Final note on Alain de Botton’s Status Anxiety (2004). This is the twelfth post on this topic; the first is here.
We need status anxiety because “fear of failing and disgracing oneself in the eyes of others is an inevitable consequence of harbouring ambitions, of favouring one set of outcomes over another, and of having regard for individuals besides oneself.”
But we can choose the audience from whom we accept judgment, we can recognise that values that seem fixed and immutable actually fluctuate with time, place, the ethos of the age.
“Philosophy, art, politics, religion and bohemia have never sought to do away entirely with the status hierarchy. They have attempted, rather, to institute new kinds of hierarchies based on sets of values unrecognised by, and critical of, those of the majority while maintaining a firm grip on the differences between success and failure, good and bad, shameful and honourable.”
[This all falls flat for me somehow.]