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When Bad Things Happen to Other People

by John Portmann

  • ISBN: 9780415923347
  • ISBN10: 0415923344

When Bad Things Happen to Other People

by John Portmann

  • List Price: $64.95
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Routledge
  • Publish date: 12/01/1999
  • ISBN: 9780415923347
  • ISBN10: 0415923344
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Description: Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies, " Gore Vidal once observed. It's funny, it's terrible, and it's true. What is it in human nature that sometimes makes us derive pleasure from others', even friends', suffering? In this provocative and groundbreaking book, John Portmann explores this all-too-human foible -- what the Germans call Schadenfreude.

Disagreement about suffering -- what it is, who deserves it, and how much has compelled philosophers for centuries. Portmann examines the complexity inherent to Schadenfreude by engaging not only philosophers like Kant and Nietzsche but a variety of thinkers and writers including Freud, Baudelaire, Dickens and even contemporary novelists like Umberto Eco and Toni Morrison. What makes this book compulsively readable is that Schadenfreude becomes a springboard to explore many pressing issues in contemporary society ranging from debates over institutional punishment, (for example, justification for penal codes help explain how we think of ourselves as high-minded advocates of justice rather than a vengeful culture), to our insatiable desire for media images of power, scandal and betrayal.

When Bad Things Happen to Other People makes a vital contribution to not only philosophy, human behavior, and ethics, but challenges all of us to reexamine our feelings about suffering, sympathy and the ambiguity of justice. Encyclopedic in its scholarship, this work is accessible, original and strangely intimate, describing a feeling we've all known, at least occasionally, but will rarely admit to having.

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When Bad Things Happen to Other People. FORMER LIBRARY COPY, HAS LIBRARY STAMP AND TAG, CLEAN PAGES.............CASE-TB-71.
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