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The problem with “The School of Life”

“The School of Life” is the brainchild Alain de Botton. De Botton completed his master’s degree in Philosophy at King’s College in London and gave up his Ph.D. research on French philosophy at Harvard to write books for the general public. 

“The School of Life” videos are well produced and Alain de Botton is really well spoken. The videos, although claim to be unbiased, present De Botton’s subjective opinions. The problem with it being people might take his heavily opinionated views as gospels to live by. If you dig further, he has a tendency to distort history to support his bad philosophy. 

If you look at his philosophy on love, marriage, relationships, religion, and capitalism. They’re just his opinions masquerading as philosophy and often contradicting with the original philosophers he cites. From Plato, Nietzsche to Kafka; De Botton manages to use them as a tool to put forth his agenda of “how to live” according to his worldview. 

The video below points out some flaws with “The School of Life”.

Paraphrasing a comment and its replies on the above video,  philosophy is inherently biased and opinionated but SOL intentionally misrepresents the contributions of the philosophers to fit their own narratives. 

We are in a day and age where we can confidently gauge things. We can build models based on data and evidence. We have advanced in the fields of economics, sociology, and psychology. And, the original philosophies themselves were based on some rational reasoning. To boil down those philosophies into rules to live by is doing the original philosophers a disservice. They were merely thought experiments of some great thinkers of their times. 

Knowledge in the hands of wrong men can be dangerous. A charismatic personality attracts sheep-like followers. And a half-truth can be presented as a fact as it sounds so convincing and truthful. We’ve seen it with Osho and many other cult leaders.

“If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.”  – Frank Zappa

4 thoughts on “The problem with “The School of Life””

  1. Nonetheless the so called “Doctrates” will be found explaining too much BS with too much profoundity. The OGs of the real world thinkers are likely to be forgotten in next few decades. There is philosophical war going on since centuries. Nietzsche on Kant as in Beyond Good and Evil leads to disclosure of realism while Nihilism is Nietzsche forte. But it depends on the person himself to adopt what suits him/her the best. Anyway philosophy does not feed your stomach but helps to clean your brain and tinker with mental abilities.
    Loved the blog by the way. Keep creating.

  2. Pingback: Trying to make sense of the bullshit - Abhishek Acharya

  3. There are a lot of individuals to whom his videos are of great help. Please don’t undermine people who are actually making a genuine effort to reach out to others with an intention to ease their suffering.

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