Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rethinking Tragedy and Success

The social theorist Alain de Botton presents a creative rethinking of the meaning of tragedy and success in a TED talk, shown here:


In essence, he argues that success needs to be rethought using insights from sociology, including an understanding of the limits of the ideal of a meritocratic society (since there is always random chance involved in social mobility), a deeper awareness of how failure as a concept involves particular beliefs and values (so that we can conclude that Hamlet is not a "loser" even though he "lost"), and a sensitivity to the fact that even when particular social and cultural distinctions appear to be irrelevant economic differences certainly are not (so that comparing oneself to Bill Gates rather than the Queen of England is just as absurd, even though the former wears "business casual").