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Words and MeaningsLexical Semantics Across Domains, Languages, and Cultures$
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Cliff Goddard and Anna Wierzbicka

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199668434

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199668434.001.0001

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Happiness and human values in cross-cultural and historical perspective

Happiness and human values in cross-cultural and historical perspective

(p.102) 5 Happiness and human values in cross-cultural and historical perspective
Words and Meanings

Cliff Goddard

Anna Wierzbicka

Oxford University Press

Although ‘happiness’ is arguably the paramount ideal of Anglo modernity, this chapter shows it to be a culturally and historically contingent construct. It explicates English “happiness concepts” and shows how they are both similar to and different from Tibetan/Buddhist concepts, as popularised in the writings of the Dalai Lama, from the German concept of Glück that was so important in the thinking of Kant, Freud, and Nietzsche, among others, and from Socrates’ thinking on eudaimonia and the good life. Seeking to understand the polysemy and cultural distinctiveness of modern Anglo happiness concepts, the chapter reconstructs several stages in their semantic development from the 16th century to modern times, laying emphasis on the contribution of utilitarian thinking in 18th century England and on the American Declaration of Independence and the legacy of the American revolution.

Keywords:   happiness, Dalai Lama, historical semantics, happiness studies

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