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date: 09 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers a number of contributions by continental philosophers who contrast the idea of happiness with the experience of suffering. In light of the fact there are other chapters in this volume dealing with classic philosophy as well as with early continental contributions, this chapter focuses exclusively on nineteenth- and twentieth-century philosophers and in particular on phenomenological and existential authors, excluding poststructural and postmodern contributions. The main theme of the chapter is whether the pursuit of happiness can be philosophically justified without taking its opposite of suffering into account. While the definition of happiness used is different for each of the authors discussed, they each argue against happiness as a valid objective of human existence. This chapter will argue that continental philosophers, in line with Athenian philosophers, have generally maintained that it is important to take a balanced view of happiness and suffering as the one is not possible without the other.

Keywords: happiness, suffering, existential philosophy, phenomenology, meaning, negatives, death, nothingness, freedom, values, beliefs, dialectics

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