Alain de Botton’s been very much on my mind of late. I first got to know the Swiss philosopher’s work by reading his seminal The Architecture of Happiness (1966) and since he set up the School of Life Institute in London and inaugurated the series of books of the same name, I’ve been a total devotee. I mean, who doesn’t need a bit more education in the life department?
De Botton’s goal is to “get ideas to impact on the way we actually live”, so instead of dealing in abstract concepts, he and his colleagues at the School of Life tackle the hard stuff that really concerns most of us: careers, relationships, politics, travel, families… His writing is clear and sympathetic without stumbling into the dead zone of low-brow.
I’ve finished How to Think More about Sex, How to Stay Sane and How to Thrive in a Digital Age, and each provided a clear and sympathetic insight into what, unarmed, can appear quite daunting conundrums. De Botton has assembled a wonderful group of educators, philosophers and analysts who share his romantic and aesthetic take on life and how it might be best navigated, aka: lived to its fullest.
As de Botton puts it, “It’s clear to me that there is no good reason for many philosophy books to sound as complicated as they do.” Like most of life, it’s the simple things that give the most pleasure.