53 Philosophical Quotes of Alain de Botton

” The thing is that love gives us a ringside seat on somebody else’s flaws, so of course you’re gonna spot some things that kinda need to be mentioned. But often the romantic view is to say, ‘If you loved me, you wouldn’t criticise me.’ Actually, true love is often about trying to teach someone how to be the best version of themselves. “
” There’s a constant tension between the excitement of new people and security with one person. If you go with excitement, you create chaos; you hurt people. There’s jealousy, and it gets very messy. If you have security, it can be boring, and you die inside because of all the opportunities missed. “
” Laughter is an important part of a good relationship. It’s an immense achievement when you can move from your thinking that your partner is merely an idiot to thinking that they are that wonderfully complex thing called a loveable idiot. And often that means having a little bit of a sense of humour about their flaws. “
” A city like London is sociable in a sense that there are people gathering in bars and restaurants, concerts and lectures. Yet you can partake of all these experiences and never say hello to anyone new. And one of the things that all religions do is take groups of strangers into a space and say it is OK to talk to each other. “
” Therapy and counseling can do wonderful things for people. But they have emerged so far as what are sometimes called ‘cottage industries’ – that is, as individuals or small groups offering generally quite expensive services to a few clients. “
” It’s very hard to respect people on holiday – everybody looks so silly at the beach, it makes you hate humanity – but when you see people at their work they elicit respect, whether it’s a mechanic, a stonemason or an accountant. “
” The romantic person instinctively sees marriage in terms of emotions, but what a couple actually gets up to together over a lifetime has much more in common with the workings of a small business. They must draw up work rosters, clean, chauffeur, cook, fix, throw away, mind, hire, fire, reconcile, and budget. “
” Most of the time, we make discoveries about how difficult people are at the moment when the difficulties have actually hurt us; therefore, we are not likely to be forgiving or sympathetic. “
” I’m fascinated by Comte’s clear-eyed analysis of what was wrong with modern society, which is that you’ve got industrial capitalism on one side and romantic love on the other. Those, along with non-instrumental art, are supposed to get you through the day? “
” It’s great to get an ‘F’, but you also want to give the sense that there’s something outside achievement. I’ve seen a lot of so-called high-achievers who don’t feel they’ve achieved much. “
” It’s great to get an ‘F’, but you also want to give the sense that there’s something outside achievement. I’ve seen a lot of so-called high-achievers who don’t feel they’ve achieved much. “
” Learning to give up on perfection may be just about the most romantic move any of us could make. “
” Emotional life is – alongside work – one of the great challenges of existence and is a theme that I keep returning to. “
” I passionately believe that’s it’s not just what you say that counts, it’s also how you say it – that the success of your argument critically depends on your manner of presenting it. “
” The humanities have been forced to disguise, both from themselves and their students, why their subjects really matter, for the sake of attracting money and prestige in a world obsessed by the achievements of science. “
” There’s something called religion, and it was invented a long time ago by people who felt very out of control with their lives, who didn’t know… why the sun always rose over the mountains. “
” The solution as consumers is – perhaps surprisingly – to take adverts very, very seriously. We should ask ourselves what it is that we find lovely in them – the visions of friendship, togetherness, repose, or whatever. And then consider what would actually help us find these qualities in our lives. “
” Sweetness is the opposite of machismo, which is everywhere – and I really don’t get on with machismo. I’m interested in sensitivity and weakness and fear and anxiety because I think that, at the end of the day, behind our masks, that’s what we are. “
” Social media has lots of benefits, but compared to Christianity, it tends to group people by interests. Religion puts you with people who have nothing in common except that you’re human. “
” We don’t sulk with everybody. We limit our sulks to a very particular person: the person who’s supposed to love us and understand us. And we make this equation that if you love me, you’re supposed to understand me even if I don’t explain what’s wrong. “
” We must study love the way we study anything else that matters. “
” I learnt to stop fantasising about the perfect job or the perfect relationship because that can actually be an excuse for not living. “
” Compatibility is an achievement of love; it shouldn’t be its precondition. “
” We may seek a fortune for no greater reason than to secure the respect and attention of people who would otherwise look straight through us. “
