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Book Note: de Botton’s Status Anxiety

January 14, 2014

Introduction by Howard:

You may find this brief review and reaction to “Status Anxiety” by Alain de Botton interesting. I heard him speaking a little while on a radio program and was impressed. He and other careful thinkers like Karen Armstrong these days offer perspectives and approaches to living compassionately that I believe transcend religious particulars, but do not “contradict” all of religion. And their work cannot be brushed aside as merely “New Age”.

the archives near Emmaus

Alan de Botton, Status Anxiety (New York: Vintage, 2004). (

Alan de Botton’s Status Anxiety is part social criticism, part philosophical inquiry into “A worry, so pernicious as to be capable of ruining extended stretches of our lives, that we are in danger of failing to conform to the ideals of success laid down by our society and that we may as a result be stripped of dignity and respect; a worry that we are currently occupying too modest a rung or are about to fall to a lower one.” [1] This phenomenon is caused by our desire for love from others, our expectations in life, the myth of meritocracy, the social snobbery of the elite we admire, and our dependence of oft ignored factors such as luck, fickle talent, or the profitability of our employer. We allow these factors to determine our worth. What solutions might be…

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