Solutions: Philosophy (Notes from Status Anxiety)

Notes from Alain de Botton’s Status Anxiety (2004). This is the seventh post on this topic; the first is here.

PART II: Solutions


Dueling! For duelers, others’ opinions were the only factor in forming their sense of self. If others judged a dueler effeminate, foolish, a coward, a failure, dishonorable, he could not remain acceptable in his own eyes. He would sooner die or kill than let an unfavourable assessment go unanswered.

We may not duel but we may have extreme vulnerability to the disdain of others.

Socrates, on the being insulted in the marketplace, was asked, “Don’t you worry about being called names?” He replied, “Why? Do you think I should resent it if an ass had kicked me?”  <– misanthropy as a response

Socrates and others refute the suggestion that what others think of us must determine what we think of ourselves.

[Socrates’ response in this anecdote, though, seems like a reaction to feeling keenly the sting of the other’s barb; he may not ‘believe’ the other’s view of him, but he also has to create some kind of defense against it, indicating to me that it matters more than he wants it to, that it infiltrates his psyche at least a bit. Maybe not, though.]


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