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The Fear of Insignificance

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By infotainment’s craze for rating human beings The book is a uniue blend of an interpretation of the historical present and a poignant description of contemporary individual experience anxiety and hopes in which Strenger makes use of his decades of clinical exper L'un des meilleurs

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In  The Fear of Insignificance Carlo Strenger diagnoses the wide spread fear of the global educated class of leading insignificant lives Making use of cutting edge psychological philosophical sociological and economic theory he shows how these fears are generated Carlo is a Swiss I

Carlo Strenger Á 4 review

Ience in existential psychotherapy Without falling into the trap of simplistic self help advice Strenger shows how a process he calls active self acceptance together with serious intellectual investment in our worldviews can provide us with stable identity and meani I really enjoyed t Eyewitness Victorians: Written by Ann Kramer the Bonding Before Birth trap of simplistic self help advice Strenger shows how a process he calls active self acceptance Cook It Together together with serious intellectual investment in our worldviews can provide us with stable identity and meani I really enjoyed Earth A Visitor's Guide: Weird, Strange, Bizarre... and True t

10 thoughts on “The Fear of Insignificance

  1. says:

    Carlo is a Swiss Israeli psychologist a philosopher and an existential psychoanalyst He writes for several newspapers and lectures clinical psychology at the Telaviv university He's got a very own life landmark from being Jew to becoming atheist His wife is a political psychologist In his book he speaks with admiration about Karl Jaspers the German philosopher for some the exponent of German Existentialism his lungs problem deemed to be incurable and his determination to survive He lived until 86 years old Jaspers searched for lucidity not fame Strenger is very critical about the virus slogans of our time like Nike’s “just do it” and McDonalds' “what you see is what you get” Also the self celebrity as defined by ratings Wealth fame and power are not essential The Epicurist restricted life to its essential basic needs fulfilled included The solution to these societal problems mentality is greater individuality Erik Erikson spoke of “generativity” in mid life He cites abundantly the cases of midlife crisis experienced by Freud and Jung which implied prolonged isolation Also the corporate philosopher Charles Handy for a while he got voluntarily unemployed at 49 years old feeling “empty” and not satisfied with what he was doing; he decided to become a writer and an expert on conferences; in fact he became a very successful one Strenger points to an updated psychoanalysis Für eine aktuelle Psychoanalyse Identifies global myths Globaler mythos and highlights the soul reality “seelisch Realität” I have found it interesting the part when Strenger analyzed from the identity point of view the biographies of Philip Roth Ayaan Hirsi Ali and B Obama and others and favored this solution “the existential euation” is not to be “solved” but to be “lived” Though not an existentialist still I share some admiration for Jaspers I concur this is an important book as one way of looking at midlife and societyculture in the 21st century There are other ways For those who want a bit of the Poetry of Existence do check on this video about Jaspers his recollections of childhood his walks on the beach with his father but mainly THE SEA as a mirror of Life and Philosophy

  2. says:

    while the closing argument falls in line with his existential ideaology it's not a very strong one However Strenger does provide powerful insights to today's flawed ideaologies and give suggestions on how to fix them In this respect I feel that it is well worth the read

  3. says:

    A brilliant start section I II posing uestions pointing direct into the root of irrational anxiety of contemporary homo globalis However in section III the author unfortunately deviated from his original point of discussion and delved in an long dragged discussion of religious world viewsGOOD UOTESThe good life was one in which an individual came to full fruition The criteria for such fruition were no longer universal nor determined by catalogues of virtues predefined by an external authority like religion or social order but the internal coherence of characterOur existential euation is who we are The fulfilled life is not one in which the existential euation is solved but a life in which the existential euation is lived out fruitfully and creatively The resolution of this euation can only mean deathReal change often reuires something like metaphysical realization about what it means to be freeSometime the false itself is what the true self would have been if it could come to the fore Donald WinnicottSometimes acceptance of who we are opens the possibility of becoming who we can be; because as long as we rage against what we are transformation is simply not possibleThe crucial step is to accept that to become the author of our lives we need to accept that we haven't chosen the base material of who we are We can only choose to shape them with clear view of strength and weakness as Nietzsche says This process like stretching involves pain and reuires discipline Pairing down life to the essentialsMidlife can initiate a process in which one asks What am I really good at? What gives my life the most meaning? On what do I have to focus to leave a creation that has some lasting value?

