DiscoverThe Art of Manliness#535: The Problem of Self-Help in a Liquid Age
#535: The Problem of Self-Help in a Liquid Age

#535: The Problem of Self-Help in a Liquid Age

Update: 2019-08-1915
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Self-help gurus, life coaches, and business consultants love to tell us that we must strive for constant self-improvement to realize our full potential and become truly happy. But it doesn't seem to work -- for many of us, life still seems hollow and meaningless. So focused are we on personal development and material possessions that we've overlooked the things that make life truly fulfilling and worthwhile. 

But what are those things?

My guest today explores the answer to that question in his book Standpoints: 10 Old Ideas in a New World. His name is Svend Brinkmann, and he's a Danish philosopher and psychologist. We begin our conversation discussing why modern life can feel like liquid, and how the typical approach to personal development and self-help doesn't rescue us from drowning in it. Svend then contrasts the common approach to treating choices and people like instruments and means to an end with the idea of doing what's good simply because it is good. Svend argues that we can do that by standing firm on certain philosophic principles, and we spend the rest of our conversation discussing a few of what these are, including the importance of endowing others with dignity, making and keeping promises, and embracing responsibility.

Get the show notes at aom.is/standpoints.

Comments (4)

Nathan Sellstrom

I'm sorry. my least favorite episode yet. I'm shocked that I listened all the way through, but I love the thinkers he references. I think Svend has a convoluted understanding of self-help. his circular arguments disparage self-help and then rebuild themselves on self-help principles. eg: in human terms, forgiveness IS of primary benefit to the person forgiving. on the flip side, those being forgiven rarely know they've been forgiven. self-help, in my experience, is built on taking responsibility for my actions, endowing others with dignity, making and keeping promises, and forgiveness. none of this is possible without forgiving our qualifiers and even ourselves for the sole purpose of opening the door to these "building blocks" of self-help. I'd characterize his philosophical/psychological assessment as an undignified effort to convolute self-help and detract from the true value it has in helping people work through the destruction of addiction. I've NEVER heard the (wrong) idea that avoiding guilt and shame is a healthy approach to self-help/recovery. life perpetually deals us guilt and shame. self-help brings freedom through honesty, bringing unhealthy emotions into healthy community for the purpose of progressing toward consistency. I find his conclusions to lack clarity and connection to real (right) self-help. Jordan B Peterson takes a much more precise and productive approach to this topic. as JBP says, seeking meaning, not happiness, is a much more valuable and lasting pursuit. Svend loses sight of this concept, focusing more on the pursuit of happiness.

Aug 21st
Reply (2)

Nathan Sellstrom

I'm sorry. my least favorite episode yet. I'm shocked that I listened all the way through, but I love the thinkers he references. I think Svend has a convoluted understanding of self-help. his circular arguments disparage self-help and then rebuild themselves on self-help principles. eg: in human terms, forgiveness IS of primary benefit to the person forgiving. on the flip side, those being forgiven rarely know they've been forgiven. self-help, in my experience, is built on taking responsibility for my actions, endowing others with dignity, making and keeping promises, and forgiveness. none of this is possible without forgiving our qualifiers and even ourselves for the sole purpose of opening the door to these "building blocks" of self-help. I'd characterize his philosophical/psychological assessment as an undignified effort to convolute self-help and detract from the true value it has in helping people work through the destruction of addiction. I've NEVER heard the (wrong) idea that avoiding guilt and shame is a healthy approach to self-help/recovery. life perpetually deals us guilt and shame. self-help brings freedom through honesty, bringing unhealthy emotions into healthy community for the purpose of progressing toward consistency. I find his conclusions to lack clarity and connection to real (right) self-help. Jordan B Peterson takes a much more precise and productive approach to this topic. as JBP says, seeking meaning, not happiness, is a much more valuable and lasting pursuit. Svend loses sight of this concept, focusing more on the pursuit of happiness.

Aug 21st
Reply
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#535: The Problem of Self-Help in a Liquid Age

#535: The Problem of Self-Help in a Liquid Age