Higher Goods

HAPPINESS: n. a state of well-being and contentment

The term happiness originates from the 14th-century Middle English hap, which means “chance, fortune.”

In fact, the words translated “happy” in most European languages originally meant “lucky.” While happiness first appeared in print in the 1520s, by the 1590s it had begun to carry the force of “a pleasant and contented mental state,” the usage 18th-century hymnist Isaac Watts employed when, in his book Logic, he wrote, “Happiness consists in the attainment of the highest and most lasting natural good.”

Watts’s straightforward statement makes clear that happiness is not a matter of chance or good luck. It also raises the...


is a retired secondary teacher of English and philosophy. For forty years he challenged students to dive deep into the classics of the Western canon, to think and write analytically, and to find the cultural constants reflected throughout that literature, art, and thought.

This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #68, Spring 2024 Copyright © 2024 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/article/salvo68/higher-goods


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