  4. says:

    L'un des meilleurs livres ue j'aie lu Un chef d'oeuvre de philosophie contemporaine

  5. says:

    If you would like a uick fix to your existential angst you will be disappointed by this book However if you're after a uick fix then you should very much read this bookStrenger explores the way that humanity yearns for certainty and clarity of purpose and how various things religion for example soothe that need which ultimately is a need connected to denying our own mortality We are a uniue animal that is aware of the ultimate certainty we will die and searches for meaning Strenger posits are tied to this on some deep level in our psyche Religion comforts us that there will be an afterlife Creating great works of art comforts us that perhaps some part of us will live on and be remembered as does celebrity Bonds with others comfort us by way of our memory living on through the lives of the people we have connected to Being connected to some much larger idea such as evolution creationism capitalism communism etc strongly and seeing that said idea spreadsis accepted is another way to feel your death is not your endBut all of these methods of death denial other than the connection to others which is not a core focus of Strenger's exploration in this book can cause us to do regrettable things both for ourselves and for those around us Strenger looks at how we can develop a mindset that will allow us to find satisfaction and meaning in a thoughtful way that ultimately he hopes if enough people adopt this mindset will also allow us to live in harmony with our fellow humans Allowing the collective life of humanity itself to increase in uality achievement and if not immortality a good long lifeThis is not an easy holiday self help read the work is packed with details and references and if you're like me and like to keep track of interesting references to follow up later you'll struggle to digest than one chapter a sitting It reuires your attention to get the most out of it I do think it's worth it but just be prepared to read it in a setting that lets you focusI picked this book up in a Sydney airport bookstore a few years ago my eye caught by the title While from the outside most aspects of my life look relatively successful ever since I was a kid I've been plagued by the feeling that I wasn't enough on my own That I had to struggle to find some value to earn my right to live on this earth so yes self esteem issues but mixed with other things too So I've been a reader of 'self help' books since I was about ten years oldStrenger critiues many of these books because they freuently sell the lie that there truly is One Answer to finding your purpose One Thing that will solve your problems whether it be a new spiritual practice an new organisational method a new pop philosophy And I can't say I disagree with him There are many people out there whose only ualification if any is worked in marketing selling us answers purported to solve every problem under the sun for goodThe reality is that a Final Solution and yes Strenger is well aware of the connotation here and discusses the connection to the 40s Nazi mindset is not a possible thing to apply to all of humanity To think there is a single truth is to have a 'closed mindset' and 'closed mindsets' which cease to uestion and engage with their ideas defending them desperately as part of our own identities can become very dangerous A person who is so dependant on an idea that is is an essential part of who they are may resort to violence up to and including mass murder to defend those ideas And any challenge to the ideas of a closed mindset only strengthen that mindset because using philosophy and critical thought if odd limits when an idea is 'sacred' to youStrenger discusses that having an open mind is better but is uick to explain that this does NOT mean 'accepting' all worldviews as eual and valid He suggests that this ideal of progressives that you cannot critiue another worldview in order to have harmony will not result in harmony precisely because those with a closed mindset exist In addition there are ideas again like those in WW2 that cannot be tolerated as they uite literally state that other people must die as part of the ideaSo rather than a universal acceptance Strenger suggests that along with an open uestioning mind that seeks to uestion its beliefs and continue to be open to learning and research that we adopt an attitude of 'civilised disdain' For example perhaps you are a Christian and perhaps I am an atheist It is not necessary Strenger argues for us to accept each other's beliefs outright However so long as those beliefs are not causing actual harm to living things we can instead choose civilised disdain I can respect you as a person even as I ultimately disagree with your views on a fundamental levelIt is this approach Strenger offers that we can live in harmony in an increasingly connected world than ever confronted with ideas and cultures that are alien to us In addition we can develop our own worldviews in an informed uestioning way and while we won't find a single final answer for how we are to live perfectly we can find ways that satisfy and fulfil us as individuals and evolve these ways as needed because we too will continue to grow and change throughout our lives and encounters with othersHe also goes into the weird battles within progressive circles that I've seen myself online people competing to prove that their oppressed group is the most oppressed and therefore they as an individual are immune to criticism I say this while checking the boxes for three groups that meet that criteria myself and I agree with Strenger utterly Euality and fairness does not mean ceasing to investigate and uestion ideas even if those ideas belong to someone who has been disadvantaged by their ethnicity gender sexual orientation appearance disability etc People should be treated eually Ideas however should be weighted by their ability to withstand investigation and critical thought We can be human and respect other humans while also having inuiring active mindsHe also discusses how building our own meaning for a life well lived reuires examining ourselves our backgrounds what makes us 'us' in a rigorous way will lead to finding out what will allow us to thrive as humansMy favourite part of the book was definitely his case studies working as a psychologist however it was nice seeing concrete examples of people engaging with their own meanings through learning about themselves and their world and uestioning things they had always accepted as true without thinking about them This didn't lead necessarily to an abandoning of those things just that now they understand what made them so important to them as individualsWell there's my high level summary of the ideas in the book so here's a few uotes I liked'the idea that critical thought and the experience of meaning are inconsistent should make us suspicious rather than convince us''The unavoidable conseuence of the idea that worldviews could not be discussed reasonably is a facile relativism that claims there is simply no difference between carefully argued positions and beliefs that are held just because they seem right at the moment or because they charm us or provide us with comfort''whatever the charm of a comforting worldview may be in the end it cannot provide a stable foundation for out understanding of us our lives our world''A person who has no measure of their value other than how they measure up comparing themselves to everyone else online in their field etc is necessarily doomed to an enormous volatility in self esteem and likely to have very little resilience in dealing with the hardships or the successes and pleasures of life'

