Alain de Boton on Love, Sex, Religion & Happiness

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Alain de Boton on Love, Sex, Religion & Happiness

Summary:
– he believes in looking at questions that have real world applications – to understand the self,mothers, the world
– it’s not just what you say, but how you say it [academic/scientific work], however, the audience is emotional
– he sees himself as a writer, not a scientist
– he sees human existence as being difficult:
1) we know we are mortal
2) we are often forced to make decisions before we are ready (e.g. Job, lover/partner) & when we are often uncertain & lack information
3) the mind is – in his view “flawed” – & has a “hard time recognising that it is flawed” & does not always have accurate representations/perceptions of reality

Love
– he believes love is the moment we encounter our own irrationality
– he believes human beings can forgive a lot as long as it is explained in the right way
– he believes couples should discuss their eccentricities/flaws/imperfections from the outset
– Attachment Theory is important to understanding love
– first responses for some couples can be unhelpful (& an inaccurate perception)
– arguments between couples can be misconstrued, whereas in fact they are desperate attempts to teach other something about themselves (can result in shirking/nagging)

Sex
– Freud & the sex motive
– various sex acts is about trust / being accepted – the psychological dimension
– pornography he believes disconnects people (he does not support banning it) – but it releases anxiety, while noting that relationships have a sense of duty, a burden to them & that therefore contact with pornography can be a moment of sexual freedom from responsibility & guilt

Religion:
– Augustinians – we are all marked by sin
– he believes this is helpful because it says we are all imperfect
– where does the impulse for religion come from within human nature?
– themes of religion: community; stable relationships, overcoming feelings of envy & inadequacy

Happiness
– he believes we are not systematic in our quest for happiness
– Ancient Greeks taught us that our initial impulses on any given subject/topic are probably wrong
– he notes we all want fulfilling love & fulfilling work
– he believes that how we go about this is incredibly haphazard & we can often find ourselves making big, big mistakes
– he believes humans are “quite alone” when it comes to making career choices & choices of romantic partners
– the mind is a dark cave & needs a bright light of consciousness shone it
– we need to have a good sense of humour
– Man thinks – God Laughs

Source: The Psychology Podcast | Podcast date: 9 March 2017

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