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Publisher's Summary

In ancient Greece or Rome, philosophers were seen as natural authorities on the most pressing questions. However, since then, the idea of finding wisdom from philosophy has come to seem bizarre. Enter a university department today and ask to study wisdom, and you will politely but firmly be shown the door. The Consolations of Philosophy sets out to refute the notion that good philosophy must be irrelevant and gathers together six great philosophers who were convinced of the power of philosophical insight to work a practical effect on our lives.

Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche are studied for the light their work can shine on certain great universal problems - poverty, inadequacy, lovelessness, and so on. They stand as examples of the practical utility of philosophy.

©2000 Alain de Botton (P)2013 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Singlehandedly, de Botton has taken philosophy back to its simplest and most important purpose: helping us live our lives." ( Independent)
"No doubt about it, philosophy is the new rock and roll and Alain de Botton is its Colonel Tom Parker.... A pleasure to read. And good writing, like good philosophy, is always a consolation." (John Banville, Irish Times)
"Few discussions on the great philosophers can have been so entertaining...an ingenious, imaginative book." (Humphrey Carpenter, Sunday Times)

What listeners say about The Consolations of Philosophy

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Barry
  • 03-04-15

Hugely entertaining!!

Would recommend to anyone who has an interest in philosophy. The chapters on Montaigne stand out particularly! A great beginners guide!

5 people found this helpful

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  • euan
  • 01-14-17

Well written and highly enjoyable.

Really good introduction to the core ideas of these philosophers. Perfect for beginners in philosophy.

1 person found this helpful

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  • rita
  • 03-27-21

Consoling and entertaining

I always love Alain de Botton's books and find them to be full of accessible, well explained wisdom. this book was no exception.

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  • Moo
  • 01-27-21

A bit disappointed

I thought this would be a recipe for a fantastic listen. I have an interest in philosophy, and have enjoyed many of Alain's Ted Talks. Unfortunately I found the whole thing a bit disappointing.

I found the writing style difficult to engage with, and it all just dragged on a bit. It didn't feel like it flowed particularly well.

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  • Dr
  • 10-19-20

Wonderful food for thought

Although not written in the same style as religion for atheists, a book I really enjoyed reading, this is a wonderful book that by telling the life stories of philosophers such as Epicurus, Socrates, Seneca, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and others explores their ideas about happiness, anger, fear, friendship, freedom, religion, alcohol and many other things.

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  • Alex Mcg
  • 05-19-20

Valiant attempt

Rather than a reflection on the book, I've simply come to think that philosophy isn't well adapted for engagement outside the classroom.

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  • amanda
  • 02-21-18

writing excellent narration dry

love the writing and content. Not a fan of the narrator. voice lacks animation. wish de Botton had narrated as he's a very engaging speaker

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  • Steven Frew
  • 10-28-17

not a bad read

an interesting t.ake on different philosophers and how they relate to every day Life today.

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  • Luke Bagot
  • 02-02-16

Great introduction to many philosophical concepts

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this to a friend who had not looked into philosophy in great detail. It may be covering old ground for those who have studied philosophy, but I found the way in which the ideas of great thinkers were packaged in to instantly applicable life lessons may give these ideas new life.

What did you like best about this story?

Being predominantly a reader of scientific non-fiction, the prose was unfamiliar and at first slightly frustrating. In the beginning i found myself wishing he would get to the point rather than discussing the way the sunset was playing on the flower petals. I did soften towards this style as the book went on and learnt to enjoy the descriptive style and wait patiently for his ideas to be fleshed out through whatever narrative he was using to illustrate them.

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

I found it better to space it out over several weeks, there is much to reflect on in your own life after each chapter.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-13-20

A fantastic introduction to philosophy

This book on philosophy shares how to deal with life via the teachings of various philosophers. I loved it as many spoke straight into my own experience of life.

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  • Kate Woods
  • 06-11-20

Highly recommend this version

I read this book in print quite a few years ago but got this version as a running buddy; it is a great performance by an engaging narrator of a beautifully written book. If you’re even vaguely interested in philosophy but like me find it “a bit fancy” to read, de Botton’s clear and unfussy writing will definitely appeal.

21 year old me thought this was profound (it is) but deeply understood so little, bless her. With a decade and a half of life under my belt, I can say that this is an interesting listen on the surface as well as an invitation for lots of self reflection if you’re that way inclined.

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  • Kendall
  • 01-07-19

Some Realisations

Neat listen for a round-up of some insights into philosophy on application to problems of today. Enjoyed the chapters on Consolations for Not Having Enough Money (Epicurus) and Consolations for a Broken Heart (Schopenhauer) the most, mainly because they made me think more deeply about things. I guess you take what is most applicable to your life and experience! Just wish we had more female philosophers to draw from...

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-10-18

A Philosophical Prescription For Our Modern Times

I enjoyed the background information about the philosophers and the easy to understand explanation of their thoughts and perspectives.O recommend this book to those looking to rise about the endless chatter of this age and nestle upon a ledge of timeless standing by which one might plot a course towards serenity.