  6. says:

    According to Strenger we live in the era of Homo Globalis a very unhappy creature who is bombarded by useless and unwanted information Homo Globalis is also permanently interconnected and ranked on all social media and this creates major dissatisfaction even despairHow can an ordinary Homo Globalis compare with Lady Gaga and her million followers? How can anybody feel safe when an unremarkable comment on Twitter is disliked gets retweeted and ends up creating a surge of hatred?Conformity to unwritten rules mostly the infamous ”politically correct” is the name of the new global game but the results are a far cry from mutual respect and correctnesStrenger argues that it is humanly impossible to “respect” worldviews that one considers absurd stupid and unfair He suggest ”civilised disdain” instead which I find a wonderful concept Meaning I can disagree openly about someone’s belief and this person does not have the right to feel “offended” provided I don’t resort to violence or other aggressive actions But at least I would have the great relief not to be a hypocrite and pretend that I am fine with lots of things I am totally not fine withStrenger points out correctly that criticism only brings a defensive attitude and deepens the attachment to one worldviews which works in both directions so we should just agree to disagree and go our merry separate ways that is until somebody wants you to swallow their point of view with violence This connects with human fear of insignificance and the need to belong to something bigger than our limited existence We will die soon but our ”tribe” will live on and we cling desperately to whatever idea no matter how absurd or violent that promises some sort of immortalityUltimately religion provides comfort from fear of dying and that’s why lately we had a surge of crazy violent suicidal ideas instigated by a globality that came too fast for humankind to deal withStrenger tries to offer some hope at the end of this succint brilliant book but honestly considering the inane stupidity biological and cultural of humankind there is little hope for the future

  7. says:

    I really enjoyed this book by my good friend and colleague Carlo Strenger and found myself physically nodding in agreement at his trenchant critiue of our current global intellectual uandary He sets down with greater clarity than I have seen elsewhere exactly how I see the intellectual and cultural cul de sac of recent Western thought and praxis and appeals for a return to that fateful crossing on the pilgrimage of thought where leaders took the broad road of 'just do it' pop spirituality and political correctness instead of continuing on the path of struggle for intellectual and emotional meaning I don't go with his support for Dawkins Hitchens et al not just because of the venomous and rather self righteous nature of their attacks on all faith and religion but also because they come across as fundamentalists themselves This apart the book is a refreshing and honest search and that the search is incomplete he makes clear in the final chapter where he pleads for the elaboration of a Common Sacred Cause which is an open humane constructive world view I felt optimistic at the end that such an evolution of religion and meaning is possible and is under way and I will return to read the book again It says much asks good uestions and points in several fruitful directions

  8. says:

    Um livro excelente sobre o estado da arte da história contemporânea da humanidade São feitas críticas incisivas e bem argumentadas sobre o homem actual e seus valores Nesse sentido cunhou um termo sui generis para se referir ao homem moderno Homo Globalis Este livro despertou me para a necessidade de ter uma visão do mundo aberta e crítica pondo de parte o politicamente correcto Gosto particularmente da forma como é criticada a religião por não cair na sua demonização sendo ele um ateu cientista

  9. says:

    Frankly? I find it uite boring it was suggested me to read as a good book i had some good hopping but couldn't find anything worth about it Too generalist mixes a lot of theories talks about politics terrorism religion and other things mixing up all in a book that in the end it doesn't make much sense to me neither helps in any kind of way

  10. says:

    This book didn't uite live up to my expectations The number of interesting ideas did not justify the amount of text and the writing style sometimes resembles a public speech delivered at an academic gatheringThe book is composed of 3 parts The first part is basically a long and unpleasant rant against religion pop spirituality in particular and how people should study philosophy and humanitarian sciences The author voices some very emotional complaints but does not give any significant logical discussion and little evidence to support his claims If you read Dawkings or similar there's really no point reading any of that you can skip the first 13 of the book and go directly to part 2The second part was the most fruitful In it Dr Strenger introduced some ideas cited from other psychologists and sociologists that resonated with me although once again there wasn't much discussion around why they are correct or what could be the alternatives The final part is looking forward into the future and introduces the concept of civilized disdain which I found nice and useful But once again there was too much idle public speech discussion which is clearly meant as inspirational but probably could have reached that goal using half the number of pages

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