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#535: The Problem of Self-Help in a Liquid Age | The Art of Manliness

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Self-help gurus, life coaches, and business consultants love to tell us that we must strive for constant self-improvement to realize our full potential and become truly happy. But it doesn’t seem to work — for many of us, life still seems hollow and meaningless. So focused are we on personal development and material possessions that we’ve overlooked the things that make life truly fulfilling and worthwhile.

But what are those things?

My guest today explores the answer to that question in his book Standpoints: 10 Old Ideas in a New World. His name is Svend Brinkmann, and he’s a Danish philosopher and psychologist. We begin our conversation discussing why modern life can feel like liquid, and how the typical approach to personal development and self-help doesn’t rescue us from drowning in it. Svend then contrasts the common approach to treating choices and people like instruments and means to an end with the idea of doing what’s good simply because it is good. Svend argues that we can do that by standing firm on certain philosophic principles, and we spend the rest of our conversation discussing a few of what these are, including the importance of endowing others with dignity, making and keeping promises, and embracing responsibility.

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Art of Manliness, Brett McKay, Men's Interest
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