Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Consolations of Philosophy

I finished reading The Consolations of Philosophy, by Alain De Botton, a contemporary philosopher.

De Botton takes us to a journey in the garden of philosophy and gives us consolations for unpopularity (Socrates), not having enough money (Epicurus), frustration (Seneca), inadequacy (Montaigne), a broken heart (Schopenhauer), and difficulties (Nietzsche) buy looking at tragic life stories of these great philosophers. Ironically each one of these men witnessed the drama of integrity of their philosophy tested upon them.

I would like to quote my favourite passages from this fantastic book:
"Yet there is a danger that Socrates' death will disuse us for the wrong reasons. It may foster a sentimental belief in a secure connection between being hated by the majority and being right…We may be neither geniuses nor saints. We may simply be privileging the stance of defiance over good reasons for it, childishly trusting that we are never so right as when others tell us we are wrong.This was not Socrates' intention. It would be as naïve to hold that unpopularity is synonymous with truth as to believe that it is synonymous with error. The validity of an idea or action is determined not by whether it is widely believed or widely reviled but by whether it obeys the rules of logic. It is not because an argument is denounced by a majority that it is wrong nor, for those drawn to heroic defiance, that it is right.The philosopher offered us a way out of two powerful delusions: that we should always or never listen to the dictates of public opinion.To follow his (Socrates') example, we will best be rewarded if we strive instead to listen always the dictates of reason."

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