Cover image for Seven ways of looking at pointless suffering : what philosophy can tell us about the hardest mystery of all / Scott Samuelson.
Seven ways of looking at pointless suffering : what philosophy can tell us about the hardest mystery of all / Scott Samuelson.
Title Variants:
7 ways of looking at pointless suffering
Publication Information:
Chicago : The University of Chicago Press, 2018.

Physical Description:
270 pages ; 24 cm
Introduction : the paradox of pointless suffering -- Three modern ways of looking at pointless suffering -- We should eliminate pointless suffering : on John Stuart Mill and the paradox of Utilitarianism -- We should embrace pointless suffering : on Friedrich Nietzsche and the challenge of the Eternal return -- We must take responsibility for pointless suffering : on Hannah Arendt and the banality of evil -- Interlude on the problem of evil -- Four perennial ways of looking at pointless suffering -- Pointless suffering reveals God : on the Book of Job and the significance of freedom -- Pointless suffering atones us with nature : on Epictetus and the gratitude for existence -- Interlude on heaven and hell -- Pointless suffering evokes our humanity : on Confucius and the and the rituals of compassion -- Pointless suffering inspires art : on Sidney Bechet and the music of Blues-understanding -- Conclusion : the way of suffering humanly -- A sad postlude.
It's right there in the Book of Job: "Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward." Suffering is an inescapable part of the human condition -- which leads to a question that has proved just as inescapable: Why? Why do we suffer? Why do people die young? Is there any point to our pain, physical or emotional? Do horrors like hurricanes have meaning? In Seven Ways of Looking at Pointless Suffering, Scott Samuelson tackles that hardest question of all, traveling through the history of philosophy and religion, but he also attending closely to the everyday world we live in. While always taking the question of suffering seriously, Samuelson is just as likely to draw lessons from Bugs Bunny as from Confucius, from his time teaching philosophy to prisoners as from Hannah Arendt’s attempts to come to terms with the Holocaust. He guides us with care and clarity through the centuries of arguments that have been offered to answer this fundamental question, explores the many ways that we have tried to minimize or eliminate suffering, and -- most important -- shows our attempts to find ways to live with pointless suffering. Ultimately, Samuelson shows, to be fully human means to acknowledge a mysterious paradox: we must simultaneously accept suffering and oppose it. And understanding that is itself a step towards acceptance.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
204.42 SAM Book Adult General Collection

On Order