The Consolations of Philosophy

  • by Alain de Botton
  • Narrated by Simon Vance
  • 6 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Alain de Botton has performed a stunning feat: He has transformed arcane philosophy into something accessible and entertaining, useful and kind. Drawing on the work of six of the world's most brilliant thinkers, de Botton has arranged a panoply of wisdom to guide us through our most common problems. From the frustration of misplacing your keys to the sadness of losing a loved one, the writings of Seneca can offer consolation. For the particular agony of not having enough money, Epicurus has a solution that everyone can afford. And if your life is beset by difficulty after difficulty, wise advice may be found in the words of Nietzsche, the brilliant philosopher whose own life was riddled with poverty, bad health, and excruciating loneliness. The Consolations of Philosophy is smart, lucid, and pleasing, a rare sort of book that wonderfully fulfills the promise of its title.

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What the Critics Say

"De Botton, genial, accurate, humane guide to the thinkers at hand, has written a rich and useful book." (Washington Post Book World)
"The quietly ironic style and eclectic approach will gratify many postmodern readers....An enjoyable read with 'a few consoling and practical things' to say." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Cheering, empathic, helpful

Sometimes our opinion of a book indicates what we are, moreso than the book. Alain de Botton's reflections are for those people who are in touch with their pain, great and small, and who are inclined to solve their problems by understanding them. Frankly, philosophy's greatest value might be to raise the heads of the downtrodden--to console them, not to allow them to look down their noses at others. Forget what snobs are saying about the use of "Philosophy" in the title, both here and on bookstore sites. If you're a person who examines his or her life seriously, then you will find helpful and invigorating ideas about your existence by an articulate, sensitive author. Botton even addresses snobbery. Oh, and the narration is great; Vance at his best.
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- Austin

I Recommend ...

What did you love best about The Consolations of Philosophy?

This book got mixed reviews in its print version, and I understand why. If you were a philosophy major in college or a hard core philosopher this overview of the giants in philosophy might appear watered down. Not for me. As someone who was exposed to these thinkers years ago, but felt a need to return to their ideas, I thought this overview was accessible and contextual. It provided a thread of philosophical thought through the ages than console a person on a variety of subjects. I truly enjoyed it.


What was one of the most memorable moments of The Consolations of Philosophy?

Hard to say. Because I am an amateur athlete I was drawn to his assessment of Nietzsche and overcoming difficulty, but all of the chapters were of equal interest.


Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have, and he always does a very good job. For this material his European accent helps with describing the paintings and cities cited in the text.


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I rarely do that, but I did listen to in short period of time. This is not a long book. I enjoy shorter books between longer books I usually listen to, it breaks things up a bit.


Any additional comments?

I enjoy books about Non-Fiction a bit more than The Great Courses Series. This book is a good example of a great presentation on a weighty subject that is handled is an way that is accessible to all readers. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to revisit Philosophy but doesn't want to wade through a complex discussion of a sometimes dense topic. Well done Audible!

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- thomas

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-09-2006
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.