Happiness has meant different things in different times: according to Aristotle, only the gods could be truly happy, but if you lived ethically, you might come close; for medieval Christians, the best way to be happy was to suffer pain and for Romantic philosophers like Rousseau, society made happiness impossible.
But what does it mean to be happy today? In this devastatingly witty new book, Carl Cederstrom traces our present-day fantasy of happiness from its roots in the 60's counter-culture.
He argues that happiness is now defined by a desire to be 'authentic', to experience physical pleasure, and to cultivate one's 'brand' as an employee.
Along the way we encounter the renegade Austrian psychoanalysts, Big Pharma, Californian bohemians, self-help gurus and Silicon Valley CEOs who have all contributed to our current fantasy.
Whilst these ideals may have depicted the good life in the 70s, a time of affluence and abundance, they are no longer sustainable in our current age of austerity.
It is high time, Cederstrom argues, that we construct new fantasies of happiness.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 200 pages
- Publisher: Polity Press
- Publication Date: 14/09/2018
- Category: Social & cultural history
- ISBN: 9781509523801
- Paperback / softback from £12.15