Happiness and the Golden Mean

1396 Words 6 Pages
In the Declaration of Independence, it states that all men, being equal by nature, have the equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is interesting from Thomas Jefferson’s point of view that he says that we have the right to pursue happiness. When he said this, what did he mean in ways of understanding it and pursing this happiness? To live, as we have experienced, is itself a means to living well. The same applies to freedom. We cannot pursue happiness if we cannot freely carry out the choices we make. “If everything is determined for us, if the pattern of our life is imposed upon us, there would be no sense in talking about planning our lives or about adopting a plan for living well.” We need to stay and be …show more content…
Meanwhile, if anything that is good for us is something that ought to be desired, then in reality we ought to desire what is good for us. When we ‘ought’ to do anything, it comes with a notion of an obligation or duty of some kind. This means that there is a responsibility to do what we ought to do. By saying that we ought to pursue happiness puts us in a place to make an effort to live well and find a way to make a good life for ourselves. In doing so, it means that we need the ‘real goods’ to make a good life. That is why we have the right to the ‘real goods.’ If we did not have that freedom, then it would mean that there was no obligation to even pursue happiness or a good life in which Thomas Jefferson was referring to in having the right to pursue happiness. In having the same human nature, Thomas Jefferson believed that all human beings had the same natural rights. It is the idea that what is good for one is good for all. This led to adapting Aristotle’s view on the pursuit of happiness that all human beings are in pursuit of the same set of ‘real goods’ for themselves. Before presenting what Aristotle means to obtain the ‘real goods,’ there needs to be an understanding of what it means by “ought to pursue happiness.” This can be explored through