Sat., April 6 at Caveat in NYC See www.caveat.nyc Doors open 3:30pm, show 4pm to 6pm.
Limited seating! Get your tickets in advance here!
Do We Have the Right to be Unhappy?
Free love. Great drugs. Decent food. Not to mention a society free of disease, crime, and virtually any sort discomfort. What could possibly go wrong?
We’ll discuss whether technology is compatible with bravery, whether progress is actually progress, and whether the soul can survive the social conditioning required for a regime of Total Comfort. Here’s what the novel’s John the Savage has to say: “But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin … I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.”
Do we have the right to be unhappy? Perhaps that sounds like a silly question. But it may be that what at stake are freedom, passion, independence of thought, and maturity. Huxley’s novel evokes a long philosophical tradition preoccupied with related questions: can (and should) aristocratic values—nobility, courage, and excellence—survive a utilitarian calculus? Can a hedonistic—or for that matter, therapeutic—ethos triumph so thoroughly as to become socially lobotomizing? Do we prefer a meaningful life even if it comes at the cost of great suffering? We’ll be making connections to all the usual suspects: to name a few, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Burke, Rousseau, Tocqueville, Hegel …. oh, and Twitter. Twitter will probably come up.
Watch previous PEL Live events via this YouTube playlist.