Vani Kant BorooahFeb 5, 2024
Economics, Religion and Happiness
God, Mammon and the Search for Spiritual and Financial Wealth
Many books on happiness suggest that we have considerable control over our level of happiness by doing or not doing specific things, like mediation, exercise, and maintaining social ties.
Approaching happiness through the lens of economics, Vani Kant Borooah takes a different approach in his book Economics, Religion and Happiness: God, Mammon and the Search for Spiritual and Financial Wealth (Routledge, 2024). He argues that while it is true that we can take such actions to improve our relative level of day-to-day happiness, there are also significant influences which fall outside of our control and depend heavily upon the attitudes and actions of other people.
The book identifies the internal factors of personal happiness and measures the relative strength of their contribution, then contrasts that with an analysis of the externalities that people impose upon the happiness of others.
These externalities are the direct result of intolerance and feelings of envy and superiority. Taking a cue from Jean-Paul Sartre's aphorism, "hell is other people", this book examines those often negative and even violent externalities, a theme explored in the areas of religion, money, and prejudice where our happiness is contingent upon the perspectives and actions of those around us.
Slaughter Among Neighbors: The Political Origins of Communal Violence (Human Rights Watch, 1995)