philosophy of boredom

Any concept that attracted comment from Kant, Goethe, and other giants accomplished enough to be identifiable by one name must be complex, profound, and worthy of attention even in a sweltering August… “Very few people,” writes the witty Norwegian philosopher Lars Svendsen, “have any well-thought-out concept of boredom.” That hasn’t stopped folks from trying to capture it in a phrase or tossed-off digression.

Kierkegaard declared it “the root of all evil,” following on church fathers who condemned its forerunner, the sin of acedia. Svendsen, a professor at the University of Bergen, cleverly updates that, noting that boredom has been accused of causing such modern ills as “drug abuse, alcohol abuse, smoking, eating disorders, promiscuity, vandalism…”

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