Filosofins tröst

by Alain De Botton

Other authorsNille Lindgren
Paper Book, 2001



Call number




Stockholm : Månpocket, 2001 ;


Alain de Botton's The Consolations of Philosophy takes the discipline of logic and the mind back to its roots. Drawing inspiration from six of the finest minds in history - Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche - he addresses lack of money, the pain of love, inadequacy, anxiety and conformity. De Botton's book led one critic to call philosophy 'the new rock and roll.'

User reviews

LibraryThing member BenDV
I received this as a gift when leaving school from a teacher I'd really got along with. He knew I was intending to do philosophy at uni, hence the choice of book. Not only was it a nice gesture, the book turned out to be a hell of good read too.

What de Botton does with this book is take the
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thoughts of six different philosophers and show some of their writings can provide consolation for six different sorts of problems that most people deal with in their day-to-day lives- Socrates for unpopularity, Epicurus for not having enough money, Seneca for frustration (anger, sense of injustice etc), Montaigne for inadequacies, Schopenhauer for a broken heart, and Nietzsche for difficulties (tragedies etc). I read a few reviews of this book beforehand and found that, while popular with the general public, de Botton's book was criticised by philosophers for trivialising philosophy and giving the public the wrong impression as to what philosophy is. So I made sure not to let the book give me the impression when I went to uni that philosophy could solve all my personal problems. Having now done some proper philosophy, I can confirm that. This is more like self-help done by philosophers than philosophy. But it seems we should try to do more of that, because it turns out to be damn good self-help.

The Consolations of Philosophy is just a fantastic, fascinating and highly useful read. The histories of these six philosophers were very interesting to me, so those alone would have made the book valuable, but even better were the ideas and consolations de Botton extrapolated from the works of these thinkers. They were in some cases, quite exciting and liberating thoughts for me, with my various anxieties. I'd point out which ones I loved most, but quite simply I loved it all with the exception of the chapter on Schopenhauer, whose philosophy, or the portrayals of his philosophy that I have read, I have come across a couple of times now and both times found that I disagree with it strongly. But even then it was highly interesting.

So even if The Consolations of Philosophy is just self-help, I found it to be an incredibly fun, inspiring and absorbing read. I'm not sure if I'll read any of de Botton's other stuff, but I certainly don't regret reading this.
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LibraryThing member manque
This book is highly readable, yet never simple-minded or patronizing to the reader. Alain de Botton succeeds in bringing to life the most important concepts of some of the most important Western philosophers, relating them in a very effective manner to the everyday trials and tribulations any human
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being might experience.

The reviewer who had "trouble" with this approach seems to have missed the point, and to have misunderstood the Socrates section in particular. (Alain de Botton is not suggesting we be consoled by the thought that future generations will think us right; he suggests that if we have reasoned out our position and find it correct by method of such reason, we should not be troubled if that position is unpopular. This is the example Socrates provided, and also what de Botton relates.)

This book will turn you on to Montaigne, to philosophy, and to the possibilities of learning in general. The humor that runs throughout the book makes reading it a pleasure, as well as a worthwhile endeavor.
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LibraryThing member Cecilturtle
This series of essays focuses on six philosophers and six themes. Botton guides the reader through antiquity and the Romantics by giving context, biographical notes and finally a summary of each philosopher's ideas. The essays, because they touch on history, civilization and ultimately philosophy
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can seem a bit disjointed. However, Botton is able to build on each philosopher's ideas, and his humour, mix of modern and historical examples, illustrations (albeit sometimes fuzzy) and synthesis give an excellent overview of certain aspects of his chosen philosopher's notions. Great for neophytes but very basic.
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LibraryThing member fillechaude
This was a fantastic introduction to the world of philosophy. The author took six great philosophers and laid them out in a way that is easy to relate to. I now plan on reading a few more books on the subject!
LibraryThing member brett_in_nyc
This is good. I like Alain, he is fortunate to have had a very rarefied life to write books like this one and his many more. I always say we in the modern west (e.g. New York) are so miserable with ourselves and our lives despite the classics. If we only paid attention to those ancient stories of
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the pain and suffering of countless billions who have gone before us, we wouldn't think ourselves to be so misunderstood and suffering above all worse than anyone ever else. The same is true for Philosophers, but our national narrative would rather we pay for expensive pharmaceuticals and therapy sessions than read books that are now free in the public domain to enlighten and empower us. Anyway, this book is a great short introduction to the major ideas of the enlightenment philosophers that are reflected ad infinitum in our world at large (even if we don't know that).
Have fun with this and Alain's other book about Proust!
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LibraryThing member worldsedge
As surveys go, quite good. Botton obviously dumbed down some of the material to make it easier for a general audience to understand, but it was neither patronizing nor gave the appearance that it was written for children.

