Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
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A practical book on how the philosophy of six different thinkers (Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche) can console us from what is ailing us in different realms of everyday life: holding opinions that run against the majority, struggling to be happy, avoiding frustration, learning to live with our own personal faults, love problems, and the endeavor for self-improvement and overcoming difficulties. All in all, this volume makes an excellent gift for any young person who is starting to become aware of his/her surroundings and is also starting to deal with these very same issues.
On a side-note, plenty of people would characterize this book as "self-help" and would write a few derisive comments about it. Sure, it does not provide a profound, in-depth analysis of the thought of the six philosophers that are covered. And what? That was never the objective of the book. I am convinced there is something to say in favor of people who, like Alain de Botton, manage to look at the great work of thinkers and authors and connect it to our own lives.
Jesus Ortega Segura said on Aug 14, 2012, 18:27
De Botton on the philosophies and lives of Socrates, Epicures, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer, Nietsche. He does not just describe these six (and a few more), but reflects (yes, Epicurus) their thinking in his own life. Very candid at times and hence more memorable. Well written.
Jw. said on Feb 25, 2012, 15:27
A thought provoking book by citing the stories of six great philosophers.
Consolation of Unpopulalrity, on Socrates, provides a good case study of critical thinking.
The second section, Consolation for Not Having Enough Money, is real inspiring when Epicurus said "the desire for riches should perhaps not always be understood as a simple hunger for a luxurious life, a more important motive might be the wish to be appreciated and treated nicely." This is the same insight as provided by "Wellbeing" of Tom Rath!
The next one, Consolation of Frustration, cites Seneca who proposed one main cause of frustration: mismatch of reality and expectation. It reminds me another book "the five things we cannot change"
However, the next two, consolation of inadequacy and a broken heart, on Montaigne and Schopenhauer respectively, are rather boring.
The last one, consolation of difficulties on Nietzsche, is quite insightful. It states that the sources of our greatest jous lying awkwardly close to those of our greatest pains. Just like you have to endure when you have to climb up the summit. Or to use the word of Montaigne, the art of living lies in finding uses for our adversities.
Waleswong said on May 02, 2011, 06:48
Shinyuin said on Jun 10, 2009, 15:43
I finished this book in one sitting, I was so entranced by it! I understand that de Botton is not well thought of by "proper" philosophy scholars but I find him more than adequate as a philosophy pleb.
Snarkattack said on May 29, 2009, 18:25
My first Alain de Botton book - and it was a fun read! He shows that philosophy doesn't always deal with incomprehensible questions about existence. His chapters tell us what thinkers have tried to deal with unpopularity, not having enough money, frustration, inadequacy, and broken hearts. My favorite is probably Arthur Schopenhauer - the ultimate pessimist whose life esssentially sucked until he suddenly became famous when he turned 60.
Michaelkchan said on Nov 01, 2008, 10:57
Liked his style of writing and apparently he has really given some good thought to the selection of the philsophy fitting the subject matter. Liked some chapters e.g. on Socrates, Seneca...but doubt whether he really has offered "consolations" in all of these e.g. cannot agree to his choice of e.g. Schopenhauer. Rather more distressing than consoling really i.e. Nietsche. (May be my own beliefs has affected my views which would be very personal and subjective of course.)
Judy Mama said on Sep 15, 2008, 10:29
To me, this book is several things at once: a short course on philosophy, a concise biography of six philosophers, a self-help book - in any case, an inspiring read. Citing Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, the book deals with six of the most commonplace agonies we human beings face. Rather than telling us what to do (as in most self-help books), Alain de Botton anchors his advice on solid philosophical foundations and reassures us that whatever pains we suffer, there is a way out, if we can try to understand what wise men had to say on the matter.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who feels sick of those self-help books that offer dubious advice and repetitious counsel. This is a substantial book - not in the number of its pages, but in the depth of its teachings.
Holmes said on Jul 08, 2008, 15:09
HENRY said on May 09, 2008, 01:56
fatfacefan said on Oct 28, 2007, 10:24