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The Age of Happiness - Dutch Opinions on Happiness during the Enlightenment, 1658-1835

Author(s): Peter Buijs

Journal: United Academics Journal of Social Sciences
ISSN 2212-5736

Volume: 3;
Issue: 15;
Start page: 50;
Date: 2013;
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Keywords: happiness | enlightenment | philosophy | Dutch Republic | sociology | intellectual history

From the 1650s onwards - driven by changes in the material, intellectual, and communicational culture - an elite of philosophers, writers, and journalists became convinced that happiness was not only to be expected in heaven but on earth as well. This spectacular change in mentality instigated a lively and European-wide debate on happiness in which Dutch writers too participated. In this article - a summary of my 2007 dissertation The Age of happiness - I will give a short overview of this Dutch debate on happiness. From the 1780s onwards a shift in this debate can be detected from a rather abstract notion of happiness, in which earthly bliss is connected primarily with virtue and perfection, towards a notion of happiness in which it is connected with personal aspects of happiness like friendship, love, marriage, and domesticity, and in which we, from an early 21st century perspective, can still recognize ourselves.
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