The Works of Voltaire: A Contemporary Version - Vol. 10

By Voltaire; William F. Fleming | Go to book overview

A PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY.

HAPPY—HAPPILY.

WHAT is called happiness is an abstract idea, composed of various ideas of pleasure; for he who has but a moment of pleasure is not a happy man, in like manner that a moment of grief constitutes not a miserable one. Pleasure is more transient than happiness, and happiness than felicity. When a person says—I am happy at this moment, he abuses the word, and only means I am pleased. When pleasure is continuous, he may then call himself happy. When this happiness lasts a little longer, it is a state of felicity. We are sometimes very far from being happy in prosperity, just as a surfeited invalid eats nothing of a great feast prepared for him.

The ancient adage, "No person should be called happy before his death," seems to turn on very false principles, if we mean by this maxim that we should not give the name of happy to a man who had been so constantly from his birth to his last hour. This continuity of agreeable moments is rendered impossible by the constitution of our organs, by that of the elements on which we depend, and by that of mankind, on whom we depend still more. Constant happiness is the philosopher's stone of the soul; it

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The Works of Voltaire: A Contemporary Version - Vol. 10
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Works of Voltaire *
  • The Works of Voltaire *
  • List of Plates *
  • A Philosophical Dictionary 5
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