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Breakfast With Socrates: A day with the world's greatest minds [Paperback]

Robert Rowland Smith
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 Jun 2010
What does it mean to be awake? What exactly is therapeutic about retail therapy? And what are you really working on when you're at your desk, in the gym, or having dinner? From getting ready in the morning, through heading to work, going to a party, having sex and falling back to sleep, Breakfast with Socrates provides an hour-by-hour commentary on what history's greatest philosophers have said about the meaning behind everything we do. A fascinating exploration of our daily lives, Breakfast with Socrates also draws on literature, art, politics and psychology to offer an informal introduction to the history of ideas that will help anyone to think more healthily. Breakfast will never be the same again...

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Breakfast With Socrates: A day with the world's greatest minds + Driving With Plato: The Meaning of Life's Milestones + Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates
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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (10 Jun 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184668241X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846682414
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 257,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Philosophy made accessible and applied to the quotidian...manages to be funny without underestimating the reader. (Financial Times 2009-10-24)

Smith's book is structured around a day, interrogating activities such as waking up, commuting, going to the doctor, watching TV, or partying. (The Guardian 2009-10-24)

it's hard not to recommend someone who provides you with an argument for not going to the gym, for promoting the power of using the TV remote control and letting your parents pay for lunch! (Sue Magee Bookbag 2009-10-06)

This charming book wears its erudition with ease and suggests that despite what Socrates says, it is in fact the unexamined day that is not worth living. (Publishers Weekly)

The ancient philosophers - and the author - bring meaning to your day...What has philosophy to do with work? What could Kant's transcendentalism, Hegel's dialectic or even Marx's materialism have to say about the daily grind? Well, this book demonstrates that the wisdom of the sages reveals much. (Management Today 2009-11-01)

Smith has written a remarkable book, which goes through the seemingly mundane events of a day - waking up, having a bath, commuting, reading a book, and so on - and explores them with a philosophical eye to see what insights might be gleaned...joyously wise. (Church Times 2009-11-27)

Breakfast with Socrates takes us on an extraordinary philosophical tour of an ordinary day as we wake up with Descartes' awareness of our own consciousness, go off to work with Weber's self-denial, play hooky with John Stuart Mill's passion for individual liberty, and end the day in a nice, warm bath with the Buddha's heightened consciousness of the moment. Who said philosophers aren't practical? (Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, authors of Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar and Heidegger and a Hippo Walk through Those Pearly Gates)

A very thoughtful and continuously entertaining picture of human behaviour ... a filling mental meal that should leave you delightfully satisfied. (Wired) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A journey through an ordinary day in the company of some extraordinary ideas - the book of the 2008 Frankfurt Book Fair that's already destined to be an international bestseller

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The unexamined life 14 Oct 2009
By Ripple TOP 100 REVIEWER
In "Breakfast with Socrates", subtitled A Philosophy of Everyday Life, former Oxford Fellow Robert Roland Smith takes various elements of a 'typical' day and provides insight into what an eclectic collection of thinkers might have to offer to make these mundane routines more interesting. After all, as Socrates declared 'the unexamined life is not worth living'.

My first thought was that Roland Smith leads an enviously full life since his typical day includes not only waking up, getting ready, travelling to work, being at work, taking a bath, cooking and eating, watching TV, reading a book and falling asleep, but he also manages to find time to go to the doctor, have lunch with his parents, bunk off, go shopping, head to the gym, book a holiday, go to a party, have an argument with his partner, have sex and book a holiday - which he no doubt needs after all that. It's a wonder he finds time to think at all with all that going on. It's a clever structure for the book though.

Both titles to the book are potentially a bit misleading. Socrates makes very limited appearances (the author suggests that the book may as well have been titled 'Having a Bagel with Hegel' which appealed more to the inner Dr Seuss in me) and Roland Smith does not limit himself to traditional philosophers for inspiration. Here you will also find an eclectic mix of psychoanalysts, sociologists, painters, psychologists, political writers, anthropologists and writers as well as philosophers to offer their thoughts.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars big thinking for small things 22 Oct 2009
Rowland Smith is a truly gifted communicator. This is the only book I've read that's been able to explain, among other things, continental philosophy to the layperson. Rowland Smith is intellectual without being elitist, eclectic without rambling, serious without being stuffy. The book's strength is that it draws not only on philosophy as we would traditionally understand it, but also the realms of art, literature, pyschoanalysis, anthropology etc - whatever will help to illuminate the practice under consideration (having sex, going to a party, for example). This book is for everyone who loves thinking in all its many forms and would make a good Christmas present, I'd say.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Manual for life to return to again and again 18 Dec 2009
By TimO
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a book that can't be rushed. Taking everyday life situations, the author observes their relationships with philosophical thought and past writings to offer a possible understanding of how they can be approached and handled in a way that is beneficial to living. It is not a guide to a good life, more a presentation of possibilities. No, I've not finished it yet, and don't intend to rush to the final page. However, I believe I will return to it again and again to help my understanding by drawing upon the understanding of others.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Arrived in perfect condition 13 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Thank you, great book, it has got me really thinking! I would recommend it to anyone who's interested in philosophy,
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent if you need a boost about your life 30 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was an eye-opener for me about certain issues I had in my life, and it made me think differently, outside of the box. It made me want to tackle things again. There's no have-to's or don't-do's: you make up your mind about what you want out of your life. A self-help book in some sort of way?
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