The Consolations of Philosophy

Alain De Botton

I first saw the television show "Philosophy: A Guide to Happiness" and enjoyed it immensely. On finding out the series was based on the book, I couldn't wait to read it.

Basically. it is an attempt to bring philosophy into our everyday lives. Sure a lot of philosophy is stupid and rambles on about whether a chair really exists or not, but over the thousands of years and millions of words, some good has come of it.

De Botton is very selective about what he chooses from each philosopher, Nietzsche, who was in actuality a complete bastard, is portrayed as a misguided soul searching for love, and the bits where he recommends taking a whip to women are left out. Socrates who said all sorts of stupid things about how the gods could be logically proved to exist becomes a martyr of the highest order dying the perfect death to show us all how unpopularity is often the nobler course.

Really when it comes down to it, should we let peoples vast stupidity blind us from the positive and helpful things they might have to say that can help us in our own lives? Even the dullest mind it seems can be really right about something when others around them are blind to it.

This is a fabulous book, and I really was changed by the parts about Epicurus. This book achieves what it sets out to do, give us a philosophical insight into ourselves through the words of the great philosophers, and is written in a witty, idiosyncratic and amusing style. Very enjoyable read.

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