Alain de Botton has always been one of my favourite philosophers. He is very articulate and clear speaking – I love listening to him and looking at him. Here he talks about subjective success and how meritocracy is a dangerous notion, as that framework of thought can undermine our sense of self. Everything we do is valuable, when we execute it to the best of our given abilities and derive pleasure from it.
I had the privilege to meet him when he came to speak at the RSA, twice. He is lovely and friendly man. In the first lecture, he talked about what atheists can learn from organised religion. One point that stood out for me was the concept of repetition and reinforcement, as humans easily forget to make time for meaningful activities. The second one was how news (mass media news) affects us and can distort our sense of proportion over various areas of reality. He had also just launched an interesting blog called the Philosophers’ Mail, which gives an interesting, humorous philosophical perspective on current affairs and pop culture – like a Daily Mail for the thinking person.
My only comment about his outputs is that they are lovely and interesting to read, but sometimes I feel that it is not quite finished, or the conclusion is not as meaty as the proposition. The irony being, I recall him saying that the news delivers the drama, but not quite what to do with it. What is missing from the news, is a sense of ‘what’s next?’ and ‘what can we learn from this?’, or simply, a resolution to our heightened senses as a result of coming into contact with such news.
Either way, thank you Alain for making philosophy more accessible and interesting for all.