Olga O. Goncharova

Independent researcher, Moscow, Russia

Articles. Research
The article is devoted to the analysis of happiness as a category of social theory, which—at the beginning of the XXI century—became not only a new subject of sociological research but also the basis of government programs in several countries, including the United Kingdom. “Happiness” became the basis of social order due to a revival of the interest of modern scholars in the works of Jeremy Bentham and other philosophers of the Enlightenment. In these works were considered, among other things, the possibilities of achieving universal happiness. However, the real reason for the actualization of this category is its crisis in economic science caused by the “Easterlin paradox,” that is, the absence of a direct and unequivocal correlation between income growth and the level of happiness of the population. The article provides a detailed analysis of the sources of the concept of happiness as a category of social order, primarily the work of
the cameralists and Johann Heinrich Gottlieb Justi, the most famous representative of this school. The analysis demonstrates that the idea of happiness as the basis of social order has already been experienced in the period of cameralism when it was integrated into the work of the enlighteners. However, without further development, this idea eventually left the language of social sciences completely immersed in economic theory. One of the reasons for the decline of this category was the lack of “stable” mechanisms for including the happiness of individuals as a part of the common good, and therefore the impossibility of converting “happiness” from an existential into a social category. We provide an analysis of the reasons why none of the proposed theories of common happiness in the XVIII-XIX centuries was consistent. Even before the Enlightenment, the category survived the crisis in social theory and a return to it requires a serious rethinking in the context of the heritage of philosophers of the XVIII-XIX centuries.
Keywords: happiness, cameralists, Justi, Smith, common good, Enlightenment