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The Fear of Insignificance: Searching for Meaning in the Twenty-First Century Paperback – February 15, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0230113756 ISBN-10: 0230113753

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (February 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230113753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230113756
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,098,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"I found Strenger's whole argument to be powerfully persuasive, even inspiring. The book will have a wide interdisciplinary appeal--e.g., to social philosophers, psychoanalytic therapists, sociologists, and students in all these fields. It should also have wide appeal within the educated public--for example, to all those who feel alarmed by the escalatingly grandiose and destructive escapist ideologies into which people of our era flee from the existential vulnerabilities exposed by the likes of global terrorism, global nuclear proliferation, global warming, and global economic collapse."--Robert D. Stolorow, The Huffington Post

The Fear of Insignificance is the type of book that can change your life. . .because Strenger presents his theories in mind-opening ways. . .[he defends the liberal’s right to a firmly entrenched worldview opposed to others, as opposed to fashionable relativist postmodernism. Strenger encourages the reader to create meaning autonomously and not shy away from the painful work involved in becoming a genuine individual.”--Rana Verbin:. Haaretz, Best Books of the Year. June 6 2010

 

“Carlo Strenger. . .creates a wide ranging interpretation, not only of the situation of today’s individual, but of global developments that affect us all. . .Gradually a tragic picture of Homo globalis evolves; locked into illusions without being able to see the bars of the cage. . .Part of the book’s fascination resides in Strenger’s search for a new balance that will help the reader to deal with the human fear of death. . .Strenger succeeds with great sensitivity in presenting the stories of inspiring people who have succeeded in escaping the suffering created by the social precept of measuring their worth through rating scales, as if they reflected the individual’s true value.”--Iris Kalka, Haaretz

 

“This is an important book that integrates up to date knowledge in a number of disciplines lucidly. Its greatness resides is its precise diagnosis of the central problems of our times and in offering solutions that avoid flattery and instant redemption. . .Strenger’s main thesis is that we need to create lives of our own making rather than caving in to the demands of the global market that tries to turn us into uncritical and shallow consumers. . .Strenger calls for a culture of critical argumentation as an antidote to fashionable postmodern relativism.”--Avi Garfinkel, City Mouse

 

“Carlo Strenger’s The Fear of Insignificance gives a riveting description of the irrational belief that everything is possible, and that life must be spectacular--a factor that has contributed to the recent financial crisis. His diagnosis is compelling: no matter how much people achieve, they live in persistent doubt that their lives are of significance. His call for a deep, intellectual engagement with basic existential questions will provide many with a road towards a more stable sense of meaning.”--Nouriel Roubini, Professor of Economics, Stern School of Business, New York University; Chairman, Roubini Global Economics; and author of The Future of Crisis Economics

 

“In this lucid and ambitious book, Carlo Strenger illuminates the current plight of humanity through an innovative existential lens that offers practical hope for a better life. We live in a period in which humanity is about to self-destruct, yet our culture is busy ranking individuals according to their net-worth and celebrity rather than through their actual achievement. In his impassioned call for reason and for reflection on what in our lives is of real value, Strenger joins writers like Santayana, Camus, and Faulkner in embracing the awareness of tragedy and mortality, and he shows that this leads to both creativity and compassion and can be a lasting source of hope and happiness.”--Scott Atran, Presidential Scholar, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

 

“A hugely ambitious book that explores what it means to live a valuable life in the contemporary world. Fortunately, the author has the erudition, thoughtfulness, clarity, and the ability to draw both from his clinical practice and from the conclusions of many significant thinkers to offer a rich reward to the reader.”--Irvin Yalom, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Stanford University, and author of Existential Psychotherapy; Love's Executioner; When Nietzsche Wept; and Staring into the Sun

About the Author

Carlo Strenger is Chair of the Clinical Graduate Program of the Department of Psychology at Tel Aviv University. He serves on the Permanent Monitoring Panel on Terrorism of the World Federation of Scientists, the Seminar of Existential Psychoanalysis in Zurich, and the Scientific Board of the Sigmund Freud Foundation in Vienna, in addition to maintaining a part-time practice in existential psychoanalysis. Strenger's research focuses on the impact of globalization on identity and meaning. He has published five books, including The Designed Self. His work has been reported on and he has been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Time Magazine, as well as hundreds of newspapers and websites in more than twenty languages. Strenger is an outspoken defender of Classical Liberalism, a critic of deteriorating norms in the public domain, and an advocate of a sane and just solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He blogs on the Huffington Post and Haaretz, Israel's leading liberal newspaper, and writes regularly for Haaretz, The Guardian, Die Welt, and The New York Times.