It would be interesting to know why he chose the philosophers he did and not
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others, but on balance this was quite well. Especially like the sections on Montaigne and Schopenauer.
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LibraryThing member AndresF
A review of some of the greatest minds through history. Borrowing some of their inspiration to address some of the issues that troubles our minds and causes us anxiety.

Don't know any other book from the author, but if they are as near as good as this one I'm sure to look for them. This book got
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some cyclopean minds on, that on other texts wouldn't be as near as accessible as they are in this book.

One of my favorite bits from Seneca, one of the philosophers from the book: "wisdom lies in correctly discerning where we are free to mold reality according to our wishes and where we must accept the unalterable with tranquility"
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LibraryThing member joshberg
Though not as successful as his quirky and insightful The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton's The Consolations of Philosophy is similarly appealing in its friendly, straightforward presentation of abstract thought. Here, the author tries to demonstrate how six major-league philosophers--Socrates,
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Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche--teach us how to cope with life's difficulties. While the book makes for a fine introduction to these men's lives and thoughts, it falls short of offering any breathtaking wisdom. Nevertheless, it's stylishly written and, at least, marginally consoling.
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LibraryThing member pamplemousse
This is a delight. The philosophy is light-weight (which is a plus), and occasionally dubious, but always enjoyable. I particularly liked the chapter on Consolation for Not Having Enough Money.
LibraryThing member soylentgreen23
I've read a great many books this year, but none have made me so extraordinarily happy as Alain De Botton's little guide to philosophy.

De Botton has assembled a group of six philosophers, linked through time by shared interests and fascinations and a certain philosophical lineage, and uses their
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work to help us in each of six consolations: for unpopularity; for not having enough money; for frustration; for inadequacy; for a broken heart; and for difficulties.

De Botton chooses his philosophers, and their quotables, very wisely, and everything is as clear to follow and as enjoyable as Montaigne himself would have wanted. As well as being very erudite, De Botton's prose is light and humourous, and leads the reader comfortably along; still, there is a lot of time to pause for thought, and I allowed myself twice as long to read this slim volume as I would have done any other book.
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LibraryThing member subbobmail
Alain de Botton has written novels, but over the past two years he has become an expert at writing books that make great/intimidating ideas more fun/accessible. His first venture in this field was How Proust Can Change Your Life, and the one I just finished is The Consolations of Philosophy.

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Botton shares with many philosophers the notion that the greatest works of art and thought are the ones that actually help us to lead better lives -- i.e., help us to be happier. He also shares with Montaigne a conviction that when a reader finds a book to difficult or obscure to understand, the fault usually lies with the writer. If only this were a universally accepted idea -- a lot of academia would vanish, and a lot of bad writing would be revealed as lazy and/or vapid.

Anyway, de Botton uses his wry and amusing voice to extract practical wisdom from a few philosophers. From Socrates we can learn how not to give the opinions of others too much weight; from Schopenhauer we may derive consolation for a broken heart; Seneca can show give us consolation in time of frustration; and so on.

