Indulge in some serious existential questioning, or find great guides to that philosophical theory you've always intended to get a grasp on.
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The Age of Genius
What happened to the European mind between 1605, when an audience watching Macbeth at the Globe might believe that regicide was such an aberration of the natural order that ghosts could burst from the ground, and 1649, when a large crowd, perhaps including some who had seen Macbeth forty-four years earlier, could stand and watch the execution of a king? Or consider the difference between a magus casting a star chart and the day in 1639, when Jonathan Horrock and William Crabtree watched the transit of Venus across the face of the sun from their attic, successfully testing its course against Kepler's Tables of Planetary Motion, in a classic case of confirming a scientific theory by empirical testing. The seventeenth century was a period of progress and discovery that witnessed ;the greatest ever change in the mental outlook of humanity'. The Age of Genius is an insightful examination of the struggles, turmoil and developments of the Enlightenment that were fundamental in creating the world we know today.
The Challenge of Things
A. C. Grayling's lucid and stimulating books, based on the idea that philosophy should engage with the world and make itself useful, are immensely popular. The Challenge of Things joins earlier collections like The Reason of Things and Thinking of Answers, but this time to collect Grayling's recent writings on the world in a time of war and conflict. In describing and exposing the dark side of things, he also explores ways out of the habits and prejudices of mind that would otherwise trap us forever in the deadly impasses of conflicts of all kinds. Whether he is writing about the First World War and its legacy, free speech, the advantages of an atheist prime minister or the role of science in the arts, his essays are always enlightening, enlivening and hopeful.
Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Acclaimed as one of the most exciting books in the history of American letters, this modern epic became an instant bestseller upon publication in 1974, transforming a generation and continuing to inspire millions. A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, the book becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions of how to live. Resonant with the confusions of existence, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a touching and transcendent book of life.
The Architecture of Happiness
The Architecture of Happiness is Alain de Botton's exploration of the hidden links between buildings and our well being. He asks: What makes a house truly beautiful? Why are many new houses so ugly? Why do we argue so bitterly about sofas and pictures - and can differences of taste ever be satisfactorily resolved? To answer these questions and many more, de Botton looks at buildings across the world, from medieval wooden huts to modern skyscrapers; he examines sofas and cathedrals, tea sets and office complexes, and teases out a host of often surprising philosophical insights. The Architecture of Happiness will take you on a beguiling tour through the history and psychology of architecture and interior design, and will change the way you look at your home.
In Status Anxiety, bestselling author Alain de Botton sets out to understand our universal fear of failure - and how we might change. We all worry about what others think of us. We all long to succeed and fear failure. We all suffer - to a greater or lesser degree, usually privately and with embarrassment - from status anxiety. For the first time, Alain de Botton gives a name to this universal condition and sets out to investigate both its origins and possible solutions. He looks at history, philosophy, economics, art and politics - and reveals the many ingenious ways that great minds have overcome their worries. The result is a book that is not only entertaining and thought-provoking - but genuinely wise and helpful as well.
Art as Therapy
Alain de Botton and John Armstrong propose a new way of looking at art, suggesting that it can be useful, relevant and above all else, therapeutic for its audiences. They begin by laying out a method for looking at art therapeutically, then demonstrate it in action on key themes of existence, like Love, Nature, Money and Politics. They argue that in each area, certain great works of art have clues as to how to manage the tensions and confusions of life.
Johannes Vermeer's 'Girl Reading a Letter' helps us to focus on what we want to be loved for; Richard Serra's 'Fernando Passoa' reminds us of the importance of dignity in suffering; the colonnades of the monastery at Le Thoronet hold a promise of a serenity that too often escapes us; and Edouard Manet's' Bunch of Asparagus' teaches us how to preserve and value our long-term partners. Passionate, thought provoking, often funny and always accessible, this book reframes art as a therapeutic medium that can guide, console and exhort us, and along the way, help us to understand both art and ourselves better.
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