The Consolations of Philosophy: New Evidence

It’s a small study, the direction of causation is not clear and it’s about thinking with another person, but still:

It may sound counterintuitive, but people who spend more of their day having deep discussions and less time engaging in small talk seem to be happier, said Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona who published a study on the subject.

As the authors conclude in their article:

Remarking on Socrates’ dictum that “the unexamined life is not worth living,” Dennett (1984) wrote, “The overly examined life is nothing to write home about either” (p. 87). Although we hesitate to enter such delicate philosophical disputes, our findings suggest that people find their lives more worth living when examined―at least when examined together.

4 thoughts on “The Consolations of Philosophy: New Evidence

  1. I at least am happier when I spend my day engaging in so-called deep discussions than in small talk. In fact, small talk irritates me immensely.

  2. I can see why, after what you’ve been through these last few weeks. (You are the Chilean Amos, right? If not, pardon me. There are a few people on this site with matching names).

    Counter to the teaching that big disasters, etc. need “moral” causes, I stick to my dad’s “common sense” adage. “Always surround yourself with people in whose company you’d be willing to die.” And on the flip side of that, I work constantly to be the type of person that deserves that kind of loyalty from my family, at least. Hopefully I have a few friends that feel the same way. And I face my own mortality as an agnostic, without thinking about “How will I be rewarded in the ‘afterlife'”. Instead, I think about who will remember me and why. How much meaning will my life bring to others?

    Tough to accomplish all of that in constant conversations about shoes, guys, bars and hair-do’s.

    I SO wish I could have done more for the disaster funds this year than the $15 I dropped into the relief jars. I promised myself that if I do make my millions as a writer (About 5% odds of that happening–still better than the lottery) I’ll find a way to get myself a little plane and bring a whole crew of my nursing and anthro friends to help out in some of these disaster zones.

    How are you anyway, Amos? Warm? Housed? Uninjured? Eating reasonably well? I hope so. I hope your family’s ok too.

  3. Xena: Thanks. I’m fine. The whole building shook for about two minutes. Everything fell on the floor. Some things broke. There’s a crack in one wall. However, I live in Santiago. The epicenter of the quake was farther south.
    And always earthquakes punish the poor, those who live in sub-standard dwellings which collapse.

  4. I’m glad you’re ok. I hope our donations are helping the people who aren’t doing so well.

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