I need help in an analytical review of Alain DeBotton's book 'Status Anxiety'. An analytical book review is one that does considerably more than summarize the work. I do not want a summary. Instead, what we are after here is a reasoned and thoughtful reaction to the book; an analysis of both its content and its larger meaning.
From the beginning of time humans have sat around campfires, wedding feasts and funeral pyres and contemplated the meaning of life. They have contemplated the vastness of the world within which they live and have tried to determine the value of their own life. What is the meaning of life after all is said and done? In the few short years that I play my part in this ongoing saga, what is my role? Is there a greater purpose for which I should live or am I free to live only for myself? As these questions were raised and discussed, a further inevitable question crept up. Who am I and what is my worth?
Alain de Botton follows in the footsteps of philosophers both modern and ancient in resurrecting once again this perennial problem that man is faced with. Who am I and how do I know if I am successful or not. In his book entitled Status Anxiety, de Botton analyzes the source of this anxiety, the assumptions upon which our modern society is built, and examines some of the possible solutions to resolving this anxiety.
De Botton reveals that all humans are born with an innate desire to be respected, loved and deemed worthy of acknowledgement. We desire to be significant and to lead a fulfilled life. The source of our anxiety according to de Botton stems not from real insignificance or worth but from imagined insignificance or value. This anxiety is a result of basing our worth on extrinsic input as opposed to an honest self-evaluation. He writes:
"The attentions of others matter to us because we are afflicted by a congenital uncertainty as to our own value, as a result of which affliction we tend to allow others' appraisals to play a determining role in how we see ourselves."
It is because we lack a reliable absolute standard by which our worth can be measured that we turn to a fallible but readily available measuring tool; other people in our society.
De Botton claims that our ancestors probably enjoyed a much more fulfilling life than we do. This is primarily because their expectations were so much lower. They were concerned with the business of keeping body and soul together. Their ability to procure food for the family, provide shelter and guard against predators contributed to a sense of satisfaction and significance. Their possessions consisted of a few weapons, some pots for cooking, animal hides and the cloths on their backs. They were unconcerned with accumulating possessions because they had to carry everything they owned from one place to another. In their worldview possessions would have been liabilities and burdens rather than a sign of success.
The rise of the standard of living following the industrial revolution obliterated the old ways of thinking. Man could now possess items that only the extremely wealthy could have dreamed of possessing. The result was paradoxically not a rise in fulfillment and satisfaction but a decrease in fulfillment and a rise in status anxiety. William ...
This solution is an analytical book review of Alain DeBotton's "Status Anxiety." Approximately 2,000 words of original text.