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Parr Center Presents: Jennifer Hawkins (Duke)

March 21 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Parr Center Presents: Jennifer Hawkins, “Artistic Achievement, Suffering, and Living a Good Life”

Thursday, March 21, 5-6:30 pm

Hyde Hall, University Room


We can all agree that suffering is generally a bad thing. Yet we often allow that some amount of negative experience can be worth it for the sake of achieving important ends. Indeed, many people admire those who achieve great things despite intense suffering along the way. And in some cases at least, we suspect that an individual’s suffering contributed in some essential way to their achievements. But how much suffering is compatible with a good life? Are there times when the negatives a person must endure for the sake of great achievements are simply not worth it? If so, how could we recognize such cases? In this talk I consider these questions in light of artistic achievement in particular. I argue that to make sense of such questions we need a richer psychological vocabulary for talking about (and distinguishing between different types and degrees of) negative experiences. Once we have such a vocabulary it becomes easier to see both that some experiences are indeed not worth it, and to explain which ones these are. As we shall see, some famous historical cases of suffering artists fall in this category.


Jennifer Hawkins, Ph.D., is Associate Research Professor of Philosophy at Duke University. She has published a number of articles on well-being and is working on a book on the topic.

This event is free and open to all; registration is not required. Join us!


March 21
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
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