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What is it in human nature that sometimes makes us derive pleasure from the suffering of others? In this original and provocative book, John Portmann explores this all-too-human foible - what Germans call Schadenfreude . Disagreement about suffering - what it is, who deserves it, and how much - has compelled philosophers for centuries. Portmann examines the complexity inherent in Schadenfreude , engaging philosophers such as Kant and Nietzsche, thinkers and writers including Freud, Baudelaire, Dickens, and even contemporary novelists Umberto Eco and Toni Morrison. When Bad Things Happen to Other People makes a vital contribution to philosophy, human behaviour and ethics, and challenges us to re-examine our feelings about suffering, sympathy and the ambiguity of justice.
John Portmann has studied at Yale, Cambridge University, and L'ecole des hautes etudes in sciences sociales in Paris. He received his Ph.D. in philosophical and religious ethics from the University of Virginia, where he studied under James Childress, Daniel Westberg, Richard Rorty and Patricia Spears. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.