"Shit happens," is what she said to me when I tried explaining why I couldn't end this relationship I found myself to have suddenly become a part of. She knows just about the most anyone can possibly know about me. She knows that I have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that having sex is normal, and that having sex with multiple people in one's lifetime is more and more accepted. She knows that I fear that the end of this relationship will be the beginning of my slutdom and my initiation into normality. Call me old-fashioned, but I have morals, morals of an eighty year old grandmother. It's not like I was waiting until marriage (I've already indirectly stated that I stopped believing in marriage), but I suppose I was waiting for that one person I believed would be the only person I'd ever be sexual with if I were ever to be sexual with anyone.
The same man who coupled liberty and the pursuit of happiness so closely in the Declaration of Independence could later state without equivocation that 'Happiness is the aim of life, but virtue is the foundation of happiness.'
At this particular time in my college career, I am taking PHIL380, Philosophy Topics: Morality and Happiness. For this particular course, I had to read an excerpt of Darrin M. McMahon's From the Happiness of Virtue to the Virtue of Happiness: 400 B.C.- A.D. 1780, from which the above quote came from. It, the course, fit my schedule perfectly (almost, considering I don't particularly enjoy going to class when the sun is down and my productivity in all else is heightened) and it sounds like your easy A, but honestly, I signed up because it almost felt like I needed it. When registration for this semester was happening, I was studying abroad in France. It was on the top of the list of places I've always wanted to visit since studying French in high school and it is also on the top of the "Most Depressed Countries" list. I was not living there long enough to learn exactly why, but while there, I admitted to being stressed for the first time and "happiness" was something I thought I could learn a thing or two about.
Getting happy about happiness
in my dorms in France.
...look for a moment at the principal word in ancient Greek for happiness, eudaimonia, one of a constellation of closely related terms that includes eutychia (lucky), olbios (blessed; favored), and makarios (blessed; happy; blissful). In some ways encompassing the meaning of all of these terms, eudaimon (happy) literally signifies 'good spirit' or 'good god,' from eu=good and daimon=demon/spirit. In colloquial terms, to be eudaimon was to be lucky, for in a world fraught with constant upheaval, uncertainty, and privation, to have a good spirit working on one's behalf was the ultimate mark of good fortune. Even more it was a mark of divine favor, for the gods, it was believed, worked through the daimones, emissaries and conductors of their will. And this, in the pre-Socratic world, was the key to happiness. To fall from divine favor - or to fall under the influence of an evil spirit - was to be dysdaimon or kakodaimon -'unhappy' (dys/kako=bad), or more colorfully, 'in the shit,' a not altogether inappropriate play on the Greek kakka (shit/turds). In a world governed by supernatural forces, human happiness was a plaything of the gods, a spiritual force beyond our control. When viewed through mortal eyes, the world's happenings - and so our happiness - could only appear random, a function of chance. Central to the outlook of Hesiod and Homer, with strong echoes in many of the lamentations of Greek tragedy, this conception of happiness would prove remarkably stubborn. We need only think of the word itself: in every Indo European language, the modern words for happiness, as they took shape in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, are all cognate with luck. And so we get 'happiness' from the early Middle English (and Old Norse) happ- chance, fortune, what happens in the world - and the Mittelhochdeutsch Glück, still the modern German word for happiness and luck. There is the Old French heur (luck; chance), root of bonheur (happiness), and heureux (happy) ; and the Portuguese felicidade, the Spanish felicidad, and the Italian felicità - all derived ultimately from the Latin felix for luck (sometimes fate). Happiness, in a word, is what happens to us. If we no longer say that we are kakodaimon when things don't go our way, we still sometimes acknowledge, rather more prosaically, that "shit happens."