The Birth of Modern Happiness
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This chapter argues that the experience of happiness is a specifically modern occurrence that has gradually transformed and eventually replaced the medieval experience of sin. The seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries are depicted as the decisive period in which, after hundreds of years of Christian emphasis on the afterlife, Western culture again started to envision the ideal of human existence predominantly in the earthly realm. The analysis focuses in on the social, religious, ethical and political processes that lead to the birth of the experience of happiness and describes its main characteristics. Chapter 6 also describes how modern happiness manifests itself in the form of two main modes: the religious experience of happiness and the secular experience of happiness. It argues that these two modes of happiness have created two sets of distinctive basic characteristics of happiness within which the majority of strategies of happiness and individual experiences of happiness emerged, and continue to emerge, in Western culture.