” 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. “
” Fantasies can be great, but we shouldn’t make the wedding a fantasy, because the wedding is the gateway to married life. It shouldn’t be a moment of illusion; it should be a moment of preparation. “
” I like working with people. I believe change can only come through collaboration. “
” I think a certain degree of pessimism is actually helpful to love. “
” The arrogance that says analysing the relationship between reasons and causes is more important than writing a philosophy of shyness or sadness or friendship drives me nuts. I can’t accept that. “
” The problem with airports is that we go there when we need to catch a plane – and because it’s so difficult to find the way to the gate, we tend not to look around at our surroundings. “
” Used to do a lot of falling in love with people, almost in the street, and imagining that there would be no obstacle to a happy love story other than finding the ‘right person’. “
” Parents become very good at not hearing the explicit words and listening instead to what the child means but doesn’t yet know how to say: ‘I’m lonely, in pain, frightened’ – distress which then unfairly comes out as an attack on the safest, kindest, most reliable thing in the child’s world: the parent. “
” My dad was a slightly stricter version of Richard Dawkins. The worldview was that there are idiots out there who believe in Santa Claus and fairies and magic and elves, and we’re not joining that nonsense. “
” We are certainly influenced by role models, and if we are surrounded by images of beautiful rich people, we will start to think that to be beautiful and rich is very important – just as in the Middle Ages, people were surrounded by images of religious piety. “
” Work is a way of bringing order to chaos, and there’s a basic satisfaction in seeing that we are able to make something a little more coherent by the end of the day. “
” In the early days of love sometimes, you will report an ecstatic feeling you have met someone who seems to understand you without you needing to speak. “
” I see religion as a storehouse of lots of really good ideas that a secular world should look at, raid, and learn from. “
” The philosophy I love is very selective. It is really just the bit that is involved in a search for wisdom, and this means a short roll call of names; Socrates, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epicurus, Montaigne, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche. “
” I waste most of the day, then finally start to write around 3 P.M., totally disgusted with myself for my wasteful nature. “
” Advertising is – quite often – alive to our real needs. It’s just the products on offer might not be the things that will help us satisfy them. “
” Pick up any newspaper or magazine, open the TV, and you’ll be bombarded with suggestions of how to have a successful life. Some of these suggestions are deeply unhelpful to our own projects and priorities – and we should take care. “
” We are properly ready for marriage when we are strong enough to embrace a life of frustration. “
” Many people in the intellectual elite are very scared of shouting. They insist on very quiet murmurs. “
” I was foreign and Jewish, with a funny name, and was very small and hated sport, a real problem at an English prep school. So the way to get round it was to become the school joker, which I did quite effectively – I was always fooling around to make the people who would otherwise dump me in the loo laugh. “
” What we typically call love is only the start of love. Our understanding of love has been hijacked and beguiled by its first distractingly moving moments. “
” I’m not an academic philosopher, and don’t agree with the way the universities approach the subject. I’m a philosopher only in the very loose sense of someone interested in wisdom and well-being attained through reason. But I’m as interested in psychoanalysis and art as I am in philosophy. “
” The idea that one might use art for ‘instrumental’ reasons tends to set off alarm bells at the heart of the cultural elite, who contend that it’s not a pill, that it shouldn’t be asked to perform some specific function, especially something as egocentric as to ‘cheer you up’ or to ‘make you a more empathetic person.’ “
” Everyone’s more vulnerable than they seem, and I think men are more vulnerable. Once you get close to a man, the whole thing’s a facade anyway. I think manhood is fragile. “
” There’s a certain kind of insular, old-fashioned, upper-class Britishness that gives me the spooks. I am sure that comes from a boarding-school trauma. “
” I assemble my ideas in pieces on a computer file, then gradually find a place for them on a piece of scaffolding I erect. “
” When a restaurant is too popular, it starts to harm the reason you are there. “
” The central task for a business is to make a profit. The challenge is to make a profit by doing things which are genuinely good for people and good for societies. “
” The claims I’m making for art are simply the claims that we naturally make around music or around poetry. We’re much more relaxed around those art forms. We’re willing to ask, ‘How could this find a place in my heart?’ “