A Little History of Philosophy - Nigel Warburton

Useful both as a guide for the curious and as a refreshing summary for the well-versed, A Little History of Philosophy (Yale Univ., $25) is a passionate and energetic recounting of  the story of Western thought. Nigel Warburton, senior lecturer at The Open University and the interviewer on the Philosophy Bites podcast, follows philosophy from the ancients to the atomic age, charting ideas as they weave through science, religion, music, and law. Especially adept at tracing influence, Warburton points out places where Eastern thought enters the Western picture. Humorous and relaxed, Warburton recounts his stories of thinkers and thoughts with the manner of a favorite teacher, feet up on the desk, conversing with students. At its heart, however, this is a book about skepticism, and it challenges readers to know where they stand, and why.

A Little History of Philosophy (Little Histories) By Nigel Warburton Cover Image
ISBN: 9780300187793
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Published: Yale University Press - October 30th, 2012

How to Live: Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer - Sarah Bakewell

Sarah Bakewell borrows Montaigne’s own personable, anecdotal approach for her sparkling treatise on the master essayist’s life and work. HOW TO LIVE (Other Press, $25) is the matter under investigation and Bakewell, author of two previous biographies and former curator of early printed books at the Wellcome Library, examines it from 20 different perspectives (or 21, given the nearly 60 illustrations), each one integral to Montaigne’s thought and experience. Starting with how to survive the death of a loved one, Montaigne determined that “death is only a few bad moments at the end of life,” and set about the greater challenge of living.  Combining elements from the Stoics, Epicureans, and Skeptics, Montaigne developed a free-ranging philosophy based not on abstractions and ideals but on daily life and fallible humanity. Always curious, open to any and all perspectives, affable, and eager for conversation, Montaigne in his essays conveys to the reader “the feeling of meeting a real person across the centuries”; Bakewell, in this vivid profile, does the same.

How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer By Sarah Bakewell Cover Image
ISBN: 9781590514832
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Published: Other Press - September 20th, 2011

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work - Alain De Botton

It isn’t often that you find literature offering an extended treatment of work. Which is odd, because work is where most of us spend the (at times disheartening) preponderance of our energy and time each day, each year. Perhaps books neglect labor because we turn to literature for the very purpose of “’forgetting” our daily toil? Be alienated no longer! With The Pleasures And Sorrows Of Work (Vintage, $15.95), Alain de Botton (The Architecture of Happiness, How Proust Can Change Your Life) reports on ten distinct occupations and industries. It is a “hymn to the modern workplace,” evoked in rich, wry detail with anthropological care, all the while seeking to answer the question, “when does a job feel meaningful?”

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work (Vintage International) By Alain De Botton Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307277251
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Published: Vintage - June 1st, 2010