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The Consolations of Philosophy

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The Consolations of Philosophy Cover

 

 

Excerpt

Alain de Botton is the author of On Love, The Romantic Movement, Kiss and Tell, and How Proust Can Change Your Life (available in paperback from Vintage Books). His work has been translated into twenty languages. He lives in Washington, D.C., and London, where he is a director of the Graduate Philosophy Program at London University.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780679779179
Author:
de Botton, Alain
Publisher:
Vintage Books USA
Author:
Alain de Botton
Author:
May, Todd
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Philosophical counseling
Subject:
History & Surveys - General
Subject:
Personal Growth - General
Subject:
Philosophy
Subject:
Consolation
Subject:
History, Criticism, Surveys
Subject:
Philosophy-Surveys
Subject:
General Philosophy
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Series:
Vintage International
Publication Date:
20010431
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
HALFTONES THROUGHOUT
Pages:
240
Dimensions:
8.5 x 5.5 in

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The Consolations of Philosophy Used Trade Paper
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Product details 240 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780679779179 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
Philosopher Todd Mays latest book helps readers to find meaning in their lives, especially those readers who, like Camus, do not look to God.  As Camus says of daily life, “But then one day the ‘why arises and everything begins in that weariness tinged with amazement.” To move beyond that weariness tinged with amazement, we must look, May argues, toward a realm of values that inheres in our practices but that we rarely reflect on systematically: narrative values.  Narrative values offer thematic meaning and a sense of worth to the trajectory of our lives.

 

The book proceeds in five stages.  In the first chapter, May raises the question of meaningfulness, and then rejects the answers he thinks are too easy—God and the universe.  The second chapter considers and rejects the possibility that happiness is good enough.  For a life to be meaningful in the sense many of us seek, it cannot only feel good to us:  it must also meet certain, more objective criteria of meaningfulness.  In the third chapter, the heart of the book, May proposes narrative values as offering those criteria or standards of meaning, values such as steadfastness, adventurousness, or gracefulness.  In chapter four, May contrasts narrative values with both moral values and aesthetic ones, and in chapter five May defends the idea that we can have standards or criteria of meaning that are objective—not simply a matter of personal opinion—even in the absence of God or some foundation upon which to rest our beliefs.  May reflects on what it is to have a meaningful life, and how much or how little comfort we can take from the meaning our lives might express.  Narrative values do not offer us an assurance that our lives have a cosmic significance, and they do not redeem all humankind.  Instead, they give us a framework for reflecting on ourselves that allow us to make sense of and give value to the particular bent of the arc of our lives.

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