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Everyday philosophy: what doesn’t kill you….

We are living in a new age of austerity, but could all this enforced abstinence be good for us?

By Nigel Warburton   January 2011

Across Europe, austerity is the buzzword of the day. Greece and Ireland have already banked billions in bailouts and other nations may have to follow suit. We’re all having to curb excess and do more with less. Further cuts will bite deep in the months to come: Happy New Year.

But can all this enforced abstinence be good for us? Friedrich Nietzsche believed that suffering aids self-mastery: he declared that whatever does not destroy us makes us stronger. Unfortunately, his own psychiatric decline (a final decade wracked by mental illness) refudiated that.

In contrast Britain’s Jeremy Bentham argued that withholding…

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