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No doubt about it, philosophy is the new rock and roll, and Alain de Botton is its Colonel Tom Parker.
At the heart of this witty, thoughtful, entertaining book is the provocative belief that there is no point in philosophy unless it helps dispel mental sufferings.
In support of such an arguable thesis and to help us overcome such contemporary problems as unpopularity, poverty and wealth, frustration, human weakness and the afflictions of love, Alain de Botton summons a sextet of philosophers.
It would be difficult to name a writer as erudite and yet as reader-friendly as British author Alain de Botton (“Kiss & Tell,” “How Proust Can Change Your Life”).
He seems to have read every book, studied every painting, investigated every philosophy — but he would never dream of lording his accomplishments over his readers.
For example, we can curb our urge to grasp after bigger, more impressive things and learn to appreciate our mundane lives, he argues, by exposing ourselves to art and literature that celebrates the beauty and dignity of the ordinary.
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Likewise, an understanding of the ideals that drive Western religion can help us relinquish our fixation on worldly success.
The title of Alain de Botton’s ride through the clouds is taken from the Roman philosopher Boethius, whose Consolation of Philosophy – not mentioned by de Botton – was a best-seller throughout the Middle Ages, being translated into English by none less than Chaucer.
The long-awaited and beguiling second novel from Alain de Botton that tracks the beautifully complicated arc of a romantic partnership, from the internationally bestselling author of How Proust Can Change Your Life. Alain de Botton combines two unlikely genres--literary biography and self-help manual--in the hilarious and unexpectedly practical How Proust Can Change Your Life.
In his new book, Status Anxiety, de Botton takes readers on a tour through the history of ideas—economic, sociological, and political— to tackle the problem of "status anxiety," which he characterizes as "a worry, so pernicious as to be capable of ruining extended stretches of our lives, that we are in danger of failing to conform to the ideals of success laid down by our society and that we may as a result be stripped of dignity and respect; a worry that we are currently occupying too modest a rung or are about to fall to a lower one." This obsession with our place in society, de Botton writes, emerges from several sources: our fear of lovelessness; inflated expectations about what our lives should bring; our faith in meritocracy (which leads us to believe that modern day academic achievement sorts everyone into their rightful place), snobbery; and the fact that we are at the mercy of "fickle talent," luck, our employers, and the global economy.
But status anxiety, he argues, can be cured—or at least mitigated—if we draw upon the resources of philosophy, art, politics, religion, and bohemia as tools for putting the issue in perspective.