Breakfast with Socrates

  • by Robert Rowland Smith
  • Narrated by Simon Prebble
  • 6 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Have breakfast with Socrates, go to work with Nietzsche, head to the gym with Foucault, then have sex with Ovid (or Simone de Beauvoir).
Former Oxford Philosophy Fellow Robert Rowland Smith whisks you through an ordinary day with history's most extraordinary thinkers, explaining what they might have to say about your routine. From waking up in the morning through traveling to work, shopping, eating, going to a party, falling asleep, and dreaming, Smith connects our most mundane habits to the wider world of ideas.Start with waking up: What does it really mean to be awake? How do we know we're not still dreaming? Descartes argues that if you're able to doubt whether you're awake, you are at least thinking, and so you probably exist -- no small achievement for first thing in the morning. Or take going to the gym: As you toil on the treadmill, is your panting a sign of virtue or of vice, of healthy exertion or of unhealthy narcissism?
,p>Working out is a version of what Max Weber called the Protestant work ethic -- a kind of spiritual exercise, it also leads to worldly vanity.With dry wit and marvelous invention, Smith draws on philosophy, literature, art, politics, and psychology to wake us up to a stunning range of ideas about how to live. Neither breakfast, lunch, nor dinner will ever be the same again.

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What the Critics Say

"Although Smith’s philosophical observations are sometimes overshadowed by his clever, showy prose, the author is genuinely good at making connections between important ideas and lived experience, and successful in showing that philosophy can be a vehicle for making the trivialities of life more meaningful (and hence more bearable) than they otherwise might be." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Craptastic!

Is this really the kind of thing that issues from the pen of an Oxford don?

I like Philosophy, I really do. But this book is a random jumble of shallow thoughts about everyday life. As a previous reviewer noted, topical chapters purport to cover things like "Waking up" and "Going to the Doctor." The author then goes on in the most glancing way possible to link experiences with philosophy.

Great philosophers are given very short shrift, while the author seems to have a lot of interest in things that are not philosophical at all: a chapter on "lunch with your parents" is all about Bert Hellinger, the inventor of "Family Constellations" therapy, who is not a philosopher of any kind. You get the feeling that the author must have gone to Family Constellations Therapy himself, though, since the whole chapter seems like an advertisement for it.

Stay away from this one, it was annoying and boring.


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- Jamie

Philosophy made delightful

This survey of philosophy presents a refreshing twist to the steady plod through the history of metaphysics so often taken by comparative philosophy books. Smith uses the events of a "typical day"-- including waking up, driving to work, sneaking out of the office, and working out at the gym-- to explore current and classical philosophies alike on issues of awareness, identity, freedom, and conformity, respectively-- among many other ideas likewise tied to daily events.

Breakfast With Socrates seems to span an area between philosophy and social science, and often left me going "Hmm. I never thought of it that way".

A breeze to listen to, and delightfully informative.
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- cynthia

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-30-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios