Learn to ride a bicycle with Einstein, have your first kiss with Kant, get your first job with Adam Smith, and weather midlife with Dante. Let history’s greatest minds illuminate life’s turning points.
In Breakfast with Socrates, Robert Rowland Smith brought the power of philosophy down to earth by proving, in a very engaging and entertaining way, that human moments meet big ideas on a regular basis. Now Smith offers the natural offspring of that book, expanding the “day in a life” concept to life as a whole in Driving with Plato.
Start with being born. For some, like Sartre, you get off to a bad start: You didn’t ask to be born, and there’s little point to it anyway, as life is meaningless. And yet for Martin Heidegger, if you hadn’t been born, you’d have no sense of your own being, and that would be a tragic loss. How about midlife crisis? When Dante wrote The Divine Comedy, he deliberately set his story of spiritual transformation at the halfway point of his life. Nietzsche, too, in his autobiography, spoke of burying his forty-fifth year as he went on to yet higher forms of actualization as a self-styled superman. Drawing on the great philosophers, as well as on literature, art, politics, and psychology, Smith creates the richest possible range of ideas for readers to contemplate, all in a warm, humorous voice that revels both in life’s absurdities and in the pure delight of discovery.
Grounding abstract ideas in concrete experience, Driving with Plato helps us think more deeply about the key events in our lives even as it provides a philosophical education that everyone can appreciate and enjoy.
Rowland Smith (Breakfast with Socrates) attempts, as in his previous book, to demonstrate the relevance of philosophy to our everyday lives and our humblest and profoundest moments starting school, having children, retiring. He shows us what Sartre can tell us about birth, Althusser and Rousseau on education, Derrida on cheating on exams, Isaiah Berlin on passing a driving test. By dint of a remarkably smooth and inviting style, the author generally overcomes the contrived nature of the book's structure and does offer genuinely novel ways of thinking, not only about our everyday life but also about philosophy. A remarkably varied and eclectic introduction to the great philosophers and a defense of their continuing relevance to our everyday lives.