Classicist Michael Fontaine examines mental distress in humanities podcast

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Jeff Tyson

The ancient world had very different ways of looking at mental distress than we do today.

What if we returned to ancient literature to understand mental distress as a matter of ethics or of spiritual anguish instead of neurological misfirings? asks Michael Fontaine, professor of classics. He examines what we can learn from antiquity in “A New-Old Look at Mental Distress,” a new episode in the “What Makes Us Human?” podcast series.

“The value of studying the past is that it unsettles our faith in our own norms,” says Fontaine. “People have not always believed what we believe – and maybe we’re wrong.”

“What Makes Us Human?” from the College of Arts and Sciences, showcases the newest thinking from across the disciplines about what it means to be human in the 21st century. Featuring 3-4 minute audio essays written and recorded by Cornell faculty, the series releases a new episode each Tuesday through the fall.

“What Makes Us Human” podcasts are available for download on iTunes and SoundCloud and for streaming at as.cornell.edu/humanities, where text versions of the essays are also posted.

Linda B. Glaser


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