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Milton J. Madison - An American Refugee Now Living in China, Where Liberty is Ascending

Federalism, Free Markets and the Liberty To Let One's Mind Wander. I Am Very Worried About the Fate of Liberty in the USA, Where Government is Taking people's Lives ____________________________________________________________________________________________ "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Tolerance in the face of tyranny is no virtue." -Barry Goldwater-

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What did the founding fathers mean by pursuit of happiness? | The Hot Word | Hot & Trending Words Daily Blog at Dictionary.com

I think that writer here is being disingenuous and folds in the concept of 'contributions to society' or a clear leaning towards some kind of social compact or social responsibility being imbedded in the rights being discussed. This is a more modern philosophical construct and one that I find not particularly compelling since it is generally viewed as the foundation by the modern leftists to force people to act altruistically in a way that they alone think is altruistic.

This is not what these folks had in mind. The original philosophy from Locke of life, liberty and property being unalienable rights are those rights that one gets from the virtue of being human did not include some kind of social compact. In fact, Adam Smith had written about sympathy in the Theory of Moral Sentiments, in which he explained that it is man's nature to act in altruistic fashion but this does not lead one to conclude that this is a right or compulsion but just a characteristic of man.

However, in the Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, too late for the framers to have read......
As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other eases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.
This kind of thinking, probably much discussed prior to publication destroys the notion that happiness can be construed in any way as being a compulsion to altruism.

The transformation by Jefferson from property to happiness is a beautiful re-creation of Locke's original thinking. Happiness includes their property as a subset but it grants us so much more. It is the purely individual right for people to pursue their dreams and live a life in which they see fit, within an accepting society. Yes, not hedonistic, but one that is tolerant of others and allowing those constructive dreams to have a place to be nurtured and flourish. It is also important to layer on that Jefferson also believed that it was the right and responsibility of the people to provide a check against the state that naturally grows it own rights at the costs of the people's. So their right to happiness also has an embedded responsibility to check the power of government so that not only us but our descendents have an opportunity to enjoy these rights.

But I think that happiness as Samuel Johnson defined it sums it all up for me...
Happiness- Háppiness. n.s. [from happy.]

1. Felicity; state in which the desires are satisfied.
2. Good luck; good fortune.
3. Fortuitous elegance; unstudied grace.
I think in this definition that the concept of unstudied grace is one that is most attractive to me. Unstudied means natural and grace is God's gifts to us. So it is also the right to live in a world where God is allowed to bless us.

Read more at http://hotword.dictionary.com/happiness/#PW52gYqAjSquYuIa.99

What did the founding fathers mean by pursuit of happiness? | The Hot Word | Hot & Trending Words Daily Blog at Dictionary.com


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