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Distributed for Reaktion Books

A Philosophy of Discomfort

Translated by Vivian Sky Rehberg

A hard chair. An embarrassing conversation. A mosquito bite. All these provoke in us a sense of discomfort, whether an irksome sensation or an experience of unpleasantness. While we normally define “discomfort” simply as a lack of comfort, it is unclear which came first—comfort or the lack of it.

A Philosophy of Discomfort explores comfort and discomfort as historical and philosophical concepts, viewing these ideas as a constant push and pull of opposing forces. Arguing that comfort is a relative state that changes as our concept of well-being evolves, Jacques Pezeu-Massabuau observes our notions of comfort over time, with particular consideration to examples of housing and interiors—in Japanese housing, the Moroccan casbah, and modern city apartments, some aspects of discomfort, or the physical lack of well-being, are tolerated and accepted. Despite the human instinct to avoid discomfort, Pezeu-Massabuau contends that people must recognize the uncomfortable as necessary to existence and suggests they learn to use discomfort as another kind of pleasure, a new hedonism, or simply a new way to achieve well-being. Unraveling the myths of modern comfort, this book serves as a guide to integrating disorder into our daily lives.

128 pages | 4 3/4 x 7 3/4 | © 2012

Philosophy: General Philosophy

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“Pezeu-Massabuau artfully pulls on the thread of discomfort as a unifying theme for understanding everything from individualism to the importance of uncomfortable architecture in Japan. . . . A provocative look at a now underappreciated aspect of human experience that limits itself to mundane experiences of discomforts.” 


Table of Contents


1. Discomfort Refuted
2. Feeling Discomfort
3. Discomfort Dominated
4. Discomfort Practised
5. Discomfort Denied
6. Discomfort Provoked
7. In Praise of Discomfort
8. My Discomfort is My Culture


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