chapter  14
Afterword
Beyond the paradox of the big, bad wolf
ByThomas Hylland Eriksen
Pages 13

This conclusion presents some closing thoughts covered in the preceding chapters of this book. The book suggests that along with a few thousand years of sustained philosophical, religious and artistic reflection on the place of humanity and the quest for the good life, that a few provisional conclusions might be pertinent. Human beings are simultaneously driven by a desire for equality and community and a desire to stand out as individuals. In a good society, the two impulses keep each other reasonably well in check; too much community deprives the individual of freedom, while too much individuality leads to accelerating inequality. Great discrepancies in prosperity and opportunities for self-realisation make people unhappy and discontented. In enormously unequal societies, the rich fear the poor, and the poor hate the rich. The less the differences in actual life opportunities, the better.