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Breakfast with Socrates: An Extraordinary (Philosophical) Journey Through Your Ordinary Day
Robert Rowland Smith


9781439148679
Retail Price: $18.95
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Format: Hardcover, 256pp.
ISBN: 9781439148679
Publisher: Free Press
Pub. Date: March 9, 2010

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

Have breakfast with Socrates, go to work with Nietzsche, head to the gym with Foucault, then have sex with Ovid (or Simone de Beauvoir).

Former Oxford Philosophy Fellow Robert Rowland Smith whisks you through an ordinary day with history's most extraordinary thinkers, explaining what they might have to say about your routine. From waking up in the morning through traveling to work, shopping, eating, going to a party, falling asleep, and dreaming, Smith connects our most mundane habits to the wider world of ideas.

Start with waking up: What does it really mean to be awake? How do we know we're not still dreaming? Descartes argues that if you're able to doubt whether you're awake, you are at least thinking, and so you probably exist -- no small achievement for first thing in the morning. Or take going to the gym: As you toil on the treadmill, is your panting a sign of virtue or of vice, of healthy exertion or of unhealthy narcissism? Working out is a version of what Max Weber called the Protestant work ethic -- a kind of spiritual exercise, it also leads to worldly vanity.

With dry wit and marvelous invention, Smith draws on philosophy, literature, art, politics, and psychology to wake us up to a stunning range of ideas about how to live. Neither breakfast, lunch, nor dinner will ever be the same again.



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Modeled on the pop philosopher Alain de Botton's trademark blend of everyday observation and intellectual sophistication, this lively jaunt through the course of a day treats readers to such disquisitions as Thomas Hobbes on rush-hour traffic, Jacques Lacan on shopping, and Friedrich Nietzsche on work. Journalist Rowland Smith does a fair job of concisely explaining big ideas, and he offers a surprisingly colorful cast of thinkers from Carl Schmitt to Michel Foucault. He's at his best teasing out the little idiosyncrasies of modern experience, where simply washing your face in the morning betrays a remarkable optimism for the day ahead and fighting with your partner once in a while might actually be a good idea. While occasionally skirting into shallow discussions of some philosophers, the author maintains the central conceit of describing a typical day with admirable resourcefulness. This charming book wears its erudition with ease and suggests that despite what Socrates says, it is in fact the unexamined day that is not worth living. (Mar.)
—Publishers Weekly, Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.



 

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About the Author

Robert Rowland Smith spent the first part of his career as a Prize Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and the second as a partner in a leading firm of management consultants.He has written for The Independent, been profiled in The Sunday Telegraph Magazine, contributed to books on philosophy for children, and broadcast for BBC Radio. Robert now divides his time between consulting, writing, and giving talks about the philosophy of life. He lives in London with his wife and has three daughters.



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