Whether we like it or not, boredom is a major part of human life. It permeates our personal, social, practical, and moral existence. It shapes our world by demarcating what is engaging, interesting, or meaningful from what is not. It also sets us in motion insofar as its presence can motivate us to act in a plethora of ways. Indeed, in our search for engagement, interest, or meaning, our responses to boredom straddle the line between the good and the bad, the beneficial and the harmful, the creative and the mundane. In this volume, world-renowned researchers come together to explore a neglected but crucially important aspect of boredom: its relationship to morality. Does boredom cause individuals to commit immoral acts? Does it affect our moral judgment? Does the frequent or chronic experience boredom make us worse people? Is the experience of boredom something that needs to be avoided at all costs? Or can boredom be, at least sometimes, a solution and a positive moral force? The Moral Psychology of Boredom sets out to answer these and other timely questions.
Andreas Elpidorou is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Louisville. He specializes in the philosophical study of the mind and has published extensively on the nature of emotions (especially boredom), consciousness, and cognition. He is the co-author of Consciousness and Physicalism: A Defense of a Research Program (2018) and the author of Propelled Toward the Good Life (2020).
The Moral Significance of Boredom: An Introduction
Meltem Yucel and Erin C. Westgate
Eric R. Igou and Wijnand A. P. van Tilburg
Shane W. Bench, Heather C. Lench, Yidou Wan, Kaitlyn Kaiser, and Kenneth A. Perez
John D. Eastwood and Dana Gorelik
Lisa Bortolotti and Matilde Aliffi
Rebecca K. Meagher and Jesse Robbins
Josefa Ros Velasco
About the Contributors
In this multiauthored volume, Elpidorou gathers chapters that approach the intersection of boredom and morality from diverse perspectives, including history, religion, and philosophy; clinical, social, and personality psychology; and even animal studies. Various contributing authors attend to how boredom can affect moral decision-making and to the conditions that are then conducive to either prosocial or antisocial behavior. Examples and case studies clarify that being in a state of boredom is not being in a state of neutrality: rather, it is being in a state that one definitely does not want to be in. Escape from boredom can lead to relatively small (but positive) behaviors—such as, for example, learning how to paint—but sometimes the positive behavior can be on a grander scale. A formerly bored person can end up joining efforts to fight world poverty. On the other hand, some chapters cite examples of escape from boredom that lead to decidedly negative behaviors, such as setting thousands of acres on fire, or even committing murder. The contributors interweave connections involving boredom that might otherwise be overlooked. The text also points to a wealth of references for student readers to explore. Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students, faculty and professionals. Students in two-year technical programs. General readers.