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Tom and I review “The Palliative Society: Pain Today”  by Byung-Chul Han, a Korean-born Professor of Philosophy and Cultural Studies who teaches at the Berlin University of the Arts.

The author chronicles how our societies today are characterized by a universal algophobia: a generalized fear of pain. We strive to avoid all painful conditions – even the pain of love is treated as suspect. This algophobia extends into society: less and less space is given to conflicts and controversies that might prompt painful discussions.

The phenomenon takes hold of politics too: politics becomes a palliative politics that is incapable of implementing radical reforms that might be painful, so all we get is more of the same.

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