Suffering is an inevitable yet poorly understood feature of human existence. This course examines how societies respond to the puzzling reality of human anguish. Among the questions it addresses are the following: What is suffering? Which types of human affliction are unique to the modern world? Have the meaning and portrayal of suffering changed over time? Do digital media sensitize or desensitize us to the anguish of distant others? In addition to introducing students to academic literature and debates on these topics, Suffering and the Human Condition will give them the opportunity to learn a method for studying human affliction that identifies the actors that perpetuate it.
No prior background knowledge is required.