Sunday, 14 May 2017

It All Starts With This One Question

I’ve mentioned before of being a member of the faculty at The School of Life (TSOL).

Not to pitch it to you, but I believe they’re providing a decent service that more and more of us can benefit from, so I’ll tell you a little about it. 

It was set up by the philosopher, Alain de Botton (that bald, clever chap who seems to have more time in a day than the rest of us… That wasn’t an attack on the baldies, Alain. I’m going bald, too…).

The sole intention behind TSOL, if you don’t already know, is to promote emotional intelligence and wellbeing, by providing classes on a variety of topics, such as How to Stay Calm, How to Face Death and How to Fill the God-Shaped Hole (I currently run the former two).

Each class allows a maximum 26 people to attend. It’s an ideal number that allows you to mingle with like-minded people and possibly forge new friendships. The classes are set up so that the participants get involved in discussions and activities; questions are asked and answers are questioned. 

This is philosophy after all. 

Each class runs for about 2 and half hours, with breaks in between. As Jim Rohn said, “The brain can only absorb what the seat can endure.”

He meant ass.

And breaks can be needed, too, for some of the classes aren’t exactly light. On the contrary, some are heavy, such as the How to Face Death class for obvious reasons. Even the How to Stay Calm class goes into unpleasant examples of survival stories, as to demonstrate how we can learn from the survivors.

TSOL also have their own selection of books you can buy - and they’re decent, too. I’ve read four of them so far.

Those being:

The “Life Lessons” collection is a great way to get to know the people you may have heard so much about, but have never dared to dive into their work for fear of not understanding it. At least that’s why I never read their work. Kiergaard’s philosophy, for example, is not easy to read at all, but these small books are written to explain things in an accessible way, so even the most complex philosophical theories can be understood.

Talking of making philosophy easy and interesting, I’m reading Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder at the moment. I’m loving it. I can't believe I've never read it before. It’s a history of philosophy, infused with the story of a fifteen-year old girl, who finds a letter addressed to her, and on it are the words, “Who are you?”

Asking ourselves that very question is exactly how we become philosophers of our own life.