The Quest for Happiness
Down through the ages, philosophers and poets, politicians and theologians, friends and strangers have argued about the nature of happiness. They haven’t been able to settle on what happiness is exactly, but that hasn’t kept them from chasing it down. In the end, and the beginning, too, happiness may be a lot easier to experience than to define.
German philosophers are
not noted for their lightheartedness. Consider Hegel, who believed that it
was the fate of great men like himself to be denied “what is commonly
called happiness.” Hegel conceded that “one may contemplate
history from the point of view of happiness,” but he saw the task as
essentially futile. “History is not the soil in which happiness
grows,” he concluded. “The periods of happiness in it are blank
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Darrin M. McMahon is the Ben Weider Associate Professor of European History at Florida State University, and the author of Happiness: A History, which will be published this fall by Grove/Atlantic.more from this author >>