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Alain de Botton

Alain de Botton Quotes

Quotes by and about Alain de Botton

(Continued from his main entry on the site.)

De Botton: "We're often told that we live in very materialistic times, that we're all greedy people. I don't think we are particularly materialistic. I think we live in a society which has simply pegged certain emotional rewards to the acquisition of material goods. It's not the material goods we want; it's the rewards we want. It's a new way of looking at luxury goods. The next time you see somebody driving a Ferrari, don't think, 'This is somebody who's greedy.' Think, 'This is somebody who is incredibly vulnerable and in need of love.'"

De Botton: "I do suffer a lot when I haven't given myself enough time to think. I now realize that writer's block is just the unconscious failing to process material fast enough and asking for more time."

De Botton: "I have grown impatient with just being a writer. I like working with people. I believe change can only come through collaboration."

De Botton: "I feel that the great challenge of our time is the communication of ideas. The world isn't short of good ideas, but what we're lacking is for these ideas to be effective in a public realm otherwise dominated by third-rate commercial nonsense. How do you get wisdom to shout a little louder? Many people in the intellectual elite are very scared of shouting. They insist on very quiet murmurs. This is touching, but also deeply dangerous - for if the only ones who shout are the crazies and the propagandists, society suffers."

De Botton: "I'm the opposite of an academic who comes at knowledge from a desire to find out exactly what Plato thought. My view is: OK, let's find out what Plato thought because he might make a difference to me, to you, he might tell us something that is of use."

De Botton: "I am a great believer in therapy and think everyone should be able to have it, as naturally as one goes to school. The problem in the UK is that therapists are badly regulated and they present themselves to the world in an often creepy and unreliable way. If they could be properly arranged, they could make a huge impact on the world, but there are many bad therapists who bring the whole field into disrepute."

De Botton: "I think of myself as quite a shy person. But when I'm curious about something I'll go quite far to satisfy my curiosity."

De Botton: "After a few bottles of wine ... people start to go, 'It is all shit and my marriage is terrible and I hate my job, I can't bear my parents...' or whatever it is, and suddenly there is a feeling that friendships can be forged out of that darkness."

Mark Matousek: "In 2008, de Botton helped to found an educational establishment in London called The School of Life, 'devoted to developing emotional intelligence through the help of culture' by offering courses on the important questions of everyday life, including 'how to find fulfilling work, how to master the art of relationships, how to understand one's past, how to achieve calm and how better to understand and, where necessary change, the world.'"

The Guardian: "On the one hand he is friendly, charming and polite; on the other, there is something almost repellent about his politeness. In his autobiographical Essays in Love, he quotes his girlfriend saying that he 'used politeness as an aggressive defense' and I know what she meant. His response to any critical remark is 'Interesting', as if you have made a good debating point. Armed with his Cambridge double first, backed by a phalanx of trusty philosophers - Plato, Seneca, Montaigne, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer - ready to rush to his aid with a supportive quote, it is incredibly difficult to get past his cool defenses."

The Guardian: "Although de Botton seems very confident now - he turns 40 this year - he says any confidence is recently gained. As a child, he was too shy to look anyone in the eye. As a teenager, he was 'quite puppyishly keen to make friends and never quite understanding why that didn't happen. I was an incredibly lonely, very alienated, teenager.'"

The Independent: "Over the years De Botton has repeatedly referred to his preference for the company of women: a tendency which seems likely to have been encouraged by his relationship with a dominant father. 'I have a problem with many men,' he told the writer Patrick Pittman. ... 'I prefer women. I'm not so keen on certain kinds of male culture.'"

The Independent: "He is one of those rare writers driven by a determination to improve the world."