The Constitution vs. Early Philosophers

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The Constitution vs. Early Philosophers We all know that our Declaration was written to let us know what was happening in our world. It specifically showed us what actions Britain did to us and reassures the people of the United States that these incidents will no longer happen in our country. As our forefathers sat down to write this paper, they kept in mind the good of the nation and knew that we would look upon these words they wrote, forever in the future. But have you ever wondered what a person from the past might think of our Declaration of Independence? Our earlier authors have many of the same ideas the Declaration outlines. Specifically, Epicurus and Aristotle agree with our forefather’s idea of the rights of life, liberty and especially the pursuit of happiness. Another author that agrees with this document is Machiavelli. In his book, “The Prince” he lets us know about his feelings on prudence. If these philosophers were alive today, they would have only positive criticisms about one of the most famous documents of all time. “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (D of I 261). This statement, written by Thomas Jefferson, has to be one of the most controversial statements ever written. It does however agree with one of our earlier authors we read. Epicurus would agree with Jefferson in the manner that everyone should search for happiness. He tells us that “one must practice the things that produce happiness, since if that is present we have everything and if it is absent, we do everything in order to have it” (Letter to Menoeceus). It is apparent to Epicurus that the search for happiness is an absolute goal. Everyone either gets it or spends their life looking for it. Because of this, it is obvious to see how this author would agree with Jefferson by saying that we are given an unalienable right to pursue happiness. Another philosopher of our first semester that would have to agree with Jefferson is Aristotle. Unlike his teacher, Plato, Aristotle believed in the senses and also felt happiness was, what he called, one of the goods. “We think happiness is the most choiceworthy of all goods” (Nicmachean Ethics: Bk1 ch.

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