Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sophie's World

He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth
- Goethe
Just finished reading this book which was a bestseller in the 90s. It asks two questions at the outset (questions are always almost dangerous than answers)

Who are you?
Where does this world come from?

Then the book launches into a panoramic tour of philosophical ideas ranging from the earliest stoics to that of Jean Paul Sartre. Its 3000 years of developments summarized in a single novel of 500 pages. At the end you cannot expect a simple answer to the questions but it shows how each generation must answer those questions on their own time and on their own terms.

I began to read this work with some skepticism as I strongly believed in the quote by A N Whitehead

All of Western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato

The book partly confirmed this notion and partly opened my eyes that it isnt wholly true much in the vein of Hegel's system.

A key aspect of the book is to question the lack of women philosophers as well as tackling the question of "are men and women equal?" . You'll be astounded by some philosophers' view on women as well (particularly Aristotle and Hegel)

To put it in creative terms the book takes you on wings of love to a world of ideas. Once you wake up from the book you'll nonetheless be richer than when you started.

Such busy, teeming throngs I long to see,
Standing on freedom's soil, a people free.
Then to the moment could I say:
Linger you now, you are so fair!
Now records of my earthly day
No flight of aeons can impair--
Foreknowledge comes, and fills me with such bliss,
I take my joy, my highest moment this.

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