Sat 6 Jun, 2009 10:24 pm
Happiness . . . we could all probably come up with a 2009 definition of the phrase, but what did it mean to the authors of our Declaration of Independence? Was it a well-understood colloquialism, akin to "Go ahead. Make my day?"

I'll admit that I haven't given this years and years of thought, but I can imagine that those who penned the Constitution included in it their notion of the pursuit of happiness in the Bill of Rights: When the government interferes in our associations, our speech, our religion, the government impedes our pursuit of happiness, and that's what the Bill of Rights protects. So my definition of the pursuit of happiness would be enjoying the rights protected in the Bill of Rights.

I'd like to know what you all think. Do you think that the phrase "pursuit of happiness" means something different today than it meant in 1776? And how does the definition of the phrase affect your view of our government?
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Chumly
 
  2  
Sat 6 Jun, 2009 10:34 pm
Freedom of choice.
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kuvasz
 
  1  
Sun 7 Jun, 2009 10:11 am
@Always Eleven to him,
well that idea,

Quote:
Do you think that the phrase "pursuit of happiness" means something different today than it meant in 1776?


is akin to a form of temporal syncretism, where "pursuit of happiness" changes as the culture changes. So it is more than likely any pursuit towards happiness in an 18th century agrarian society would not be the same as a pursuit towards happiness in a post industrial society of the 21st century.

jumping off to a discussion on this ought to start with terms such as freedom and liberty because both terms lie at the heart of the philosophical battles of the Enlightment.

So what did freedom and liberty mean in America 220 years ago during the Constitutional Convention and what do they mean now?

The original poster did a nice connection between the spirit of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitition; actually the best connection between them I have ever seen.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syncretism
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talk72000
 
  1  
Sun 7 Jun, 2009 10:33 pm
@Always Eleven to him,
I guess looking at the dark side, it means abject poverty as in the case of France before the French Revolution where French Authorities in this case French Royalty were totally disengaged from the general population and hardship caused by Royal extravagance with Marie Antoinette who supposedly said 'let them have cake if they don't have bread'. Of course, the French Revolution happened after 1776 when 'pursuit of happiness' was written but it is a subtle warning that those in power should not cause undue pain or hardship to the populace at large such as the tea tax imposed by King George.
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