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In Praise of Failure is a Course

In Praise of Failure

Started Jan 14, 2021

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Full course description

Thursday, January 14th from 5-6 pm (EST)-- Fully Online Lecture

Eligible for 1 CE for LMHC and Psychologists 


This event is free to the public, please use the promotional code ETHICSERIES5 to register at no cost.

This event is $25 for Licensed Mental Health Counselors or Psychologists seeking CEs for this lecture. Once you have registered for the class, your CE registration status is fixed and can not be adjusted at a later time. 


We are firmly in an era of accelerated progress. We are witness to advancements in science, the arts, technology, medicine and nearly all forms of human achievement at a rate never seen before. We know more about the workings of the human brain and of distant galaxies than our ancestors could imagine. The design of a superior kind of human being – healthier, stronger, smarter, more handsome, more enduring – seems to be in the works. Even immortality may now appear feasible, a possible outcome of better and better biological engineering.

Certainly the promise of continual human progress and improvement is alluring. But there is a danger there, too — that in this more perfect future, failure will become obsolete. And if it does, so too will the disciplines that depend upon it; philosophy, psychology, all of the ways of knowing that deal with the human person, essentially failing creatures that we are.

In this lecture I will consider the case of E. M. Cioran (1911-1995) from the vantage point of his relationship to failure. I will do so from two angles. There is, first, Cioran’s philosophizing on failure. He was obsessed with the topic throughout his work: from his first book, which he wrote in Romanian when he was 22, to his latest French texts, failure (be it cosmic, collective or personal) always played a central role. There is, then, Cioran’s record of personal failures: his involvement with a fascist movement in interwar Romania, his failure to keep a full-time job (and his bragging about it), his dream to live a parasite’s life in Paris (and the fulfilment of it), his social marginality, of which he was so proud. What complicates matters is that none of this prevented him from becoming one of the most successful thinkers of the 20th century.

For Cioran, failure permeates everything. Great ideas can be stained by failure, and so can books, philosophies, institutions, and political systems. The human condition itself is for him just another failed project. Our capacity to fail, then, is essential to our humanity. It lies at the root of our aspirations and makes us what we are. Failure, fear of it and learning how to avoid it in the future are all part of a process through which the shape and destiny of humanity are decided. That is why the capacity to fail is something that should be preserved, no matter what the professional optimists say. Such a thing is worth treasuring, even more so than artistic masterpieces, monuments or other accomplishments. For, in a sense, the capacity to fail is much more important than any individual human achievements: It is that which makes them possible.

Learning Objectives: 

At the conclusion of this presentation the participant will be able to:

  1. Describe a more philosophically nuanced (a) interpretation of failure and (b) value of life in the face of successive failures.
  2. Compare and critique ethical subtexts of personal understanding and approaches to human identity and suffering.
  3. Apply Bradatan’s philosophical scholarship (and Cioran’s philosophy) on depression, meaninglessness, and failure to clinical scenarios and practice.

Timeline and Requirements:

The course will take place on January 14th, 2021.  This lecture is instructor-led and is a fully online experience. This will be conducted synchronously online via (Zoom) from 5:00 pm-6:00 pm (EST). 

CE Sponsorship: 

University Counseling Services of Boston College is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. As a co-sponsor of this program, University Counseling Services of Boston College maintains responsibility for this program and its content." Participants will be eligible to receive 1 CE units from University Counseling Services of Boston College. 

The Lynch School of Education and Human Development is providing sponsorship for CEUs for Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC). Participants will be eligible to receive 1 CE unit. These credits are accepted by the Massachusetts Board of Registration for Licensed Mental Health Counselors (Category I contact hours in Content Area I).

Participants must attend the workshop in full and complete the post event survey to be eligible to receive CEs.

This workshop does not offer CEs for social workers or other clinicians not listed above. 

Fees & Policies:

This event is free if you are NOT seeking CEs towards your license. If you plan on seeking CEs for this lecture, the cost is $25. Once you have registered for the class, your CE registration status is fixed and can not be adjusted at a later time.  

Payment is due by credit card at registration. Registration closes January 14th at 5pm. Refunds will be granted only up to the time of the lecture.