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Michael Healy

Misery and Genuine Hope

May. 21, 2012, at 10:21am

A fourth option for dealing with the miseries and pains of life is that of genuine hope.  How does this differ from mere optimism?  How does is compare to pessimism?  Well, it is an attempt to face the evils of life realistically while not succumbing to them as the last word (vs. pessimism); but, in order to do so, hope must break the bounds of just this world of space and time (vs. mere optimism) where “death comes as the end.”  Hope must find a genuine foundation on which to acknowledge misery without despair, but rather with a realistic possibility of breaking through to genuine happiness. 

That true foundation is ultimately the power and goodness of God; therefore, hope is based on

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Michael Healy

Misery and Pessimism

May. 13, 2012, at 6:58pm

Pessimism is an attempt at an “honest” solution to the problem of the miseries of life.  It tries to face squarely the reality of evil, pain, death, change, catastrophe, etc., and then offers a way to shield oneself from these inevitable facts of life by steeling oneself against them, not letting oneself be touched by them, by showing an enduring toughness and self-sufficiency in accepting them.  It espouses only a negative definition of happiness, relief from misery, without any positive components.  The problem with all this “realism” and “honesty” is the underlying assumption that evil, pain, and misery ultimately win out in life and in being.  But is this true?  Is it honest?  Is it

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Michael Healy

Misery and Earthly Optimism

May. 7, 2012, at 11:18am

Another way of trying to deal with the miseries of life involves an attitude that may be termed “earthly optimism.”  It some ways it is a more formalized type of escapism, but now developed into theory of life, either on a popular or on a more sophisticated intellectual level. 

On the popular level, we might term this a “Pollyanna” attitude, though I don’t mean thereby to make a judgment about Disney’s 1960 movie of the same name.  (Like every other red-blooded American 10-to-15-year-old male of my generation, I fell deeply in love with Hayley Mills after seeing that movie, rivaling even my devotion to Annette Funicello.  So I do not mean to tread on anyone’s sacred memories here!) 

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Michael Healy

Misery and Escapism

Apr. 29, 2012, at 4:18pm

One technique for handling life’s pains and miseries is simply to run from them, to try to distract oneself from the dark side of life and thus not really face the problem. This is, admittedly, not really even an attempt at a “solution” or an answer, but it can allow the individual to go on functioning day-to-day in practical terms.

This can be done with drugs or alcohol, trying to blot out the pain or threat and blissfully overcome it with the aid of artificial stimulants. Another version of this would be trying to “drown one’s sorrows” in the face a particular source of unhappiness or a general weariness or disgust with life. This is often the theme of country songs, e.g. Hank William’s

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Katie van Schaijik

Von Hildebrand’s view of love

Apr. 19, 2012, at 10:52am

One of the students in my courtship class has just brought to my attention a great primer on von Hildebrand's philosophy of love, happiness and sexuality, by his long-time student, colleague, and friend, William Marra, who died in 1998.

Dr. Marra, who taught philosophy at Fordham University for more than 40 years, had a winning warmth and down-to-earth simplicity and humor that are lamentably rare in philosophy professors.

Here are three paragraphs from the article, to give a taste.  But do read the whole thing, which convey the von HIldebrandian essence in an especially lively and accessible way.

Scattered throughout von Hildebrands works are many references to the great errors that

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