The New York Times bestselling author of The Geography of Bliss embarks on a rollicking intellectual journey, following in the footsteps of history’s greatest thinkers and showing us how each—from Epicurus to Gandhi, Thoreau to Beauvoir—offers practical and spiritual lessons for today’s unsettled times.
We turn to philosophy for the same reasons we travel: to see the world from a different perspective, to unearth hidden beauty, and to find new ways of being. We want to learn how to embrace wonder. Face regrets. Sustain hope.
Eric Weiner combines his twin passions for philosophy and travel in a globe-trotting pilgrimage that uncovers surprising life lessons from great thinkers around the world, from Rousseau to Nietzsche, Confucius to Simone Weil. Traveling by train (the most thoughtful mode of transport), he journeys thousands of miles, making stops in Athens, Delhi, Wyoming, Coney Island, Frankfurt, and points in between to reconnect with philosophy’s original purpose: teaching us how to lead wiser, more meaningful lives. From Socrates and ancient Athens to Beauvoir and 20th-century Paris, Weiner’s chosen philosophers and places provide important practical and spiritual lessons as we navigate today’s chaotic times.
In a “delightful” odyssey that “will take you places intellectually and humorously” (San Francisco Book Review), Weiner invites us to voyage alongside him on his life-changing pursuit of wisdom and discovery as he attempts to find answers to our most vital questions. The Socrates Express is “full of valuable lessons…a fun, sharp book that draws readers in with its apparent simplicity and bubble-gum philosophy approach and gradually pulls them in deeper and deeper” (NPR).
Journalist Weiner (The Geography of Bliss) makes a convincing and winningly presented case for the practical applications of philosophy to everyday existence in the 21st century. With humor and thoughtfulness, he distills the wisdom of thinkers from throughout history from Confucius, to Socrates, to Rousseau, to Gandhi, to de Beauvoir into ways to slow down, ask questions, and pay attention. In his cogent exploration of "How to Listen like Schopenhauer," he relates the German philosopher's idea of the dark force of an insatiable "Will" in all living things to the addictive appeal of the internet, and recognizes that today, especially, "we confuse data with information, information with knowledge, and knowledge with wisdom." Meanwhile, in Epicurus, Weiner finds a guide to achieving pleasure in the age of online retail, where "so many tantalizing options lie only a click away," but, as Epicurus himself advised, "not what we have, but what we enjoy constitutes our abundance." Weiner travels physically as well as intellectually around the world, exploring the slower, more reflective transportation methods of traveling by train and walking. His book offers an appealing way to cope with the din of modern life and look at the world with attentive eyes and ears.
An Enjoyable Must Read
Whether you see it as a historical review of the essence of great philosophers/thinkers, an awakening of a perception of life by a skilled writer, a fun read read for pleasure purely (“Epicurean” in fact” or a wonderful aid to self awareness as one ages (and I am, at 72), Weiner’s The Socrates Express is a must read. Thank you Eric.