In ancient Greece or Rome, philosophers were seen as natural authorities on the most pressing questions. However, since then, the idea of finding wisdom from philosophy has come to seem bizarre. Enter a university department today and ask to study wisdom, and you will politely but firmly be shown the door. The Consolations of Philosophy sets out to refute the notion that good philosophy must be irrelevant and gathers together six great philosophers who were convinced of the power of philosophical insight to work a practical effect on our lives.
Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche are studied for the light their work can shine on certain great universal problems - poverty, inadequacy, lovelessness, and so on. They stand as examples of the practical utility of philosophy.
©2000 Alain de Botton (P)2013 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
"Singlehandedly, de Botton has taken philosophy back to its simplest and most important purpose: helping us live our lives." (Independent)
"No doubt about it, philosophy is the new rock and roll and Alain de Botton is its Colonel Tom Parker.... A pleasure to read. And good writing, like good philosophy, is always a consolation." (John Banville, Irish Times)
"Few discussions on the great philosophers can have been so entertaining...an ingenious, imaginative book." (Humphrey Carpenter, Sunday Times)
I would recommend this to a friend who had not looked into philosophy in great detail. It may be covering old ground for those who have studied philosophy, but I found the way in which the ideas of great thinkers were packaged in to instantly applicable life lessons may give these ideas new life.
Being predominantly a reader of scientific non-fiction, the prose was unfamiliar and at first slightly frustrating. In the beginning i found myself wishing he would get to the point rather than discussing the way the sunset was playing on the flower petals. I did soften towards this style as the book went on and learnt to enjoy the descriptive style and wait patiently for his ideas to be fleshed out through whatever narrative he was using to illustrate them.
I found it better to space it out over several weeks, there is much to reflect on in your own life after each chapter.
Would recommend to anyone who has an interest in philosophy. The chapters on Montaigne stand out particularly! A great beginners guide!
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