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Quick fire questions for Alain de Botton.

2 min read

Why is philosophy becoming more widespread in today’s culture?

I’m sure it has to do with the decline in organised religion, which previously had a monopoly on the big answers. Nowadays, people are looking elsewhere and philosophy retains an aura that it might be the place to go and look. This isn’t always deserved, but there are some philosophies that surely do shed important light on the more troublesome themes of life.

Are there links between philosophy and the arts in your opinion?

Philosophers have long speculated on why we make art and what constitutes a great work of art. My own sense is that art is a tool which can help audiences with a variety of situations in life, from a poor memory, to a desire to rebalance their characters or find solace in the understanding of others. 

Can businesses help the arts?

Businesses need to understand their customers’ desire, their true wants: this is a very helpful starting point and therefore, the arts should be alive to some of the best lessons of the commercial world.

Is self actualisation possible for more than 1% of people with regards to Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of needs’.

I would put it at more than 1%, far more than that number enjoy their work, but it is still probably shy of half the working population, a huge tragic waste of talent and energy.

Is it possible for everyone to enjoy their work?

Not according to the current arrangement of society. It would take a revolution. As Marx suggested… 

What last morsel of philosophy would you recommend to people?

I am drawn to the philosopher Seneca. ‘What need is there to weep over parts of life? he asks, ‘The whole of it calls for tears.’

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