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The Consolations of Philosophy

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  24,138 ratings  ·  2,321 reviews
Alain de Botton's The Consolations of Philosophy takes the discipline of logic and the mind back to its roots. Drawing inspiration from six of the finest minds in history - Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche - he addresses lack of money, the pain of love, inadequacy, anxiety and conformity. De Botton's book led one critic to call philosophy ' ...more
Paperback, 265 pages
Published April 3rd 2001 by Vintage (first published January 2000)
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Jamie Bitzenhofer That's in the first part of "Consolation for Inadequacy" which covers Michel de Montaigne. It's on page 120 in the Vintage International edition. …moreThat's in the first part of "Consolation for Inadequacy" which covers Michel de Montaigne. It's on page 120 in the Vintage International edition. (less)

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Ahmad Sharabiani
The Consolations of Philosophy, Alain de Botton

The Consolations of Philosophy is a nonfiction book by Alain de Botton. First published by Hamish Hamilton in 2000.

The title of the book is a reference to Boethius's magnum opus Consolation of Philosophy, in which philosophy appears as an allegorical figure to Boethius to console him in the year he was imprisoned, leading up to his impending execution.

In Consolations, de Botton attempts to console the reader through everyday problems (or at least
Riku Sayuj

As I went through the book I was unable to make up my mind whether it was a work on philosophy masquerading as a self-help book to reach a wide audience or if it was a pretentious self-help book with aspirations to be a book on deep philosophy.

Even after I finished it, I am not sure how to judge it. Should I judge it harshly for picking and choosing among the works of these great philosophers to fit them into the narrow framework that Botton has drawn for them and thus making them draw his yoke?
Nov 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: philosophy
Now, you may laugh, but I thought this was one of the best philosophy-related books I've ever read. I recognize that it's pretty basic, a little silly, etc., but for some reason it did it for me. It's short and sweet and it humanizes otherwise esoteric knowledge.

After I blazed through this book one evening, I went on to read the actual writings of Epicurus, Nietzsche, and Montaigne. It was the spark I needed to get me reading philosophy again.

I heartily recommend it. :-)
Oct 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Absolutely everyone
I have read quite a few of the original works from all the philosophers covered in this book; this nails the relevent ideas and is waaaaaay easier to read. This book could and should replace the entire pop psychology and self help sections of any bookstore. Botton reveals the truth that most of the ideas authors of those genres have been slinging around and re-using for so long were actually written a long long time ago. His format works best here and shows us that philosophy is not some far off ...more
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Alain de Botton is on a quest for perspective.

His first outing, How Proust Can Change Your Life, brought that legendary figure front and center in an engaging study of the Proustian approach to the universe - with special attention paid to insights useful enough to assist us in navigating the world today. Having tested those waters and determined them sufficiently warm, de Botton has moved on from Marcel to the far more ambitious (and dustier) sextet of Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Sch
May 31, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
This is a self-help book providing a very simplified, popularized version of the approach to the problems of human life as expressed by some major philosopher such as Socrates, Seneca, Epicurus, Montaigne, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche.
I have mixed feelings about this book: while the author is undoubtedly quite good at providing a very readable, witty and fluent narrative, on the other hand it must be said that there can be a blurred boundary between oversimplified interpretations and unoriginal plati
Apr 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Alain de Botton is a kind of Everyman’s philosopher – which is exactly how I like my philosophers. (In fact, he teaches philosophy at the University of London). The book is a quick romp through a half-dozen philosophers, from Socrates to Nietzsche, by applying their philosophies to the author’s everyday problems. For example, he explains Epicurus’ thought in relation to his own issues about wanting material things. Much to my surprise, Epicurus turns out to have little to do with the hedonism I ...more
Aug 31, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Arthur Schopenhauer once said "When some political or ecclesiastical pamphlet, or novel, or poem is making a great commotion, you should remember that he who writes for fools always finds a large public. A precondition for reading good books isn't reading bad ones: for life is short."

I can only imagine cheery old Schopster had this kind of fluff in mind when he wrote that down. This book is garbage, and I could go on for hours about how terrible Alain De Bottom is with his fraudulent self help p
Nov 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
”Courage is intelligence endurance.”
”The man who stands in the ranks and fights the enemy is contagious.”

This book kept me company during a (pretty much) sleepless night.
It reads as a philosophical “self help” book.

The first chapter ”Consolation For Unpopularity”. gives advice, mostly from the ancient philosopher Socrates, on how to question life itself and the status quo. Being successful and being criticised aren’t always to be taken at face value.

The other Consolations (and the philosopher’
Dec 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Concise, relevant, down to earth, pragmatic.

The spin of the book is that philosophy can help you overcome obstacles in your life (unpopularity, poverty, frustration and a broken heart among others). It's a cute angle, but not to be taken too seriously.

This book is a refresher, a booster injection to remind you of the contributions put forward by a handful of thinkers. A wholesome tidbit before tackling Sophie's World or similar.

This shot contains: Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenha
Todd N
Sep 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a strange and enjoyable mixture of philosophy and self-help (and potty words!), divided neatly into six philosophers and six vexing problems. They can be read in any order. I couldn't wait for Nietzsche (the last section) so I skipped ahead and read that fourth instead of sixth.

