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Marie Helweg-Larsen, Dickinson College. This year’s World Happiness Report again ranks Denmark among the top three happiest of […]
Last semester, halfway through a meeting of my ‘Meaning of Life’ seminar, I found myself lying on a window seat along the eastern wall of the classroom. I was scheduled for spinal surgery in a few months, and sitting and standing were tough. I needed a break.
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Legend tells that when the Romans defeated the slave revolt led by the gladiator Spartacus in 71 BCE, they searched in vain for the real Spartacus. Every captive proclaimed “I am Spartacus”, in a sublime gesture of solidarity.
In 1826, at the age of 20, John Stuart Mill sank into a suicidal depression, which was bitterly ironic, because his entire upbringing was governed by the maximisation of happiness. How this philosopher clambered out of the despair generated by an arch-rational philosophy can teach us an important lesson about suffering.