Consolations of philosophy


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Consolations of philosophy

  1. 1. The consolations of philosophy Book review
  2. 2. Consolation of philosophy• Written by Boethius• 524 AD• Conversations between Boethius and lady philosophy• Discusses transitory nature of fame and wealth
  3. 3. The consolations of philosophy• Author – Alain de Botton
  4. 4. Consolations for• Unpopularity• Poverty• Anger/Frustration• Inadequacies• Broken heart• Hardships
  5. 5. Consolations for unpopularity• Socrates (469 BC to 399 BC)• Main contribution – The Socratic method of questioning• Thinking logically about our lives may make us more certain of ourselves, more independent, less conformist
  6. 6. The Socratic method• Statement – Being virtuous requires money• Where could this statement not be true ? – Is it possible to be virtuous and not have money – Is it possible to have money and not be virtuous• People who have money are virtuous only if they acquired it in a virtuous way and people who are virtuous may have lived through professions or situations where it was impossible to make money
  7. 7. Homework Exercise• Try the Socratic method on the following statements – The best jobs are the ones highly paid – Having ones own business is better than a salaried job – Marriage brings happiness
  8. 8. Execution of Socrates • Accused of – Not worshipping the Gods – Introducing religious novelties – Corrupting young menDon’t listen to dictates of public opinion but only to the dictates of reason
  9. 9. Consolations for poverty• Epicurus - 341 BC-270 BC• Pleasure is the beginning and goal of a happy life• However, Intuitive answers to “ What will make me happy/healthy” not correct
  10. 10. Consolation for poverty• The best things in life are free – Natural and necessary (Friends,Freedom,Thought) – Natural but unnecessary (Grand house, banquets, Servants, fish and meat) – Unnatural and unnecessary (Fame and power)• Happiness may be difficult to attain, however the obstacles are not primarily financial
  11. 11. The way to happiness• Happiness is a tricky issue – We aren’t good at knowing what will make us happy – What we want is not what we need – A philosopher may help you find it more easily than a credit card would• Modern ideal of having all the money to go shopping may be wrong• Pleasure is the most important thing in life, not luxury• Blame advertising – It makes us feel there are all sorts of things missing in our lives – Bacardi and friends, Tommy Hilfiger and Freedom, Whisky (after the tussle) – Solution (?) – • Disclaimers – House advt. that says “Happiness not included” • Advtertisements that reminded you of the value of friends, freedom and a thoughtful life
  12. 12. Consolations for anger• Seneca (3 BC – 65 AD)• Tutor to Nero the Roman emperor• “What need is there to weep over parts of life ? The whole of it calls for tears”
  13. 13. Consolations for anger• What makes us angry are dangerously optimistic notions about the world• We will cease to be angry when we cease to be so hopeful• Stoic philosophy - tenets – We do not always control our world – We should be prepared for disaster to strike at any point• Not meant to depress but to prepare for reality
  14. 14. The wheel of fortune“Nothing ought to be unexpectedby us. Our minds should be sentforward in advance to meet all theproblems, and we shouldconsider, not what is wonthappen, but what can happen.What is a man? A vessel that theslightest shaking, the slightesttoss, will break. A body weak andfragile”
  15. 15. Pompeii, AD 79
  16. 16. Execution of Seneca
  17. 17. Consolations for inadequacy• Michel de Montaigne (1533 -1592)• Popularized the essay as a literary genre• Influenced Descarte, Pascal, Emerson and Neitzche (among others)
  18. 18. Chateau (Castle)
  19. 19. The three inadequacies• Bodily inadequacy – Our bodies hold the mind hostage to its whims and rhythms• Cultural inadequacy – Spanish slaughter of Incas and Aztecs (whose population dropped from 80 to 10 million)• Intellectual inadequacy – Goal of education should be to make us good and wise, not learned• A virtuous life, striving for wisdom but never far from folly is achievement enough
  20. 20. Consolations for a broken heart• Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860)• Read a few pages of the Upanishads every night• Key work – “The world as will and representation” – Inspiration from Tat Twam Asi (Chandogya Upanishad)
  21. 21. Schopenhauer on Love• The ultimate aim of all love affairs ... is more important than all other aims in mans life; and therefore it is quite worthy of the profound seriousness with which everyone pursues it.• What is decided by it is nothing less than the composition of the next generation ...
  22. 22. Love and happiness• Love is biological – Sole purpose is propagation of human race• The will of the species is more powerful than the will of the individual – Leads to overlooking all faults in the lover• Love has nothing to do with happiness – The person who is very suitable for our child is never suitable for us• “It seems in the making of a marriage, either the individual or the interests of the species must come off badly”
  23. 23. Consolations for hardships• Friedrich Neitzche ( 1844- 1900)• Misfortune is better than good fortune – A necessary evil – “That which does not kill me, makes me stronger”• “Instant cures produce a far greater worsening of the complaint”
  24. 24. Consolations for hardships/failure• Any worthwhile achievement was borne out of constant struggle and hardwork• A successful life will involve failure at some level• Many great people were not born gifted, they acquired greatness• Suffering is not enough, the challenge is to respond well to suffering – Use dark situations to create something beautiful (much like gardeners)
  25. 25. Advice from Neitzche• Build house on slopes of Mt. Vesuvius – Life is a risky affair• Our worries are vital clues pointing the way to the ultimate improvement• Bad response to a failure – Head for the pub (religion is very similar) – Dousing pain douses energy that can give real happiness – Happiness does not come from escaping trouble, it comes from cultivating them
  26. 26. Other ideas from Neitzche• Dichotomy of good and evil is a catastrophic error• Nihilism – Nothing has any intrinsic importance and life has no purpose• Will to power – Desire to expand ones power more important than adaptation and struggle to survive
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