How To Declare Independence And Start Pursuing Your Happiness

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Many folks think Thomas Jefferson “borrowed” the phrase “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” from John Locke. The 17th Century British philosopher and physician famously wrote, in the unsigned Second Treatise Concerning Civil Government, that government exists to protect one’s life, liberty, and property. Sounds awfully similar to the words used by our Founding Father nearly ninety years later.

Significantly, Locke’s focus on personal “property” breaks from the sense of Thomas Hobbes. In his 1651 treatise Leviathan, Hobbes paints a sovereign-centric ideal. In this “social contract,” citizens cede personal freedoms to the ruler in exchange for protection. Without such protection, the contract is invalidated.

Bear in mind, Hobbes wrote this while in exile during the English Civil War between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists. He rejected Aristotle’s premise that man is driven by Continue Reading “How To Declare Independence And Start Pursuing Your Happiness”

How to Live the Good Life with No Regrets

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“Why is This Important to You?”

Socrates believed “the unexamined life is not worth living.” He may not have coined the phrase “know thyself,” but he’s famous for traipsing the streets of Athens examining lives by nagging prominent people until he proved they did not “know thineselfs.”

So effective was he the good city-state of democracy voted to put him to death. Socrates, despite his friends’ wishes, readily agreed to drink the hemlock and thus first came into usage the phrase “good career move.”

But before he died, Socrates perfected a method that would become his lasting legacy. Used today anywhere from the courtroom, to the classroom, to the psychologist’s couch, we call it the “Socratic Method” (which just shows you how terribly dull and unimaginative philosophers can be at times).

In a nutshell, here’s how it works. Come up with a question or hypothesis and keep asking annoying questions (often the same one or of the same form) until you’ve eliminated all Continue Reading “How to Live the Good Life with No Regrets”