Philip Slater’s the Pursuit of Loneliness

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The purpose of Philip Slater’s book The Pursuit of Loneliness is to “reach some understanding of the forces which are unraveling our society” for his readers (xxii). It is a common conception that America is the best country, an idea which is substantiated by economic figures. However, Americans are not happy. According to Slater, “all societies frustrate certain human needs and satiate others (because) humanity and any particular society’s idea of what humanity should be is never very exact” (2). In America, the gap between reality and perception is growing farther and farther apart, at human expense. Americans work their entire lives for the future, in the pursuit of economic security, which ultimately leads to continued unhappiness in the present. American culture “struggles more and more violently to maintain itself, (but) is less and less able to hide its fundamental antipathy towards human life and human satisfaction” (122). Slater’s book teaches people about the existence of the “wide gap between the fantasies Americans live by and the realities they live in,” in the hopes that this will inspire people to react in positive ways (xxiii). Cooperation played a major role in the development of homo sapiens as the dominant species on earth. Americans do not understand its importance. It is understandable to place an extremely high level of importance upon self reliance in a dog eat dog society, but individualism has become fear and loathing of others. This motivates people to develop ways they can spend less time with each other. The ultimate expression of individualism, driving a car, illustrates the problem of denying “the reality of human interdependence” (30). “Some people can’t afford to heat their homes because we all want to ride expensive vehicles on crowded roads at high speeds, killing one another and polluting the atmosphere” (2). This situation

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