Author(s): Darrin M. McMahon
Happiness and its pursuit have been a constant source of fascination and attraction for thousands of years. In ancient Greek tragedy, happiness was considered a gift of the gods. Now we consider it a right. Why did this change and what does it tell us about our society? In "In Pursuit of Happiness", cultural historian Darrin McMahon offers a brilliant summation of the history of happiness, and its evolution from divine gift to natural human entitlement. Central to the development of Christianity, ideas of happiness assumed their modern form during the Enlightenment. McMahon follows this great search through to the present day, showing how our modern quest for the holy grail' of happiness continues to generate new forms of pleasure, but also, paradoxically, new forms of pain. Perfect happiness, like the holy grail, may exist only in our minds, and McMahon helps us discover that as for Cervantes' knight of sad countenance, Quixote, to travel is better than to arrive. First published June 2006.
McMahon shows how the Ancient Greeks considered happiness a gift of the gods, whereas we now view it as a right ... His method made this reader shout aloud with joy -- and happiness was contained for me within nothing less than the canon The Times
Darrin McMahon is the author of Enemies of the Enlightenment: The French Counter-Enlightenment and the Making of Modernity. McMahon is currently a professor at Florida State University and writes regularly for various publications including the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, and Daedalus.