The Law of Jante

Every 2 weeks on Sunday

Honolulu Coffee Company

1800 Kalakaua Avenue Honolulu, HI 96815 · Honolulu, HI

How to find us

We are normally seated at one of the two long tables on the makai side of the building. Unsure? Just ask ... we're friendly!

Location image of event venue


Topic of this event: The Law of Jante.

In America, we are taught to admire success … we look up to those who have climbed above the crowd: tech giants like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, singers like Bruno Mars or Rihanna, athletes such as LeBron James or Stephen Curry. These are our role models because deep down we associate the good life with achieving fame and fortune. Our nation has turned individualism into a kind of folk religion.

There is, however, another way to look at life. Many people in the Nordic countries follow a custom that is somewhat facetiously referred to as the "law of Jante" (Jantelagen in Swedish). Self-promotion, bragging and "standing out from the crowd" are generally frowned upon. Playing down one's own accomplishments is considered good form.

And guess what? In the U.N. World Happiness Report for 2019, the nation ranked as the happiest on earth was Finland--closely followed by Denmark (second) and Norway (third). Iceland, long ruled by the Danes, came in fourth while Sweden ranked a respectable seventh out of the 156 nations surveyed. By comparison, the United States--with all of its wealth and power--was nineteenth. None of this was really a surprise, however: in the 2018 World Happiness Report, Finland had also placed first, with Norway (number two) and Denmark (number three) swapping places. Iceland
ranked fourth that year as well, and Sweden was also in the top ten (at number nine). The United States placed eighteenth. And the preceding year? Well, Norway came in first, followed by Denmark, while Iceland was in the third slot and Finland was rated sixth. Sweden ranked tenth--and America was fifteenth that year.

In short, it appears that the Nordic nations have a lock on happiness. Why this so, and whether or not it has anything to do with the Law of Jante, seems to be a discussion worth having. Just perhaps, we Americans could learn a thing or two!

This group is committed to "practical" philosophy: We will begin each session by discussing a current topic of interest ... immigration, gun control, race, etc., etc ... and will tease out the moral and ethical issues that arise from that topic.

Then, over a cup or two of good coffee, we will challenge each other to see how our personal opinions relate to the larger world view and understanding of life that each of us brings to the table. The goal is not necessarily to persuade others to adopt our point of view. Rather, we seek to clarify our own thinking and in doing so, arrive at a deeper understanding of the world around us.

All views, religious beliefs and political opinions are welcome and respected please don't hesitate to join us. However, we do ask everyone to keep the discussion respectful. We are a friendly group!

No prior education or experience needed ... anyone who looks around and asks "why?" is engaged in philosophy. Join us!