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The Roots Of Happiness Essay

1551 words - 6 pages

Early Modern Europe experienced several tragedies in which the citizens sensed that there must be a better way to live where happiness was more familiar. Alterations for what truly defines absolute happiness in a society during these times of catastrophe were expressed through utopian literature. Thomas More’s Utopia, Tomasso Campanella’s City of the Sun, and Caron De Beaumarchais’ The Marriage of Figaro together attempt to answer what truly creates a happy civilization during different periods of crisis within Europe. Each of these utopian literature’s suggest a different origin that happiness derives from, soundly signifying that change in Europe would be beneficial. The revolutionary ideas of change in Europe proposed by Utopia, City of the Sun, and The Marriage of Figaro through their individual utopias, demonstrated their beliefs that such change of social classes, the expression of pleasures morally, and a more unified government would lead to a happier, less corrupt society.
During the early sixteenth century there was a myth that education and learning through the “true” Christian message would bring back the ancient church and inspire solutions to social and political problems; the prime example being Utopia by Thomas More. Utopia encouraged happiness by fundamentally living a morally correct life. According to Utopia the removal of private property played key importance to living ethically because with common property, there is no greed. Furthermore, the abolishment of private property also meant there would be no means of commerce which would also apply to the removal of greed. Hythloday expresses his distaste of private property when saying, “But so long as it shall continue, so long shall remain among the most and best part of men the heavy and inevitable burden of poverty and wretchedness” (More, 125). Therefore, the idea of communal property eliminating greed would force people to live morally, indirectly encouraging happiness in the society.
Another interesting approach that Utopia takes to encourage happiness is to have no punishment by death to those who steal. The belief was that without the punishment of death and instead forcing the accused to manual labor, in return, there would be no thieves. Showing Utopias Erasmian influence, this idea was derived directly from the Romans who also used manual labor for punishment of thievery. Clearly then, this utopia was pushing for happiness that would not be focused on materialistic goods. Instead, these utopians derived their happiness from moral pleasure, or any enjoyment that was not destructive to the body or morals of themselves or others. For example, the people of Utopia obtained gratification from philosophical debate between others. Happiness was very important to this society for the reason that they believed that God had created man to be happy and enjoy life. Furthermore, God had planted appetites in man for good and healthy things in order to promote a happy life. Thus,...

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