In "The Fear of Insignificance" Carlo Strenger diagnoses the wide-spread fear of the global educated class of leading insignificant lives. Making use of cutting-edge psychological, philosophical, sociological, and economic theory, he shows how these fears are generated by infotainment's craze for rating human beings. The book is a unique blend of an interpretation of the historical present and a poignant description of contemporary individual experience, anxiety, and hopes, in which Strenger makes use of his decades of clinical experience in existential psychotherapy. Without falling into the trap of simplistic self-help advice, Strenger shows how a process he calls active self-acceptance, together with serious intellectual investment in our worldviews, can provide us with stable identity and meaning.
Introduction: Our Historical Moment PART I: THE DEFEAT OF MIND The Years of the Golden Calf 'Just do it', the Celebrity Culture and the Designed Self The Defeat of Mind: Relativism and Pop-Spirituality PART II: FROM THE I-COMMODITY TO THE DRAMA OF INDIVIDUALITY The Drama of Individuality From 'Just do it!' to Active Self Acceptance Paring Down Life to the Essentials: An Epicurean Proposal PART III: RECLAIMING OUR MINDS Escaping the Platonic Cave Religion and Science: Civilized Disdain and Epicurean Laughter Towards World-Citizenship and a Coalition of Open Worldviews
CARLO STRENGER Associate Professor in the Dept of Psychology at Tel Aviv University, Israel.
"The Fear of Insignificance is the type of book that can change your life. . .because Strenger presents his theories in mind-opening ways. . .[he] defends the liberal's right to a firmly entrenched worldview opposed to others, as opposed to fashionable relativist postmodernism. Strenger encourages the reader to create meaning autonomously and not shy away from the painful work involved in becoming a genuine individual." - Rana Verbin:. Haaretz, Best Books of the Year. June 6 2010 "Carlo Strenger. . .creates a wide ranging interpretation, not only of the situation of today's individual, but of global developments that affect us all. . .Gradually a tragic picture of Homo globalis evolves; locked into illusions without being able to see the bars of the cage. . .Part of the book's fascination resides in Strenger's search for a new balance that will help the reader to deal with the human fear of death. . .Strenger succeeds with great sensitivity in presenting the stories of inspiring people who have succeeded in escaping the suffering created by the social precept of measuring their worth through rating scales, as if they reflected the individual's true value." - Iris Kalka, Haaretz "This is an important book that integrates up to date knowledge in a number of disciplines lucidly. Its greatness resides is its precise diagnosis of the central problems of our times and in offering solutions that avoid flattery and instant redemption. . .Strenger's main thesis is that we need to create lives of our own making rather than caving in to the demands of the global market that tries to turn us into uncritical and shallow consumers. . .Strenger calls for a culture of critical argumentation as an antidote to fashionable postmodern relativism." - Avi Garfinkel, City Mouse "Carlo Strenger's The Fear of Insignificance gives a riveting description of the irrational belief that everything is possible, and that life must be spectacular - a factor that has contributed to the recent financial crisis. His diagnosis is compelling: no matter how much people achieve, they live in persistent doubt that their lives are of significance. His call for a deep, intellectual engagement with basic existential questions will provide many with a road towards a more stable sense of meaning." - Nouriel Roubini, Professor of Economics, Stern School of Business, New York University; Chairman, Roubini Global Economics; and author of The Future of Crisis Economics "In this lucid and ambitious book, Carlo Strenger illuminates the current plight of humanity through an innovative existential lens that offers practical hope for a better life. We live in a period in which humanity is about to self-destruct, yet our culture is busy ranking individuals according to their net-worth and celebrity rather than through their actual achievement. In his impassioned call for reason and for reflection on what in our lives is of real value, Strenger joins writers like Santayana, Camus, and Faulkner in embracing the awareness of tragedy and mortality, and he shows that this leads to both creativity and compassion and can be a lasting source of hope and happiness." - Scott Atran, Presidential Scholar, John Jay College of Criminal Justice "A hugely ambitious book that explores what it means to live a valuable life in the contemporary world. Fortunately, the author has the erudition, thoughtfulness, clarity, and the ability to draw both from his clinical practice and from the conclusions of many significant thinkers to offer a rich reward to the reader." - Irvin Yalom, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Stanford University, and author of Existential Psychotherapy; Love's Executioner; When Nietzsche Wept; and Staring into the Sun