Endless Happiness: Confessions of a Recovering Addict

Workshop with Luke McCracken

Endless Happiness: Confessions of a Recovering Addict

Endless Happiness: Confessions of a Recovering Addict 889 1024 Tom Carlson

November 1, 2019 at 2 p.m.

Robertson Gymnasium 1000A

I set out to write about how to be happy, and my questions about happiness led me to a consideration of addiction because I began to notice a fundamental similarity: Like addicts, we mortals suffer a dependence on finite substances for our happiness, and their passing away always brings a comedown. To think through the implications of this parallel, I went to Augustine’s Confessions—one of the most poignant and impactful reflections on the relationship between death and happiness in the Western tradition. My original research question, “What does it mean for a human to be happy?” transformed through my readings of Augustine into “If being human is a ‘condition’, then what are its symptoms, and, furthermore, what would it mean to recover from it?” In this essay, “Endless Happiness,” I analyze Augustine’s own attempt to come to terms with the fact that, for us mortals, being happy means having something to lose.


Luke McCracken is a PhD student in Religious Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, specializing in existential philosophy and the history of Christian thought. His research focuses on questions of happiness, mortality, coping with loss, and nihilism. His published work includes, most recently, an article with the Journal of Cultural and Religious Theory, “A Note on Pre-Positions: Methodology in the Continental Philosophy of Religion,” and a translation of Emmanuel Falque’s The Loving Struggle: Phenomenological and Theological Debates.