Thursday, January 28, 2010

Living the Bad Life

I was browsing the Barnes and Noble bookstore today and saw this book. It's got a pretty interesting product description:

Life’s not fair, but there is one sure-fire way to ease your pain–laughing at someone else who had an even worse day than you did.

It brings up a related question I thought about. People who had it bad through unlucky life experiences and such can always find some consolation in knowing that there's someone that had it worse than they have. There's a kind of kindred solace found in the suffering or misery of others if not outright Schadenfreude as well. Hence the old saw that misery loves company (or maybe only the company of those who had it equally or worse?).

But what if you're the unluckiest person in the world and knows it? Then there's no one you can "laugh at" to ease your pain. Perhaps a person in such a situation does best to adopt a theory of modal realism. That way there will always be a sadder and unluckier fella in another possible world to laugh at.

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