The Problem of Boredom: A Philosophical Perspective

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We all know what it is like to be bored. It usually strikes when are alone and not engaged in anything in particular. But if we actually try to define what boredom is, we may struggle to do so. Boredom isn’t simply the absence of activity. It is a unique kind of mental state — and one that we strive to avoid. We continually try to stave off boredom in any way we can, grasping for anything — a person, a place, an activity, or an experience — that is sufficiently stimulating.

Boredom has not escaped the purview of philosophy. Indeed, the problem of boredom has featured heavily in the thoughts of many philosophers since it is deeply entangled with the human condition and human fulfilment. By tackling boredom from a philosophical perspective, we may be able to gain a clearer understanding of what it means to be bored and how best to appropriately respond to this psychological state. We should try to relate to boredom in a healthy way and avoid falling into the trap of escapism.

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Originally published at www.samwoolfe.com on April 15, 2019.

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