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‘Why We Are Restless: On the Modern Quest for Contentment’

Man and woman, Benjamin Storey and Jenna Silber Storey
Benjamin Storey and Jenna Silber Storey, Furman Department of Politics and International Affairs.

Joe Moran, a professor of English at Liverpool Johns Moores University, pens a review of “Why We Are Restless: On the Modern Quest for Contentment,” a book by Furman University professors Benjamin Storey and Jenna Silber Storey. In it, Moran weighs the Storey’s use of thinkers such as Michel de Montaigne, Blaise Pascal, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Alexis de Tocqueville to describe a shift in the modern view of self and happiness. Nearly 200 years earlier during his travels to America, Tocqueville observed a people “demoralised by their relentless pursuit of happiness,” Moran writes, “perpetually busy and on the make.”

Moran also reveals the authors’ prescription for our lack of contentment. They suggest that we may need to slow down and consider the source of our unhappiness instead of masking it by being perpetually busy. Maybe we should focus on “the strange and contradictory qualities that make us human,” the Storeys write, “that we are free, rational, and open to the divine but also frail, fallible, and subject to death.”

Benjamin Storey and Jenna Silber Story are professors of politics and international affairs at Furman, where they lead the Tocqueville Program. Read the entire review in Times Higher Education. Free registration is required to view the article.

Their book also earns a mention in The Atlantic in Arthur C. Brooks’ weekly column “how to build a life” and titled, “Don’t Approach Life Like a Picky Eater.” (Limited free views are available.)

Learn more about “Why We Are Restless.”

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