Volume 107, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 0002-5275
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1244



Boredom has been admired for its audacity to see human life as it is: ultimately without meaning. Moreover, boredom has been attributed the power to overcome itself. The contention is that it is sufficient not to resist boredom. In this article I oppose these views. First, I describe and analyze boredom as a bipolar mood: on the one hand the person who is bored experiences a generalized loss of meaning in ordinary life, on the other hand he is oriented towards something extraordinary, but indefinite (or at least underdetermined) that will reinstate meaning in life. The person who is deeply bored is deadlocked between these two poles. The deadlock of this bipolar state has gotten a peculiarly keen edge in modern society. I argue next that neither of the poles of boredom has the capacity to end the mood. The expectation that in a state of generalized meaninglessness something meaningful will reveal itself, is an illusion and part of the deadlock of boredom. It deepens boredom. Finally, I outline an alternative way of ending boredom that implies that one should resist the mood. We should object to the person who is bored that the generalization of his deprecation of what has meaning in ordinary life to basic human interests and activities, makes no sense. These things cannot be meaningfully doubted without one’s becoming an outsider to human life. I grant that an argument alone cannot end a mood. It is at least as important to seduce the person who is bored to reengage with these basic interests and activities. As an outsider who postpones life indefinitely, he cannot fully understand their meaning.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): bipolar mood; boredom; malaise of modernity; meaning in life
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