Hallo and guten tag from my new home in Bavaria, Germany. I’ve recently started my master’s program in Philosophy & Economics after a year of planning and preparation. (Preparation as in me just eating at all the restaurants and the food I knew I would miss.) While I am certainly obliged to spend much of my time reading for my courses here, I have no desire to curb my personal reading endeavors.
With that being said, I might not have the time to read Dostoevsky-length novels, so I choose the shorter books on my shelf whenever possible. And essays? The more the merrier.
Enter: The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula Guin
Packing a punch in under 5 pages, Ursula Guin endows us with a philosophical critique on one aspect of humanity’s existential crisis. Walking us through the governance of a small town called Omelas, we learn that the happiness of the town is dependent upon a child’s suffering. He is interminably locked in a basement with nothing but himself and his sorrows. Each citizen ought to visit the child as a rite of passage to understand why everyone in the town experiences continuous happiness.
We are left to contemplate whether happiness can exist without the subconscious certainty of known suffering.
The author also begs us to consider why in our reality, happiness is seen as uncouth, unsophisticated, and even borderline ignorant, while melancholy is an inherent malady of intellectuals. Is ignorance the only way to achieve bliss?
This is simply to say, I would recommend the essay. The pdf formatting can be found online by searching the title.
Do you believe happiness is only attainable because we understand immense suffering exists in the world? Is happiness a form of ignorance?
I’d love to hear your thoughts below, I am a philosophy student after all.
Written by E.L. Jayne