I learned more from this book than from all my philosophy courses in college, which tells you everything to know about higher education AND Alan de Botton.
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LibraryThing member Martin444
Really explains the insights of various philosophers in various areas well and presents them as ways to deal with real life trials. In so doing he shows how practical philosophy (which I always regarded as a very dry topic until I read this) can actually be. He also links the various Western
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philosophers that he examines well showing how there has been progress in philosophical thought.
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LibraryThing member mlhamlyn
thought provoking and in some ways consoling
LibraryThing member neurodrew
This book affected me in a curious way. I was previously familiar with Stoic philosophy, but reading a bit more about Seneca and Epicurus seemed to result in a new satisfaction with my current situation. This is a relatively lightweight philosophy discussion, with many cute photographs, and
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organized around problems of life, with a philosopher to match. Socrates with consolation for unpopularity, Epicurus for not having money, Seneca for frustration, Montaigne with advice on inadequacy. Most curious was Schopenhauer on a broken heart, since he had a unique view of romantic love as being driven by the biological necessity of finding the correct mate. Nietzsche appeared as counsel for difficulties. The keyword for this book is "philosophical counseling" and it appears to be in reference to the new idea of engaging a philosopher for counseling rather than a psychiatrist. The book was quite easy, and went very quickly.
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LibraryThing member John
I enjoyed The Consolations of Philosophy very much. I suspect that it would be philosophy-lite for those steeped in the study, but for the rest of us, it is a well written, articulate, stimulating introduction to how the thinking of some of the world's great philosophers can contribute to the
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contemplation of some of the eternal challenges of life such as unpopularity, not having enough money, frustration, inadequacy, a broken heart, and difficulties. It is also a primer for further reading into these philosophers. Following is an inadequate summary.

Socrates: Epitomized the power of listening to the dictates of reason against all odds, against perceived wisdom, and accepted behaviour, even to the point of death for consistency with one's beliefs.

Epicurus: The need to interpret our indistinct pulses of distress and desire and thereby to save ourselves from mistaken schemes for happiness; need to cease acting on first impulses and instead investigate the rationality of our desires to guide us to superior cures and true happiness. Happiness does not depend on riches and the key ingredients are: friendship, freedom, and the exercise of thought. On death, I particularly like Epicurus's argument that it is senseless to alarm oneself in advance about a state which one will never experience: "There is nothing dreadful in life for the man who has truly comprehended that there is nothing terrible in not living."

Seneca: The Stoic. The concept that Fortune is no moral judge and she inflicts harm with the moral blindness of a hurricane. Wisdom lies in correctly discerning where we are free to mould reality according to our wishes and where we must accept the unalterable with tranquillity. Reason allows us to determine when our wishes are in irrevocable conflict with reality, and then bids us to submit ourselves willingly, rather than angrily or bitterly, to necessities. We may be powerless to alter certain events, but we remain free to choose our attitude towards them, and it is in our spontaneous acceptance of necessity that we find our distinctive freedom.

Montaigne: A new kind of philosophy that acknowledged how far we are from the rational, serene creatures whom most of the ancient thinkers had taken us to be. True wisdom must involve an accommodation with our baser selves. Friendship is an essential component of happiness. I like Montaigne on studying and reading: he implied that there are no legitimate reasons why books in the humanities should be difficult or boring; wisdom does not require a specialized vocabulary or syntax, nor does the audience benefit from being wearied. Every difficult work presents us with a choice of whether to judge the author inept for not being clear, or ourselves stupid for not grasping what is going on; Montaigne sides against the author: "Difficulty is a coin which the learned conjure with so as not to reveal the vanity of their studies and which human stupidity is keen to accept in payment." The true test of the value of a book is whether it is interesting and whether it could help us over anxiety or loneliness. Interesting ideas are to be found in every life: "We are richer than we think, each one of us."A virtuous, ordinary life, striving for wisdom but never far from folly, is achievement enough.

Schopenhauer: Would not have been the cheeriest of dinner companions: "We can regard our life as a uselessly disturbing episode in the blissful repose of nothingness." Happiness was never part of the plan and the darkest thinkers may, paradoxically, be the most cheering: "There is only one inborn error , and that is the notion that we exist in order to be happy." Disappointment could be avoided if people entered love with the correct expectations: "What disturbs and renders unhappy...the age of the hunt for happiness on the firm assumption that it must be met with in life. From this arises the constantly deluded hope and so also dissatisfaction. Deceptive images of a vague happiness of our dreams hover before us in capriciously selected shapes and we search in vain for their original...Much would have been gained if through timely advice and instruction young people could have had eradicated from their minds the erroneous notion that the world has a great deal to offer them." [I understand the sentiment, but I'm not sure this would really help to heal a broken heart!]

Nietzsche: The value of difficulties and the necessity, and therefore the legitimacy, of pain to know joy. Difficult emotions and situations can result, through careful cultivation, in the greatest achievements and joys. We should not feel embarrassed by our difficulties, only by our failure to grow anything beautiful from them. Fulfillment is reached by responding wisely to difficulties that could tear one apart. Nietzsche is harsh on Christianity charging that it, like alcohol, has the power to convince us that what we previously thought deficient in ourselves and the world does not require attention; both weaken our resolve to garden our problems; both deny us chances of fulfillment. Nietzsche would have us approach our setbacks by continuing to believe in what we wish for, even when we do not have it, and may never. We must resist the temptation to denigrate and declare evil certain goods because they have been hard to secure.

