Seven Ways of Looking at Pointless Suffering: What Philosophy Can Tell Us about the Hardest Mystery of All

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University of Chicago Press
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6.3 X 9.1 X 1.1 inches | 1.2 pounds
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About the Author
Scott Samuelson lives in Iowa City, Iowa, where he is professor of philosophy at Kirkwood Community College. He has taught the humanities in universities, colleges, prisons, houses of worship, and bars. He has also worked as a movie reviewer, television host, and sous chef at a French restaurant on a gravel road. He is the author of The Deepest Human Life and Seven Ways of Looking at Pointless Suffering, both published by the University of Chicago Press.
"In this eminently readable but subtle book, Scott Samuelson opens up new ways of thinking about suffering. Weaving together philosophical reflections with compelling stories of his time teaching in prison, Samuelson shows us the various roles undeserved suffering plays our lives, and indeed in life itself. This book is a necessary read for those of us who want to reflect on the place of pain in human existence."--Todd May, author of A Fragile Life
"You can keep your gratitude journals, but make no mistake about it: this world is a vale of tears, a world of seemingly senseless suffering. How we understand and relate ourselves to this suffering will shape our lives both morally and otherwise. A gifted author with a feathery writing touch on the weightiest of subjects, Scott Samuelson has succeeded in carefully distilling the wisdom of a wide array of philosophers on what St. Paul called 'the groaning of creation.' Rife with engaging personal stories, Samuelson's meditation is both intellectually substantive and uplifting."--Gordon Marino, author of The Existential Survival Guide
"Excellent. . . . The challenge that Samuelson locates in the philosophical tradition, and which he passes on to the reader, is to reflect deeply on what it means to live with pointless suffering while resisting the temptation to transmute it into meaningful pain, which is something else entirely. . . One of the many virtues of Samuelson's book is that the reader often feels as though she were his student. His wry, self-deprecating and confessional style is both serious and playful--and seriously playful. The exposition of different philosophers and traditions is careful and scholarly without being pedantic. . . . Another great merit of Samuelson's insightful, informative and deeply humane book is that it is a genuine pleasure to read. Herein lies a final challenge to the reader: after luxuriating in his reflections, we must close the book and return to daily life with renewed determination and courage to apply its lessons."

--Times Higher Education, Book of the Week
"A compelling and highly readable assessment of modern and perennial responses to suffering."--Christian Century