Past Events

Past EventsWednesday, March 3

Status Anxiety: Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton
Chair: Deborah Orr

There are few more powerful desires than the wish to be thought of as a success, worthy of dignity and respect. We long for status and dread its opposite. But such aspirations and anxieties are rarely spoken about, or at least not without sarcasm, embarrassment or condemnation. In Status Anxiety (2004) leading philosopher Alain de Botton tackles our worries about status, success and failure.

In this session, in conversation with award-winning columnist Deborah Orr, he discussed the origin of our anxieties about status. He asked whether they are the result of high expectations or on those unpredictable elements of love, talent and luck. Drawing on entertaining anecdotes and unexpected examples from philosophy, art, Christianity and Bohemia, he also explored what we can do to overcome our anxieties.

Alain de Botton is the best-selling author of How Proust Can Change Your Life (1997), The Consolations of Philosophy (2000) and The Art of Travel (2002). Status Anxiety was published in April 2004, accompanied by a three-part television series on Channel 4.

Deborah Orr is an award-winning columnist on The Independent.

In association with Intelligence Squared

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