The last three decades have seen dramatic changes in Irish society. A relatively homogeneous culture was altered by greater exposure to wealth, multiculturalism, travel, secularism and mass media. A predominantly religious unified worldview has fragmented and a multiplicity of different views now compete for dominance. In recent times the demise of the Celtic Tiger has led people to look again at their values and sense of the world. Institutions of church and state which traditionally gave guidance on such issues are routinely questioned and subjected to skeptical scrutiny leading to many people feeling at a loss in making sense of their lives.
However, there is a wealth of reflection on just such cultural change in the philosophical tradition. Questions about the point of human existence, the basis of value, the nature of the good life and human destiny are central to the activities of philosophers. Specifically, many philosophers have addressed the issue of facing misfortune and suggesting strategies for understanding and coping with the vicissitudes of life.
In this book, eleven different philosophical approaches to such issues are introduced in an accessible and engaging manner. Views such as theism and atheism are assessed. The thoughts of Plato and Kant are explored and schools such as Stoicism, Epicureanism, Pragmatism and Existentialism are presented. Buddhism, Quietism, the benefits of craft and the question whether philosophy can indeed console are discussed. The authors of the essays are staff at the Department of Philosophy, Trinity College Dublin.