Now here’s an interesting one. Essays In Love, by the talented young philosopher Alain de Botton. Ever the one to expand my emotional and intellectual range (being only in my twenties, I feel perhaps there’s much to experience in life, so here’s a quick short cut to understanding), and it being some years since I last battled with a philosopher, I was drawn to de Botton’s simple “philosophy for everyday life” approach.
And what a delight it was. De Botton writes with a non-patronising, simple, humour-filled prose, so you never realise he’s holding your hand through some deeply insightful concepts. It’s written in the form of a novel, with numbered paragraphs that cover key points to take on board (much like in more dry philosophical writings). This is useful, as you’re walked through a fictitious relationship, but also through the feelings, the primitive urges, the contradictions of the human condition, the sufferings. I like the way he makes philosophy relevant, but is never talking down to the reader. You immediately feel at ease when he brings up Socrates and Kant. He’s educating you, forcing your mind to wonder about the delights and despairs of relationship from that first moment you see someone, to the sex, right the way through, pointing out most of the sensations we go through, deep analysis of our actions, and explanations about our possible motives.
A superb study of the mechanics of human relationships.