The Cost of Comfort

The Cost of Comfort

John Lachs
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/11/2019
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-04317-7
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Philosopher John Lachs observes that humans today live lives of comfort but also sees that these comfortable lives come at a cost: our increasing unhappiness. In The Cost of Comfort, Lachs contemplates what humans need in order to live fulfilled lives in today's world. While comfort has not always reached everyone evenly, Lachs acknowledges that most of us who live in the US today reap the benefits of modern life. We live longer, we eat better food, we have access to good medical care, and we can stay in touch with loved ones who are far away. Lachs argues that this dizzyingly complex world often inspires isolation, but he believes that deeper engagement with it is required in order to dispel our growing psychic distance. Lachs advocates for mediation and champions education, advertising, openness, and transparency to help individuals understand the role they play in society and to nullify claims to blamelessness. Lachs suggests new rules for responsibility and argues that examining and understanding the consequences of one's actions is imperative to overcoming the ills and problems of the modern world.

Author Bio

John Lachs is Centennial Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of many books, including Meddling: On the Virtue of Leaving Others Alone and Stoic Pragmatism.



John Lachs provides, in a sustained manner, one of the deepest and most far-reaching investigations of mediation in modern life yet undertaken. It's an important effort that puts philosophy in the service of life and its problems.


 (Michael Sullivan, author of Legal Pragmatism)


This work is a very clear, engaging reflection on a genuine contemporary issue: deep feelings of disengagement and bewilderment about how to live responsibly in an almost overwhelmingly complex world.


 (John T. Lysaker, author of After Emerson)

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Table of Contents


1. Comfort

2. Discomfort

3. A Broken and an Integrated World

4. Complete and Dismembered Actions

5. Mediation

6. Philosophical Excursion: Hegel and Peirce on Mediation

7. Five Consequences of Mediation

8. (A) Passivity

9. (B) Impotence

10. (C) Ignorance

11. (D) Manipulation

12. (E) Psychic Distance

13. (F) Irresponsibility

14. Major Mediators: Tools

15. Major Mediators: Language

16. Major Mediators: Ideology

17. Major Mediators: Institutions

18. Major Mediators: Government

19. Mediated Immediacies

20. Eliminate Mediation?

21. Ineffective Ways of Dealing with Mediation

22. Pre-Existing Values

23. Advertising

24. Openness

25. Transparency

26. Education

27. The Power of Immediacy

28. Immediacy and Politics

29. New Rules of Responsibility