Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Another Little Bit of Philosophy

Two More Books

In Ecclesiastes 12:11-12 (New International Version) we read “The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one Shepherd. Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

Aware of this salutary warning, I yet again return to another two interesting books I have recently been reading.  Another wise saying, to balance this rather negative one I have quoted at the outset, and which is worth reflecting on, is: “Always beware of the man who has only studied one book.”  I think it might well be a translation of an Irish proverb, “fear aon leabhair amháin” (“the man of one book”).  The books in question are by the populariser extraordinaire of philosophy, especially in its self-help mode, namely Alain de Botton.  Mr. de Botton is not a professional philosopher at all, his qualifications being rather in history.  However, he writes with wit and a profound understanding of philosophical ideas with respect to how they might help us live our lives in a more effortless and less stressful way.  Mr. de Botton is a writer, essayist and an effective and formidable broadcaster.  Indeed, almost all his books accompany a television programme of the same name.  He is certainly possessed of a marvelously full and sweet English Oxford (where he needless to say studied) accent, but this latter is a treat to listen to – I could listen to him all night.  His popularity is deserved as I have found the two books I have read both stimulating and helpful, not to mention witty, humorous, intelligent, wise, practical and pragmatic.  His website is http://www.alaindebotton.com/index.asp and is worth exploring.  One interesting feature of this wonderful site is that you can download chapters of his books in audio and can listen to his dulcet tones reading from his various books or indeed watch snippets of his TV shows.  The two books I refer to are Status Anxiety and The Consolations of Philosophy.  I will write a review of each of them in future posts over the next few days.
I have yet again published above a peaceful shot I took on the banks of the wonderful Garravogue.

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