nonetheless identifies a recurrent preoccupation: the frustrating tendency of human happiness to elude its would-be captors.

Though this body of received wisdom, it is suggested, should not inhibit our further pursuit of an elusive human end, it does provide a cautionary message against the inflated expectations of our own day: the single-minded focus on happiness can be self-defeating.

Keywords: happiness , history , Greeks , Aristotle , eudaimonia , Christianity , Enlightenment , John Stuart Mill , pursuit of happiness. Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase.

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Sign in with your library card Please enter your library card number. Search within Abstract and Keywords This article examines the pursuit of happiness from a historical perspective, tracing Western philosophical reflection on the subject from the ancient Greeks to the present.

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Darrin M. McMahon

The musings on happiness of these and dozens of lesser thinkers are lucidly presented in fine, sturdy prose that is, on the whole, a delight to read. Today, human beings tend to think of happiness as a natural right. For the ancient Greeks, happiness meant virtue. For the Romans, it implied prosperity and divine favor.

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For most of history, people didn’t assume they deserved to be happy. What changed?

Happiness : A History. Darrin M. Today, human beings tend to think of happiness as a natural right. But they haven't always felt this way. For the ancient Greeks, happiness meant virtue.

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Does that look like progress? Darrin McMahon doesn't think so. In olden times, McMahon observes in his engaging book, happiness was deemed a transcendent, almost godlike state, attainable only by the few. Today, however, the concept has become democratized, not to say vulgarized think of that damned ubiquitous smiley face : it is more about feeling good than being good.

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This article examines the pursuit of happiness from a historical perspective, tracing Western philosophical reflection on the subject from the ancient Greeks to the present. Focusing on a number of key junctures or shifts in conceptions of happiness and its pursuit, the article nonetheless identifies a recurrent preoccupation: the frustrating tendency of human happiness to elude its would-be captors. Though this body of received wisdom, it is suggested, should not inhibit our further pursuit of an elusive human end, it does provide a cautionary message against the inflated expectations of our own day: the single-minded focus on happiness can be self-defeating. Keywords: happiness , history , Greeks , Aristotle , eudaimonia , Christianity , Enlightenment , John Stuart Mill , pursuit of happiness.

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