A book worth reading and thinking about and going on from.
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LibraryThing member Mockers
De Botton has been described as saying "ah but is it...?" to a lot of modern ideas. Here he offers sound advice for some common problems, advice taken from the life and work of various prominent philosophers. I discovered I'm an Epicurean while reading this, pass the pickled dolphin!
LibraryThing member zen_923
This is a well-written quick read. Gives you basic information on the philosophy of men like Nietzsche, Epicurus and Schopenhauer
LibraryThing member dazzyj
This book manages to make the thoughts of the great philosophers seem breathtakingly banal. And does so in a condescending tone. Avoid at all costs.
LibraryThing member LordKinbote
Once again, de Botton brings a relatable approach to philosophy that makes for an insightful, easy to read work. Obviously not an all-inclusive coverage of the six philosophers chosen, it does provide a novice with a great way to approaching philosophy and makes it easily accessible to the most lay
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of laymen.
I really do enjoy de Botton's style of writing, succinct yet clever and funny. Whether or not this book will fill you with a passion for philosophy or provide consolations for your troubles, it does encourage you to take pause and think about your own life in context of the ideas and approaches of the philosphers. Self-help with a twist.
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LibraryThing member julsitos2
Very fun to read without dumbing down the topics. Great book for the beach!!
LibraryThing member delta351
The book is divided into 6 chapters, which concern the high points of Socrates, Seneca, Epicurus, Montaigne, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche.
The information in this book is by no means complete, but it does give bite sized introductions to each philosopher. I particularly liked the sections on
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Socrates and Montaigne. Socrates because he is almost always featured as a byproduct of Plato, and because I think his life story is very powerful. Montaigne was good because I had never been exposed to any of his work before, and I think his writing is very accessible to the average reader. He also has a knack for being down to earth and easily understood.
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LibraryThing member JLSmither
This book provides light summaries of several philosophers' lives and ideas told in direct relation to modern experiences. Although I'd heard of these thinkers, I've never read any of them directly, and really appreciated these light-hearted but meaty reviews. In fact, the writing is so humorous
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and engaging that I actually listened to this book on CD while on a long car trip. Not exactly beach reading, but entertaining, and now I think I could at least keep up in a conversation about any of these philosophers.
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LibraryThing member Silvernfire
This is an accessible and well-written introduction to philosophy (not all of them are). Instead of going the textbook route, Alain de Botton mixes short biographies of major philosophers with well-organized explanations of their works to show how philosophy can be used to deal with common
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problems. Covering only six philosophers in under 300 pages means that there's only space for the essence of each approach, which keeps the reader from being swamped. For instance, there's a lot in Stoicism about physics, cosmology, virtue, and so on. But de Botton's focus is on what in Seneca's life and writings can help us learn to cope with frustration, and so those topics aren't mentioned. And the whole book is saved from turning into a historical work by de Botton's use of modern examples like falling in love with a fellow passenger on a train or a story of a sudden airplane crash. Most pages in this book have at least one photograph, directly tied to whatever is being discussed at that point. I thought this made the book even more interesting, although I'm wondering how some ereaders will handle it, and if the audiobook version has to make allowances for that.

Generally, I recommend this book both as an introduction to Western philosophy and as a practical demonstration of using philosophy to improve lives.
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LibraryThing member SashaM
History of the early evolution of philosophy. Really easy reading and I found it fascinating.
LibraryThing member datrappert
So many philosophy books get bogged down pretty quickly, and I lose interest. That wasn't the case with this one. Admittedly, it is on the lighter side, but De Botton's choice of philosophers and philosophies is interesting. I found his descriptions of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche to be much more
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understandable than other overviews. And, essentially, he includes stoicism, which is a philosophy we all need more of. He writes with humor and, like Montaigne, he doesn't spare himself as he weaves his story. So, this is very enjoyable and may provide a basis for digging further into these philosophers
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Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

320 p.; 18 cm


9176438163 / 9789176438169
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