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Thread: Pop Science, Philosophy etc

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    Default Pop Science, Philosophy etc

    Does it work as the gateway it's sometimes intended as or does it just leave people sated with a poor grasp of a given subject? Is Alain de Botton a charlatan?

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    Quote Originally Posted by version View Post
    Is Alain de Botton a charlatan?
    The shit he's flogging through his "School of Life" shop...



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    Inconsistencies in the pot’s form and finish are intentional. It is designed to help us in the tricky but necessary task of accepting and even learning to appreciate our imperfections – as well as the flaws of others. The imperfect pot provides a counter to our yearning for perfection, which can be relentless. The pot is something to turn to for support and inspiration when our unreasonably high expectations of ourselves and those around us threaten to get out of control.

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    I have a couple of the "How to..." books and tbh they're really good. They really pack a lot in a short space. But they feel like starting points, not the whole mile.

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    He turns every philosopher (or novelist, painter, etc.) into a lifestyle guru, which is toe-curling.
    Αι ψυχαί οσμώνται καθ΄ Άιδην.

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    "How Nietzsche can help us ask our boss for that raise."
    Αι ψυχαί οσμώνται καθ΄ Άιδην.

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    I should say, I am a bit of a sucker for pop psychology/science books, though.

    With science particularly I feel like I will never have a good grasp of what's actually going on. So give it to me simple so I'm at least somewhat aware.
    Αι ψυχαί οσμώνται καθ΄ Άιδην.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corpsey View Post
    He turns every philosopher (or novelist, painter, etc.) into a lifestyle guru, which is toe-curling.
    Yeah, repackaging this stuff as self-help and business strategies is tacky in the extreme. Guys on Wall St. with an unread copy of The Art of War in their desk.

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    Tbf nietzsche sort of is self help. Kpunk presented Spinoza as self help. Deleuze is self help it's not all disinterested exercises of pure abstract logic

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    True, but there's self-help and "self-help" and I'm referring to the latter. You could read Marcus Aurelius' Meditations or you could read some business guy's book of repetitive anecdotes and buzzwords called something like "Stiff Upper Lip: How to Triumph in the face of Adversity in Business and in Life".

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    I guess if it works, it works, but the trend seems to be that people just end up with stacks and stacks of self-help books they can't remember much of.

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    Yeah yeah course. I was being provocative. It's not self help per se. But it is often concerned with our lives how we should think them and live them. I've got no interest in or aptitude for logic puzzles so this is the only bit I'm interested in.

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    That Matthew Walker book on sleep was what triggered the thread. I was looking at all the Guardian quotes on the cover about how "life changing" it was, the Bill Gates endorsement on Goodreads etc and becoming increasingly apprehensive. A science book published by Penguin with a load of bland quotes from journalists and business-types.

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    Anyway as far as the question goes I'd far rather misunderstand and mangle a primary source than get a trite summary from a guide for idiots.

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    Some of these philosophers I think we're "supposed" to know about. We're supposed to know who Nietzsche was, for example, even if that boils down to "God is dead" and "Ubermensch".

    But the truth is 99% of us don't have the time or will to read either Nietzsche or the philosophers Nietzsche was battling against or influenced by. We're condemned to be dilettantes. Only a very small group of people have read and understood Nietzsche, and to do that they probably have had to read a lot of other philosophers, not least Hegel (I tried to read some Hegel once - never again).

    We desire, then, these cultural mediators. If it also then promises us that it's going to improve our daily lives then all the better. We can feel cleverer than the bozo reading a business book. We know who Nietzsche is.

    (As always I may be mainly projecting my own neuroses onto everyone else.)
    Αι ψυχαί οσμώνται καθ΄ Άιδην.

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    I definitely suffer from that snobbishness toward The Guardian - despite reading some of their reporting myself - that you were on about with Mark, although not to the point that I'd read The Times out of spite. I just see anything with a Guardian, New York Times etc endorsement and roll my eyes. It reminds me of my aunt who's always reading whatever's currently being billed as the book you have to read by them.

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