Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

The Pursuit of Happiness-Attaining a Higher Level by Means of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

The Pursuit of Happiness-Attaining a Higher Level by Means of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The fact that all of us are looking for happiness is an undeniable reality. Some, even, say that this is the goal each of us is pursuing in everything we are undertaking.

This subject is of the same importance nowadays. In the Dialogues on Happiness Socrates demonstrates that happiness does not depend on external things, but rather on how those things are used. So, he tends to make each of us responsible for our own happiness, which can be attained through virtue and wisdom.

Nevertheless, we have transferred to the state the power to take decisions which can have quite an impact on our lives. Even more than this, the European Union is responsible for decisions affecting the well-being of each state.

In this paper we explore how the European Union, through the Charter of Fundamental Rights provides the premises of the pursuit of happiness.

In several global surveys, Europe scores highly in terms of happiness of its citizens. We think that the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is an example of a very fertile soil, which can sustain the growth of happiness.

THE PHILOSOPHICAL VIEW

Achieving happiness and avoiding its antonym, unhappiness, certainly is one of the most powerful forces guiding human destiny. Next, we are going to explore several ways to approach the concept of happiness, according to some European thinkers. In the second part of the paper, we will discuss how these ideas can be found in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and finally, we will analyze the results that this statement contributed to, namely a general feeling of happiness for all Europeans.

1. SOCRATES

The Greeks believed that happiness was rare and reserved only to those favored by the gods. The idea that happiness can be achieved through one's own efforts was considered to be hubris, a pride to be punished. Here comes Socrates who believed that we must concentrate our attention on the soul. "Moral life is superior to immorality because it leads to happiness. Happiness is dependent on virtue and righteousness, representing the ultimate goal of human existence"1.

In the Dialogues, having Socrates as the main character, such as recorded by Plato, the concept of happiness is discussed for the first time, mainly establishing that it is the goal of all human actions and it does not depend on outer things, but rather on the manner in which they are used. Money does not bring happiness, but rather how they are used. More, the idea that happiness consists of indulgence is rejected. The whole approach of Socrates is crystallized in a moral and just life in which wisdom leads to happiness.

2. ARISTIPPUS

A student of Socrates, Aristippus was the first thinker who developed a complete philosophy of happiness. But he was at the other end of the spectrum from his master. Living in luxury, he argued that happiness means seeking pleasure in the outside world and, thus, became the founder of hedonism. Today, it is evident that that this concept dominates the economic and trade world. Consumerism can be considered to be rooted in Aristippus' ideas.

3. EPICURUS

Epicurus' moral ("Letter to Monoeceus") can be summarized in the following four pieces of advice: search that pleasure which is not followed by pain, avoid the pain causing no pleasure; accept the pain that relieves you from greater suffering in the future or that will buy more pleasure, beware of the pleasure that will rob you of a greater pleasure in the future or that will eventually cause pain. Epicurus preferred the so-called "stable pleasure", quiet, durable, free from worries and emotions. Happiness is living life without worries and suffering. This ideal is easily achieved as elementary needs (hunger, thirst) are not numerous, nor pretentious. Desires that usually torment the mind of men (wealth, power, glory) are not necessary. According to Epicurus, "with bread and water, the wise disputes his happiness with the gods". …

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