Sunday, December 7, 2014

My philosophy club is discussing a book by Alain de Botton: The Consolations of Philosophy

Definition of consolation:  Comfort received by a person after a loss or disappointment

6 chapters:
2.Not having enough money
5.Broken Heart

I would like to discuss the following quotes from each chapter

chapter 1.
 page 6 of 244  In conversations, my priority was to be liked, rather to speak the truth
page 7 Philosophy had supplied Socrates with convictions in which he had been able to have rational confidence when faced with disapproval
page 13  But it is not only the hostility of others that may prevent us from questioning the status quo.
....It is for help in overcoming our meekness that we may turn to Socrates
page 16 The sandal-less philosopher raised a plethora of questions to determine whether what was popular happened to make any sense.
page 23 Socrates encourages us not to be unnerved by the confidence of people who fail to .... formulate their views...with rigor..
page 24 The Socratic method of thinking ... step 3. If an exception is found, the definition must be false or at least imprecise
page 29 What should worry us is not the number of peole who oppose us, but how good their reasons are for doing so
page 36 We should not look to Socrates for advice on escaping the death sentence
page 42 The validity of an idea or action is determined not by whether it is widely believed...but by whether it obeys the rules of logic

Chapter 2
page 53 At the heart of Epicurean-ism is the thought that we are as bad at intuitively answering "what will make me happy?"
page 55 The task of philosophy was, for Epicurus, to help us interpret our indistinct pulses of distress and desire and thereby save us from mistaken schemes for happiness.
page 58  There are few better remedies for anxiety than thought.  In writing a problem down or airing it in conversation we let its essential aspects emerge.

Chapter 3
page 80 And yet, for Seneca, in so far as we can ever attain wisdom, it is by learning not to aggravate the world's obstinacy through our own responses.... Philosophy must reconcile us to the true dimensions of reality, and so spare us, if not frustration itself, then at least its panoply of pernicious accompanying emotions.
page 85 We will cease to be so angry once we cease to be so hopeful
page 89 We are mistaken if we believe any part of the world is exempt and safe.. Nature has not created anything in such a way that it is immobile
Page 91 We do not know what will happen next
Page 96 Seneca more wisely asks us to consider that bad things probably will occur, but adds that they are unlikely ever to be as bad as we fear
Page 98 It wasn't hypocrisy.  Stoicism does not recommend poverty; it recommends that we neither fear nor despise it.
Page 99 The frustration caused by the inanimate object is compounded by a sense that it holds one in contempt
Page 100 It is tempting,  when we are hurt, to believe that the thing which hurt us intended to do so.
Page 107 .... for Seneca, wisdom lies in correctly discerning where we are free to mould reality according to our wishes and where we must accept the unalterable with tranquility
Page 107 Our leash is long enough to give us a degree of leeway, but not long enough to allow us to wander wherever we please
Page 109 We can as easily go astray by accepting the unnecessary and denying the possible, as by denying the necessary and wishing for the impossible.  It is for reason to make the distinction
Page 109 We may be powerless to alter certain events, but we remain free to choose our attitude towards them, and it is in our spontaneous acceptance of necessity that we find our distinctive freedom

Chapter 4
Page 144  Through these books, Montaigne could gain legitimacy for parts of himself of which there was no evidence in the vicinity
Page 146 By travelling....Montaigne invited us to exchange local prejudices and the self-division they induced for less constraining identities as citizens of the world.
Page 146 ...a friend being, among other things, someone kind enough to consider more of us normal than most people do
Page 158  Montaigne encouraged us to blame the author.  An incomprehensible prose-style is likely to have resulted more from laziness than cleverness
Page 168 A virtuous ordinary life, striving for wisdom but never far from folly, is achievement enough

Chapter 5
Page 178 Schopenhauer :  "We shall be quite civilized only when ... it is no longer anyone's right to cut through the consciousness of every thinking being... by means of whistling, howling, belowing... and so on"
Page 181  As fame brings more attention from women, Schopenhauer's views on them soften
Page 189 Our will-to-life drives us towards people who will raise our chances of producing beautiful and intelligent offspring
Page 198 They would never have grown so disappointed if only they had entered love wiht the correct expectations
Page 199 ...we can go to the theatre, the opera and the concert hall, we can read novel, philosophy and epic poems---an it is in these activities that Schopenhauer located a supreme source of relief from the demands of the will-to-life

Chapter 6
page 205 Nietzsche had realized that difficulties of every sort were to be welcomed by those seeking fulfillment..
Page 215 Nietzsche was striving to correct the belief that fulfillment must come easily or not at all, a belief ruinous in its effects, for it leads us to withdraw prematurely from challenges that might have been overcome if only we had been prepared for the savagery legitimately demanded by almost everything valuable
Page 224 As Nietzsche's beloved Montaigne had explained in the final chapter of the Essays: We must learn to suffer whatever we cannot avoid..
Page 233 The thought of Utilitarianism, and even the nation from which it had sprung, enraged Nietzsche
Page 237 There may be differences between such words and a drink but Nietzsche insisted on an essential equivalence.  Both Christianity and alcohol have the power to convince us that what we previously thought deficient in ourselves and the world does not require attention, both weaken our resolve to garden our problems; both deny us the chance of fulfillment
page 243 Like his pastor father, Nietzsche had been committed to the task of consolation....But unlike pastors ...he had judged difficulties to be a critical prerequisite of fulfillment, and hence knew saccharine consolations to be ultimately more cruel than helpful.  .
page 243 Not everything which makes us feel better is good for us.  Not everything which hurts may be bad

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