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on 17 August 2017
Excellent quality, just as described.
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on 25 April 2017
Entertaining, easy read
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on 30 May 2001
After reading some of the reviews on Amazon, I was expecting read a life changing book. The book did not inspire me or alter the way I view life. I did gain some new knowledge of philosophers I had not previous come across. However, I found the book quite shallow in the ideas it was trying to put across. The book is easy and quick to read - suitable reading for the daily commute. However, I think you only really get something out of a book like this if you have never had any contact with greek philosophy (if you want some, read Sophie's World instead).
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on 11 December 2016
Great bibliotherapy. Love having it on my shelf to return to when in need of wise, comforting words.
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on 30 January 2010
I enjoy de Botton's books for their breadth of reading and thinking, in which he applies philosophy to everyday life. I have also read his `Status anxiety', which is somewhat more original.

This book is a commentary and summary of the thoughts of six great philosophers, with a pleasantly quirky individualism from the author intruding. In addition to giving us the essence of their philosophies, he outlines what is known of their lives. The heavy sprinkling of illustrations is entertaining, and relevant to the text.

The six are:
Socrates - Consolation for unpopularity
Epicurus - Consolation for not having enough money
Seneca - Consolation for frustration
Montaigne - Consolation for inadequacy
Schopenhauer - Consolation for a broken heart
Nietzsche - Consolation for difficulties

This is not high-falutin' exegesis of difficult philosophy, but neither it is condescending or simplistic. The author strikes the right note (to my mind), with humour and sagacity. If you want a quick "bluffers guide" to these philosophers, I would recommend this book. De Botton himself has clearly done a deal of research to write these essays. He quotes extensively from the works, annotating the source of every single quotation from an astonishing wide range of books. He has done a lot of digesting for us. He has also travelled to several relevant sites, such as Montaigne's famous circular library.

I learned much from this book. For instance, I knew virtually nothing of Schopenhauer, but now I can place him in the history of thought. I read some Nietzsche at university, but could not grasp the overall point of what he was trying to say - now I think I have grasped the theme. It also inspired me to pick up another book which I have had on my shelves for 30 years - a Penguin edition selection of Montaigne's essays. He is probably the most worthwhile of these six to pursue further.
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on 12 March 2017
all ok
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on 21 April 2017
Great . readable . love it
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on 22 May 2016
This book was a pleasure, at around 250 pages I was addicted and completed it within a week.
It has a diverse plethora or useful and mentally satisfying ideas, and is a fantastic introduction to these philosophers.
My reading list has quadrupled as I've been inspired to read some of the original philosopher's works, Montaigne's Complete Essays n particular.
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on 15 May 2017
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on 1 August 2011
Alain De Botton - Consolations of Phillosphy

Although the book may be a little watered down for anyone who has studied philosophy in detail, De Botton's The Consolations of Philosophy is a nice and easy introduction to some of the heavyweights of philosophy. The lives of the philosophers and what they believed in is summarise in a way that is easily understandable and instantly relevant by applying them to the common problems of today. Each chapter in the book introduces the philosopher, describes their life and in most cases their eventual demise and then goes on to summarise their beliefs on a particular subject.

Socrates is used to understand the need for being popular. One should not care about being disliked by the masses rather we should consider the logic behind their dislike and if we find it flawed it should be ignored. Since, "true respectability stems not from the will of the majority but from proper reasoning."

Epicurus on not having enough money, the things that we think make us happy (typically material) often don't rather this is borne from the "idle opinions of those around us, which do not reflect the natural hierarchy of our needs." According to Epicurus, it is possible to be happy with small sums of money, since happiness stems from meeting psychological needs: friends, freedom and reflection.

Seneca on frustration, frustration is the difference between our desires and reality and that if we temper our expectations (or just be realistic) we can reduce the effect by which the world can frustrate us, "best endure those frustrations which we have prepared ourselves for and understand."

Montaigne on inadequacy, we are better than we think we are. "If we attend properly to our experiences and learn to consider ourselves plausible candidates for an intellectual life, it is... open to all of us to arrive at insights no less profound than those in the great ancient books."

Schopenhauer on a broken heart, we are attracted to people because of this powerful desire to reproduce and this desire if rejected could and should lead to hurt "since without promising us the greatest happiness we could imagine" this force would not be powerful enough to draw us to act romantically in the first place.

Nietzsche on difficulties, to achieve a fulfilled life one must experience some degree of misery because "no one is able to produce a great work of art without experience, nor achieve a worldly position immediately... in the gap between who we wish to be one day and who we are present, must come pain, anxiety, envy and humiliation."

Anyone like myself who has not studied philosophy but has a natural curiosity, The Consolations of Philosophy is a nice, bite size starter, an easy and enjoyable read, a stepping stone to reading the source texts.
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