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

By Ursula M. von Eckardt | Go to book overview

12
IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS

Bolingbroke and Hutcheson, even Locke and Burlamaqui, denied that their philosophy was dependent upon metaphysical assumptions, and that, consequently, it would be limited by certain theoretical doctrines. But their denial notwithstanding, the metaphysical and ontological framework of their ethics is as solid as any the Ancients or the Scholastics provided. Historically, this framework has since been transformed into a different one. Once self-evident truths now hang suspended as valuejudgments and empirical observations show themselves to be presuppositions.

In order to evaluate the pursuit of happiness doctrine in contemporary terms, it is necessary to trace -- in very broad strokes -- the chief development of nineteenth and twentieth century thought.


1. Evolution and the New Metaphysics

The science of mechanics, culminating in the brilliant system of Isaac Newton, failed in one respect which was to de-

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