Last week’s installment in my geopolitics series received a mixed response from readers. There were three main arguments against my article on the relationship between the individual and community. Some said the nation, family and individual happiness could be reconciled; others argued that happiness had a subtler meaning than I gave it; and others still said my focus on the nation, family and the individual left out religion. The comments were well taken. Rather than try to respond to each email, I will grapple with the problems presented here. The Good Life In speaking of the happy life, we also need to speak of the good life, and the difference between the two. There are many definitions of human happiness, but they all advocate that it derives from a singular goodness. That goodness might come from placing one’s body between his nation and war’s desolation. It might also come from, as Plato argues, self-knowledge and living the life of the mind. Both of these definitions, however, define happiness as intimately linked to duty because they both conjure pain or anguish. The pain that comes from military service is obvious; the pain involved in living a life of the mind comes […]

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