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Herbert Spencer

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The pursuit of individual happiness within those limits prescribed by social conditions, is the first requisite to the attainment of the greatest general happiness.
--
Ethics (New York:1915), § 70, pp. 190-191

 
Herbert Spencer

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Life, liberty, and the pursuit of property were just what Aristotle did not talk about. They are the conditions of happiness; but the essence of happiness, according to Aristotle, is virtue. So the moderns decided to deal with the conditions and to let happiness take care of itself.

 
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There is something ridiculous and even quite indecent in an individual claiming to be happy. Still more a people or a nation making such a claim. The pursuit of happiness… is without any question the most fatuous which could possibly be undertaken. This lamentable phrase ‘’the pursuit of happiness'’ is responsible for a good part of the ills and miseries of the modern world.

 
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Among the sentiments of most powerful operation upon the human heart, and most highly honorable to the human character, are those of veneration for our forefathers, and of love for our posterity. They form the connecting links between the selfish and the social passions. By the fundamental principle of Christianity, the happiness of the individual is Later-woven, by innumerable and imperceptible ties, with that of his contemporaries: by the power of filial reverence and parental affection, individual existence is extended beyond the limits of individual life, and the happiness of every age is chained in mutual dependence upon that of every other.

 
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Certainly the Government of the United States is a limited government, and so is every State government a limited government. With us this idea of limitation spreads through every form of administration — general, State, and municipal — and rests on the great distinguishing principle of the recognition of the rights of man. The ancient republics absorbed the individual in the state — prescribed his religion and controlled his activity. The American system rests on the assertion of the equal right of every man to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, to freedom of conscience, to the culture and exercise of all his faculties. As a consequence the State government is limited — as to the General Government in the interest of union, as to the individual citizen in the interest of freedom.

 
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We ought to consider what is the end of government, before we determine which is the best form. Upon this point all speculative politicians will agree, that the happiness of society is the end of government, as all Divines and moral Philosophers will agree that the happiness of the individual is the end of man. From this principle it will follow, that the form of government which communicates ease, comfort, security, or, in one word, happiness, to the greatest number of persons, and in the greatest degree, is the best.

 
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