Kathleen Parker responds to Daniel Gilbert: The Deadliness of Certainty

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(The column to which this responds was posted earlier on the blog here--KSH).

Gilbert's observations were in the context of our current economic woes. As soon as we know how bad things are (or aren't), he said, we'll adapt and get along just fine.

He may be right as far as it goes, but the same uncertainty that makes human beings unhappy also stimulates the creativity that makes us happy. Was Leonardo da Vinci happy? Homer? George Washington? Man's drive to create isn't born of contentment but of anxiety attached to the unconscious agitation that comes from the greatest certainty ever devised: Death.

Here is a truism, if not an aphorism. Without death and the certainty of physical finitude, Homo sapiens would never have left the cave. Unhappiness and uncertainty -- rather than happiness and certitude -- are what get us off our duffs.

No misery. No Sistine Chapel.

So what happens to the creative spirit when government steps in to soothe our anxieties? Without unhappiness, what happens to culture? Without adversity, what happens to motivation? Parents know. Suffice to say, the work ethic is not strong among the coddled.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

3 Comments
Posted May 27, 2009 at 7:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Shumanbean wrote:

This column, surprisingly, stirred up liberal ire among the Post’s readers, and some of it quite creative, thus reinforcing her point. Apparently, some people would like to believe that the only valid motivation in life is running toward happiness/satisfaction/pleasure. But ask them to explain it while they’re being chased by a bear, and you’re likely to get a different answer altogether, if you can catch them.

May 27, 9:10 am | [comment link]
2. Old Pilgrim wrote:

Shumanbean wrote:

This column, surprisingly, stirred up liberal ire among the Post’s readers…

I’m not at all surprised that liberals didn’t like the piece. The quickest way to make people unhappy is to question their fount of certitude.

May 27, 9:36 am | [comment link]
3. libraryjim wrote:

The pursuit of happiness and Christianity:

John Piper had an interesting take on this one.

May 27, 11:36 am | [comment link]
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