More About the Author

Carlo Strenger is Chair of the Clinical Graduate Program of the Department of Psychology at Tel Aviv University. He serves on the Permanent Monitoring Panel on Terrorism of the World Federation of Scientists, the Seminar of Existential Psychoanalysis in Zurich, and the Scientific Board of the Sigmund Freud Foundation, Vienna in addition to maintaining a part-time practice in existential psychoanalysis.

Strenger has published seven books including The Designed Self, The Fear of Insignificance and Israel: Einführung in ein schwieriges Land. He regularly writes political commentaries in his blog 'Strenger than Fiction' at www.haaretz.com, in the Huffington Post, The Guardian, Germany's Die Welt, and The New York Times.

His work has been reported on, and he has been interviewed by among others, in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Time Magazine as well as hundreds of newspapers and websites in more than twenty languages.

Carlo Strenger's website: http://people.socsci.tau.ac.il/mu/carlo/

'Strenger than Fiction, Carlo's blog is at www.haaretz.com/strenger
Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlo_Strenger
Blogginheads Interview on Fear of Insignificance: http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/35518
SAT 3 Interview on Israel's current situation: http://www.3sat.de/mediathek/?mode=play&obj=27474

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Alla S. VINE VOICE on April 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
"The fear of insignificance" explores the popular mindset today--one that includes obsession with celebrity, status, and one's position in the world. Strenger analyzes the dangers of being dwarfed by the have-alls, and feeling insignificant and unhappy with one's own life as a result.

The book is divided into three parts: "The Defeat of Mind," "From the I Commodity to the Dreams of Individuality," and "Reclaiming Our Minds." The first part delves into the popular belief system advocated by the modern media, most notably the "just do it" campaigns where celebrities, while marketing a product, are held up as heroes while they preach that anything is possible if one just reaches for the stars. The problem with such a popular belief system, as Strenger analyzes it, is that it's very easy to believe but not as realistic in life. The second part of the book puts emphasis on refraining oneself from seeing their life in terms of satisfying others and how much money one makes, but instead working on getting a satisfaction with the life one has. Stenger reflects that everyone is born with some limitations, and the people who make it to the top are no exceptions: they either had connections, luck, or some other unpredictable factors that lead them to success. Instead of buying into the star and dream obsessed media culture, Strenger advises people to avoid seeing themselves as "commodities," shun away from comparing themselves to others, and venture throughout their own lives with an open heart and mind--something discussed more in the third part of the book, along with religion.

Overall, I thought Strenger's convincing argument was very relevant to today's "keeping up with the Jones's'" world.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By kebblue on September 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
What is a good life in this new world where success is defined by the global information and entertainment systems? Carlo Strenger's answer to this question is the basis of The Fear of Insignificance. This is not a light or easy read, but I found it so compelling that I finished it in two days. Strenger argues that many of us who have chosen good professions feel diminished when we compare ourselves to the global elite who seem to have it all. And, that current self-help / law of attraction belief systems are unhelpful as they do not allow for the graceful acceptance of human limitations. Overall Strenger makes a case that to live a valuable life we must accept the tensions of life and seek a thoughtful, educated approach to our lives.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By International business traveler on January 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished "The fear of insignificance" and I highly recommend it. it does a fantastic job of diagnosing the particular malaise of living in the 21st century. It also does a wonderful job of laying out some possible, if idealistic, solutions to the challenges we all face. But most of all I love how he elaborates and extends the great traditions of the ancients, philosophers such as Kierkegaard and Nietszche, early moderns like Freud and his crew, and even my hero Ernest Becker, into the actual world – with its interconnected iPads, globetrotting, celebrity, infotainment, Klout, and collapse of all traditional meaning systems. There are many powerful passages and much to chew on (the notion of "Homo globalis" and the critique of Nike's 20-year ad campaign are priceless), and despite some small structural defects, it is a slim masterpiece.
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