The Pursuit of Happiness in the Democratic Creed: An Analysis of Political Ethics

By Ursula M. von Eckardt | Go to book overview

11
TO SECURE THESE RIGHTS

1. The Meaning of the Pursuit of Happiness: A Summary

The foregoing chapters have explored the meaning of the concept of an inalienable human right to the pursuit of happiness which is implicit in the philosophy of government contained in The Declaration of Independence.

In summary, the foundation of this right is (as stated in the psychology of John Locke) man's natural tendency to desire happiness. This natural tendency is not deliberate action with some rationally conceived purpose, but the continuous experience of pleasure and pain which is annexed to human reflections and sensations, and thereby provides the dynamics of human behavior. Men have no innate idea of happiness as such; but they experience, at the most direct, immediate level of reflection, their own pursuit of happiness: that is, the longing for permanent enjoyment and ease, and some feeling of dissatisfaction with every present experience that always spurs

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