Book Review: The Consolations of Philosophy
By Alain De Botton
The Consolations of Philosophy
Every now and then, a book surfaces that blends a remarkable level of insight with an enjoyably light tone. ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’ fits this description perfectly. Rather than being overly serious, it exudes the aura of a pleasant, inspiring chat. Moreso, I doubt there is anyone who could reach the end of this work and not feel truly transformed in the process.
A casual chat about philosophy
There is something truly approachable about De Botton’s writing style.
It’s more like a casual chat at a cafe about these fascinating philosophers and what they have to offer us today. Alain has the incredible ability to make philosophy come to life so that it becomes relevant to who we are now and how we can apply it to our lives.
Six examples for us all to take onboard
De Botton offers up six chapters covering different topics within ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’; Unpopularity, Not Having Enough Money, Frustration, Inadequacy, A Broken Heart and Difficulties.
With each, he talks about the challenges and insight that a philosopher from the past has experienced in relation to that. For instance, in talking about unpopularity, he discusses the story of Socrates who had been condemned to death by the people of Athens for standing true to his values and beliefs.
Making the wisdom and insight of philosophers accessible
It’s rare to have someone say that the central topic of their work is Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche and yet manage to make it easy to read and accessible, yet that is exactly what De Botton has managed to do.
Didn’t think you could relate to Nietzsche? Perhaps give this book a try and see how you feel afterwards.
The origins of each philosophy
De Botton also has the wonderful capability of fusing various elements of the ancient world into his presentation. By doing this, he is able to give a richer understanding of where that philosopher’s train of thought had originated from.
By exploring everything from the art, the architecture, or the commonly shared beliefs of society at that time, De Botton is able to provide some of the ‘missing keys’ to our understanding and allow us a more in-depth peak into that world.
It is this ability that really brings his ideas and concepts to life and allows us to bridge the gap of many hundred years and find connection with some of the great thinkers who have gone before.
Purchase ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’
You can purchase the paperback of ‘The Consolations of Philosophy’ here.
You can purchase the Kindle version here.
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