Alain de Botton, a Swiss born philosopher, author and presenter first came to my attention in the early oughts when I happened across his Consolations of Philosophy. I had at some time earlier read Boethius’ work of the same name, so my interest was piqued. de Botton’s work did not disappoint. I was immediately taken in by his ability to make complex ideas simple to understand. And he accomplishes this not by watering the ideas down, but by its inverse, a process of distillation. A rare trick indeed. It was this same ability to distill ideas into a super concentrate that led me to devour Tolstoy’s religious writings.
de Botton has resurfaced due to his newest work, Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion. Full disclosure, I haven’t yet read it. Unfortunately, life’s situation being what it is, I can’t spare the $17. Watching him interviewed on his latest work, it seems that he has become a much needed antidote to the fundamentalist atheism of Dawkins, Harris, etc. I find fundamentalism to be disquieting and off-setting, irregardless of whatever belief system being espoused. So it has been added to my reading list.
Learning that he had a new book out, I googled him to find what information was available. I discovered there is a wealth of both audio and video available for free on the web. I am writing this post to point out a few of the more interesting/enlightening pieces that I came across.
First a 20 minute Ted Talk on Atheism 2.0, then a list of links.
More Ted Talks are available here.
BBC has a dozen 10 minute audio clips.
An hour long video on fora.tv focusing on ideas from his book: The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work.
There is a 35 minute “sermon” on vimeo published by de Botton’s School of Life, this one On Religion for Atheists.
Try to get away from the latest Reality TV for even one evening per month (or better, one evening per week), there are worse choices than choosing to spend some of that time taking in the simple (yet profound) ideas that Alain de Botton has to offer.
Also a 6 part TV series based on Consolations of Philosophy. (The order is off…it should be Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer, and Nietzche.)