chapter  5
33 Pages

The Concept Analysed

Nonetheless there seems no warrant for assuming that the concept of happiness that we are concerned with is necessarily logically tied up with the idea of good fortune. The fact that the word 'education' may derive from the Latin word educate, meaning to draw forth or lead out, cannot seriously be used as an argument to show that our conception of education must be based upon some notion of drawing out. So why should the derivation of the word happy be presumed to establish that what we now mean by 'happiness' must involve an element of good fortune? Etymology pertains to words; and words and concepts, though they march hand in hand, are clearly distinct. One word may sometimes be used in reference to several different concepts (e.g. the word bow: bow and arrow bow on her hair). Conversely one concept may be picked out by a number of different words as pikelet and crumpet drawing room and lounge or noir and black each do. We are concerned with the nature of happiness which is to say with giving as detailed and explicit account as we

can of what is going on if someone is happy or what it means to describe someone as happy; it may transpire that we do have reason to suggest that nobody could be happy without a degree of good fortune, but there are no grounds for assuming from the outset that the happy man must be blessed, least of all because the word we are using originally had such connotations. It may no longer have them or, more radically, we may sensibly argue that if the word still has such connotations in typical usage, it ought not to have, just as one might plausibly maintain that the connotations that the word 'anarchist' used to have (solitary individual, wide brimmed hat, long shabby coat, smoking bomb) are no longer appropriate, given the nature of those who are called and call themselves anarchists today. It is words, not concepts, that carry connotations. As usage of words changes, so too do connotations. Consequently past connotations of the word 'happy' do not necessarily tell us anything about the concept of happiness.