Here are the six philosophers and the corresponding issues:
Socrates => Unpopularity
Epicurus => Material Want
Seneca => Anger
Montaigne => Feelings of Inadequacy
Schopenhauer => Heartache
Nietzsche => Frustration
David Sarkies
Aug 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christians to get an understanding of how philosophy works
Recommended to David by: A friend from work who bought this book for me as a Kris Kringle
Shelves: philosophy
Philosophers show us how to handle life
11 August 2013

I guess the question that has been raised a number of times is whether this book is a self-help book. I guess the problem with self-help books is that people don't like to be seen reading them because it creates the suggestion that maybe they have problems and that their life is not where they want it to be – in a sense it is a neon sign that blares to the world 'I am weak and helpless'. This is probably why people don't like to admit that th
Mehwish Mughal
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mehwish by: Mjaballah
The Background story

About 2 years ago, I was having a conversation with a friend about the whys and hows of life. He suggested that I read The Consolations of Philosophy .
Back then I was only interested in hard sciences and never even thought in my wildest dreams that I would be reading philosophy and 2 years later switch my education from Science to Arts.

So, when I read the book I was in complete fascination with the philosophers and their philosophies. I went further and read extensively o
Kislay Verma
Jul 08, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Absolute, complete, TRASH!

I have ranted extensively about this book at SolomonSays, but still not over it - so here goes again.

This is not a philosophy book. The discipline of philosophy is the discipline of asking questions and finding out answers. On the contrary, the formula of The Consolations of philosophy is quite the opposite. The author will find out the answers for your common problems, and dish them out. On top of that, his answers are not his own. He just plucked out six great thinke
Nov 04, 2015 rated it liked it
I am wondering if I should consider this book a self-help book with a philosophical aspect in which the author attempts to address life’s difficulties through a trip with the well-known philosophers.
For instance, he starts with Socrates and the consolation for unpopularity: the author sheds the light on the fact that we tend to associate what is popular with what is right. “We may be silenced by impressive figures who tell us forcefully that money is essential to virtue”. Moreover, he quotes So
Jun 14, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Book started off strong. I was very interested in the sections about Socrates, Epicurus & Seneca. The philosophies of these guys are thousands of years old but still so relevant and applicable to life today. I was throughly enjoying how the author was telling you a little bit about the life and times of these guys and how their philosophies can give people of today consolations for their problems. Then we moved into wealthy whiny man's territory. Seriously I skimmed the whole second part of this ...more
Asmaa Nasser
May 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My book of the year.
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
As someone who has never seriously read any philosophy, I can say that this book really got me thinking about some things that I had never articulated before in my head. I really like the idea of making some of the great questions more accessible, because I feel intimidated by the idea of diving straight into classical philosophy. This book has given me a better understanding of what some of the most respected philosophers were onto and could use this information as a reference when reading othe ...more
Zhiyar Qadri
Oct 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved it! good company :
A practical simple extraction of consolations philosophy can give us for our every day life frustrations.
go for it if seeking an applicable and digestible philosophy.
Onaiza Khan
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm so in love with this book <3 ...more
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"rich people could be adnirable, but this depended on how their wealth had been acquired, just as poverty could not by itself reveal anything of the moral worth of an individual." ...more
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Obtained by accident, on a bookshelf of one of the most magical bookstores in Crofton Park (London), after a recomendation by random stranger. This book became one of my favourite ones.

The simplicity, the mindfulness, it has it all.

It will tell you stories about a few well known men, it will tell you the truth of their lives and their thoughts about it, it will try to introduce true meaning of struggle and beauty in our lives. It is a wonderful feeling to find something soo deep to agree with.

May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I could listen to de Botton explain that there is a Russia sized meteor hurtling toward our planet and leave the conversation feeling understood and comforted. Hearing him describe his understanding of some of the greatest Western philosophers and philosophies was really quite a treat. Anecdotes and insights abound in an exploration of both the greatest and consoling ideas, as well as the minds and bodies they came from. As always , de Botton is reasonable, convincing, almost spookily in touch w ...more
Sotiris Makrygiannis
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-book, internet
His style is good. Taking a virtue and explaining by bringing up the history around it, or around the first time that virtue was debated publicly. So is fast, straight to the point and with good stories. An atheist? hm....probably picked up stories that fit his philosophical school of thought.
Nyamka Ganni
I had no idea that I needed this kind of consolations.

Bit too short. Yet very impressive. I loved every part of it.

Highly recommended for everyone not just philosophical minds!
Mohit Kankariya
Nov 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
Sat on a cactus the other day. Taught me more about life than this pretentious book ever will.
Mehdi Khazaeian
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The best choice for one seeking for an abstract on philosophy.
Eva Forslund
probably could've given it two stars, mostly bc I was disappointed considering how much I love Alain de Botton. "he offered scope for valuable and yet until then neglected dimensions of Montaigne's character - which suggests that we pick our friends not only because they are kind and enjoyable company, but also, perhaps more importantly, because they understand us for who we think we are." (pp 147) well put about friendship.

"he became himself on the page as he had been himself in the company of
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book is engaging and the writing limpid enough, but it suffers from a few major weaknesses for which I dock 3 stars. First, it is larded with highly gratuitous drawings that, on more than one occasion, made me think that the book was intended for students age 10+. Second, it occasionally suffers from slippery/specious reasoning, generalizations, and redundancies. Lastly, and this is the most egregious oversight of all, it dispenses with rigorous analysis of the ideas of the philosophers men ...more
Jeffrey Howard
Aug 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Alain de Botton has become one of my favorite contemporary public intellectuals, reviving an approach to philosophy and art which has been derided by most high brow philosophers and scholars. He uses 6 important philosophical figures to make one major--and incredibly compelling--point; ideas matter only in as much as they help us to live well. He means this in the most concrete sense. If any adventure into the world of ideas, any assertion is made, which does not equip us with the tools to navig ...more
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Alain de Botton is a writer and television producer who lives in London and aims to make philosophy relevant to everyday life. He can be contacted by email directly via

He is a writer of essayistic books, which refer both to his own experiences and ideas- and those of artists, philosophers and thinkers. It's a style of writing that has been termed a 'philosophy of everyday li

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