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THE SUNDAY TIMES TOP TEN BESTSELLERFrom One Of Our Greatest Voices In Modern Philosophy, Author Of The Course Of Love, The Consolations Of Philosophy, Religion For Atheists AndThe School Of Life Alain De Botton Sets Out To Understand Our Universal Fear Of Failure And How We Might Change It De Botton S Gift Is To Prompt Us To Think About How We Live And How We Might Change Things The Times He Analyses Modern Society With Great Charm, Learning And Humour His Remedies Come As A Welcome Relief When Most Books Offering Solutions To The Stresses Of Life Recommend The Lotus Position Daily Mail 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 AnxietyAlain 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 . Status Anxiety by Alain De Botton is a sparkly book that, for the most part, I enjoyed immensely However, like other readers, I have some problems with it First, a gentle reminder to everyone who approaches a philosophical book like this one all this rationalizing of reality can be helpful sometimes, but it is often overestimated, especially by academics Even though it should be obvious, people tend to forget that reality stays exactly the same, with or without philosophical analysis The immense respect that our society gives to the rich and officially successful doesn t change an inch After philosophizing, you tend to feel like you have set the world straight, you have changed it for the better, or at least you feel like you can change it However, philosophy achieves littlethan providing perspective, or what could be in other words described as shooting the shit The book can be summarized as follows we are all anxious about our sense of status in the world Today s problem is our egalitarianism We no longer believe that people who are worse off are unfortunates , as that was the old term for them Instead, they are now losers It is their fault So we fear failurethan ever, because it is our fault This is the flip side of meritocracy, which we consider a good thing, but which is really a tyranny of expectations Also, we envy everybody who does better, at least in our eyes De Botton sets out five causes of status anxiety lovelessness, snobbery, expectation, meritocracy, dependence and provides what he believes are five cures for the ailment philosophy, art, politics, religion and bohemia.From the start, this set up my hopes quite high, because other books on sociological topics i.e Zygmunt Bauman s books on consumerism do not do anythingthan analyzing a problem, which leads everybody sane to the ultimate question So the heck what At least, I said to myself, De Botton made the effort to offer some solutions to the problem he presented Yeah, well while that is true, I will explain why his solutions are really not satisfactory, and why this is overall a rationalistic and therefore unrewarding kind of book But first, I will complete the positive part of my review some reviewers arrogantly blame the author for being pop , for lowering the fine abstractions of philosophy to the level of corny self help manuals They are wrong De Botton is a deep and erudite thinker, certainlythan capable of writing a brick heavy dissertation on any philosopher, but he also wants to reach out to many readers, who cares whether that is for a high concept of sharing wisdom with the masses, or for a desire to sell as many books as possible, or for both reasons It s actually quite hard I think for a philosopher to express himself in such straightforward terms as De Botton does Now, the problems I have with his presented solutions the book concludes by recommending that we simply spread our risks and take advantage of the vast variety of ways in which success and failure can be defined If we are depressed by our uselessness, then we should simply change our reference points I found this stance too weak, commonsensical and melancholic Get into saber fencing and you can be one of the best strikes me as a joyless and limited perspective But what I found annoying is the transparency of the author s personal preferences, hidden behind an appearance of total objectivity and utter absence of any opinion And this is a very typical problem with philosophy and in general with people who present purely rational ideas in sociology or psychology, they never are Let me explain De Botton chose an academic career path in a world ours where they will often tell you he who can, does he who can t, teaches Where, in fact, academic success is still relatively low in the broad economic pecking order, and it is considered nowhere near the highest graces of success in business, and, in particular, success in making tons of money in general So it s not such a wild guess to say that, as a very competitive individual, De Botton has probably always been bothered by rich businessmen, lawyers and bankers who often getrespect and love from society than philosophers and professors And if he hasn t, at least he does a lot in the book to build a huge damn case against these rich lawyers and bankers, they who achieved the success commonly recognized as success He keeps going at them Can he be totally objective about it Another problem in the chapter religion , he treats faith as just another way to cope with anxiety , absolutely interchangeable with philosophy or with politics or with being a Punk I guess De Botton likes too much his own atheist or non religious perspective, to be able to speak about religion with any type of real understanding He keeps referring to Christianity and Christian values without ever giving the slightest hint of whether he thinks it s all great or it is all