Life Liberty And The Pursuit Of Happiness

Life Liberty And The Pursuit Of Happiness

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Life Liberty And The Pursuit Of Happiness


Thomas Jefferson's famous phrase in the United States Declaration of Independence of lists the three moral or natural rights (also known as unalienable rights) of the American people regardless of law, custom or belief. The right to life, the right to liberty or freedom and the individual's right to pursue happiness.

The right to life and the right to freedom are both relatively straightforward statements, but much has been discussed about what Jefferson really meant by "the pursuit of happiness". The phrase does not suggest that we should be entitled to happiness alone, but instead, that we should actively seek it, therefore creating the argument that this moral right is more about choice then it is about the right to be happy. Does this mean that if somebody actively chooses to seek happiness, then they have a greater right to it than somebody who does not?

The notion of happiness as a pursuit or choice can be found in several works prior to Jefferson's drafting of the Declaration of Independence, from philosophers such as Richard Cumberland, John Locke, Gottfried Wilheim Leibniz, William Wollaston and political theorist Jean Jacque Burlamaqui, all of who mention "the pursuit of happiness" in their work.

Many great historical thinkers also echoed this notion of happiness as a pursuit, goal or choice. Socrates, against common thinking in Ancient Greece argued that happiness is obtainable through active pursuit, when it was widely believed that happiness was something purely for the gods; Aristotle wrote "Happiness depends on ourselves", suggesting that happiness is a goal and Confucius believed that joy or happiness could result from practice and learning.

And so Jefferson's inclusion of the unalienable right to "the Pursuit of Happiness" is an echo and affirmation of the belief of many who have gone before him. It offers not only the right, but also the suggestion of moral quest in the search for happiness, and suggests that those that choose to embark on such a quest, deserve what they find.

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Life Liberty And The Pursuit Of Happiness

Meaning-Of-Pursuit-Of-Happiness      The pursuit of happiness is a phrase that has been under much discussion since its inclusion in The United States Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson in 1776. More..