Self-Help is Not Just for Dummies
My heaven, nirvana, would be if the questions that are raised by Oprah Winfrey would be answered by the faculty of Harvard University.
Alain de Botton was born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1969 and now lives in London. He is a writer of essayistic books that have been described as a 'philosophy of everyday life.' He’s written on love, travel, architecture and literature. His books have been bestsellers in 30 countries. Alain also started and helps to run a school in London called The School of Life, dedicated to a new vision of education. Alain's latest book is titled Religion for Atheists and is published in the Netherlands, Italy, Korea, Turkey and Brazil in 2011 and in the UK, US and other territories in 2012.
Alain started writing at a young age. His first book, Essays in Love [titled On Love in the US], was published when he was twenty-three.
I’m struck by how in our modern culture, the self-help movement is for stupid people. That’s what elite culture teaches us. Elite culture teaches us, if you are a bit dumb, you will need guidance and then you’ll head for a self-help book. I really protest against that idea that guidance is for people who are stupid. Guidance is for everyone. We’re all in need of it. What’s wrong is that, in our society, we’ve got this terrible division between clever people and people who offer guidance. And clever people are not interested in guidance and the people who do offer guidance often their thinking is not that complex.
My heaven, nirvana, would be if the questions that are raised by Oprah Winfrey would be answered by the faculty of Harvard University, a union of the best minds with the most practical questions. I’ve tried to have a go at this with a little institution that I and some friends founded in London a couple of years ago called the School of Life. It’s deliberately trying to say that life is a business that we need to be schooled in. The main challenges, ranging from relationships to work to illness to death, these are things that we need help on.
We’re not just going to know how to work that, and culture, the storehouse of creativity of the last 2,000 years of philosophy and art and architecture, the humanities. There’s an awful lot of wisdom there and you want to access that wisdom for the practical needs of ordinary people. So it’s a little institution with huge ambitions.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
Image courtesy fo Shutterstock
Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
We know the dangers of too little sleep. Now for the other side of the story.
- Western University researchers found that sleeping over eight hours per night results in cognitive decline.
- Oversleepers suffer similar difficulties on certain cognitive tests as those who sleep under seven hours.
- Not all the news is bad: One night of oversleeping results in a cognitive boost.
Firefighters in California are still struggling to contain several wildfires nearly one week after they broke out.
- Hundreds of people are still missing after three wildfires spread across Northern and Southern California last week.
- 48 of the 50 deaths occurred after the Camp Fire blazed through the town of Paradise, north of Sacramento.
- On Tuesday night, a fourth wildfire broke out, though it's mostly contained.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.