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The Table Video

Array Array& Lynn Underwood

Is Suffering Compatible With Human Flourishing?

Professor of Psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University
Senior Research Scholar, Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University
June 9, 2017

Is Suffering Compatible With Human Flourishing?


Is there really an opposition between suffering and flourishing? Because when we’re in the moment of grief and pain it feels like it.

Well of course a lot depends on how we’re conceptualizing flourishing, and so I think that kind of the default notion of what it means to live a good life in our culture means basically avoid what’s painful and do what’s pleasurable.

And so if you start off with that particular conceptualization of the good life, then obviously suffering is gonna be deeply antithetical to suffering, to the good life. But if flourishing is conceptualized quite differently in a way that has been waring the tradition of some of the ancient Greeks and all the way through Christianity, then we could talk about a concept of flourishing that’s a lot more robust.

It’s living a life that has purpose, a life that has meaning, and when we think about flourishing through that lens, then it turns out that suffering not only is compatible with a notion, but in some ways can actually enhance or lead to the good life.