The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton

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Synopsis

From the author of How Proust Can Change Your Life, a delightful, truly consoling work that proves that philosophy can be a supreme source of help for our most painful everyday problems.

Perhaps only Alain de Botton could uncover practical wisdom in the writings of some of the greatest thinkers of all time. But uncover he does, and the result is an unexpected book of both solace and humor. Dividing his work into six sections -- each highlighting a different psychic ailment and the appropriate philosopher -- de Botton offers consolation for unpopularity from Socrates, for not having enough money from Epicurus, for frustration from Seneca, for inadequacy from Montaigne, and for a broken heart from Schopenhauer (the darkest of thinkers and yet, paradoxically, the most cheering). Consolation for envy -- and, of course, the final word on consolation -- comes from Nietzsche: "Not everything which makes us feel better is good for us."

This wonderfully engaging book will, however, make us feel better in a good way, with equal measures of wit and wisdom.
 

About Alain de Botton

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Alain de Botton is the bestselling author of How Proust Can Change Your Life, as well as numerous other works of fiction and essays. He is well-known for making complex philosophical and artistic subjects accessible for a wider audience. De Botton founded the School of Life, a series of lectures in London that aim to make academic learning applicable to real life. With the success of the school, this concept was adapted into The School of Life book series. De Botton lives and works in London.
 
Published January 23, 2013 by Vintage. 273 pages
Genres: Self Help, Law & Philosophy, History, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Finally, Nietzsche declares that we should be reconciled to suffering: ``We must learn to suffer whatever we cannot avoid.'' Or, as de Botton sums it up, ``Not everything which makes us feel better is good for us.'' De Botton applies these insights to contemporary situations, and he even writes a...

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Publishers Weekly

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But since the philosophers' opinions often cancel each other out (Montaigne undermines Seneca's trust in rational self-mastery, and Nietzsche repudiates ""virtually all"" that Schopenhauer taught), readers will need to pick and choose whose cogitations to take to heart.

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Austin Chronicle

True to Botton's tendency to simplify beyond logic, he concludes both this book and the account of Nietzsche's sad life and far-from-cheery philosophy (peppered with pictures of, among other things, a Superman comic) with the summary, "Not everything which makes us feel better is good for us.

Jun 23 2000 | Read Full Review of The Consolations of Philosophy

EssenceArticles

After seeing and being mightily impressed with Alain De Botton at the Guardian Hay Festival (see my review) and his ability to engage with a crowd about philosophy in a digestible way, I decided to read his book 'The Consolations of Philosophy'.

Oct 21 2010 | Read Full Review of The Consolations of Philosophy

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