a load of crap I find this type of fake detachment to be cowardly you are not talking about minerals and rocks or about a food recipe You chose to talk about the most important topics of human existence, of which you, Alain De Botton, are fully a part, therefore posing with such a detached attitude is equivalent to positioning yourself on a higher ground It comes across as arrogant and, at times, frustrating so what It gives the impression of a very cold scientist who is looking at his experiment or his study, not because he cares about any of the people involved in the study, but purely because he enjoys the study itself Where is his heart, in all this philosophical talk Where is the humanity, if not in the comfort of detachment Aside from his love for art and literature, no other sign of his soul transpires Nada And while this forcing the emotions out might be the very distinctive sign of the philosopher s profession , I find it useless and dehumanizing in a book like this, that s intended for the masses The chapter on religion is not even about religion It is about the concept of death In one sentence at the end of the section, De Botton gives an imprecise interpretation of the concept of God So is it fair to present it as a solution at all, when you have such a limited and biased perspective on it The chapter on Bohemians is the one where De Botton s objective detachment most clearly fails, because he LOVES this solution so much, that he cannot keep his cool any After a great eulogy of Henry Thoreau, he goes on to say that the delightful punks across all the Earth, the haters of the bourgeoisie, have actually understood the secret of life, found the Holy Grail, or something along those lines Then again, why Bohemians Why choose this peculiar definition to end a list of very general and wide categories, like philosophy, politics, religion I am confused It s like saying Here s the 4 things I m going to talk about sport, food, wheather, and cheerleaders choreography What about the hundreds of other similar movements, like Grunge, Punk, whatever else Why not vegetarianism , then, why leave that one out Anyway, in this chapter, he aptly and perhaps unconsciously offers the most valid proof of the fact that nobody is immune from our basic instinct of trying to climb on top of each other s heads like monkeys Why Because for De Botton the very best and highest man is, at the end of the day, the one who reads and thinks and loves art and writes all the time Yep And, oh guess what De Botton does all day long But I don t want to be unfair I truly enjoyed the book, very much At times, De Botton s deep passion for history, literature and art jumps at you in such a genuine form, that is so inspiring and almost moving His love for quoting famous works of the past and the present, the clear delight he takes in doing that, the way he chooses really interesting pearls , anecdots and quotes, is not something I see much as a trick, but rather as a sign of his deep true love for these things Like the love of a dedicated collector Therein lies, in my opinion, the real beauty of this book And this is ultimately why I would recommend it and why I liked reading it Finally, I have to say that I listened to the audiobook I think the reader is a very good one I heard his voice before, in some books about Pacific Ocean travel but he should have toned down his own sense of humor, because at times he gives a sense of arrogant sarcasm to De Botton s voice that does not make it sound good at all, and you are left wondering if it was really intended to sound like that. . this book claims to be absent any original ideas It cites long and I mean long standing philosophical precepts, draws on well worn wisdom and largely repeats what has already been said.what s remarkable then is that it does so in such a clear and erudite manner that nearly every part of it and it follows the whole would makes sense fundamentally.it offers no cure for status anxiety as there isn t one but it does give great insight into its roots, and some of the ways people have managed it over time.a very good read. I loved this book However, if you re going to read it, be ready to analyze your life, question your ambition and search for ways in which you can better treat your fellow humans.I love comparitive philosophy I especially love it when it s well researched and well written Alain s style is conversational and informative but he doesn t come of sounding academic and esoteric You learn from his research that our modern day obsession with stuff isn t a modern convention I loved this book and recommend it to anyone who questions our post modern world Don t read it though if you re going through a major life shiftit will just add to the confusion and make you think that the throwing it life all away to join the peace corp is a viable option. . .. 1509 02 2019 .
www.alaindebotton.comHe 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 life His first book, Essays in Love titled On Love in the US , minutely analysed the process of falling in and out of love The style of the book was unusual, because it mixed elements of a novel together with reflections and analyses normally found in a piece of non fiction It s a book of which many readers are still fondest.Bibliography Essays In Love 1993 The Romantic Movement 1994 Kiss and Tell 1995 How Proust Can Change Your Life 1997 The Consolations of Philosophy 2000 The Art of Travel 2002 Status Anxiety 2004 The Architecture of Happiness 2006 The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work 2009
- 314 pages
- Status Anxiety
- Alain de Botton
- 08 September 2019 Alain de Botton