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Heroism, Happiness, and a Search for Meaning

Andrew Bernstein, Ashley Frawley

Presented at: London Ayn Rand Meetup ARC-UK

Date: Mar 24, 2020

Quite often, we are told that in order to find meaning in life, one has to live for something big, beyond oneself. At the same time though, the notion of heroism is seen with suspicion. In popular culture, the figure that is gaining track is the anti-hero: flawed, imperfect, and ultimately, ‘one of us’. Quite often, traits traditionally linked with heroes are seen as destructive for their bearers, as well as for those around them.

Is there space in our society for heroes and heroism? Can a hero be happy? Can a search for happiness go hand in hand with grand heroic deeds? Or does heroism ultimately require self-sacrifice?

Ashley Frawley is senior lecturer in sociology and social policy at Swansea University in Wales. She is the author of Semiotics of Happiness: rhetorical beginnings of a public problem published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2015 and the forthcoming Significant Emotions (2020) which explores the seemingly never ending rise and fall of new emotional panaceas for social problems.

Andrew Bernstein holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Graduate School of the City University of New York. He has taught Philosophy at the State University of New York at Purchase, Marist College, Hunter College, the State University of New York at New Paltz, and other New York-area universities. He is the author of several books, including the recently-released Heroes, Legends, Champions: Why Heroism Matters.

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