The Significance of Boredom: A Sartrean Reading

In Daniel Dahlstrom, Andreas Elpidorou & Walter Hopp (eds.), Philosophy of Mind and Phenomenology: Conceptual and Empirical Approaches. Routledge (2015)
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By examining boredom through the lens of Sartre’s account of the emotions, I argue for the significance of boredom. Boredom matters, I show, for it is both informative and regulatory of one’s behavior: it informs one of the presence of an unsatisfactory situation; and, at the same time, owing to its affective, cognitive, and volitional character, boredom motivates the pursuit of a new goal when the current goal ceases to be satisfactory, attractive, or meaningful. In the absent of boredom, one would remain trapped in unfulfilling situations, thereby missing out on many rewarding experiences. In helping us to articulate the function and significance of boredom, Sartre’s account provides a much-needed counterbalance to accounts of boredom that portray it as a distinctively negative state.
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