Nietzsche, Wittgenstein and Plato Could Be Your Teachers in the School of Life
This knowledge-dissemination project spearheaded by Alain de Botton makes philosophy attractive for millions of Internet users.
In recent years and in large part thanks to the Internet’s capacity for disseminating information, various initiatives have emerged to bring the wider public to the field of knowledge, and whose access to such was restricted to specific spaces such as universities and libraries. Thanks to the worldwide web it is now possible to, for example, study a literature course while you ride public transport or choose other classes from prestigious academies.
However, in another sense, this trend has also led to an interesting change in the way such content is presented and offered to the public, who are in the difficult position of being reader and consumer. Although it is true that, on the one hand, a person can choose the content on the web that they are interested in and have time for, on the other hand this choice takes place within a field of cruel rivalry in which millions of brands, platforms, proposals and more elements compete for our attention. In this context, is it possible that a person would prefer to click on “instructive” content instead of the viral video of the day?
This is part of what Alain de Botton is betting on with his The School of Life project. De Botton, of Swiss origin, is one of the most noteworthy promoters of philosophy of our time and has even garnered the nickname of “pop philosopher” as he constantly seeks ways to bring the subject to people’s everyday lives.
In the case of The School of Life, the heart of the initiative are short videos produced for social networks, and which therefore imply at least two essential requisites: brevity and attractiveness. What needs to be said must be said promptly and clearly. And although it may seem unbelievable, this is possible with philosophy.
The videos are succinct but substantial presentations of the ways of thinking of philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, Epicurus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ludwig Wittgenstein and various others, all of whom were decisive in the development of the discipline. But not only that. In addition to their ingenious production of minimal elements, the ideas of these thinkers are expressed via a narrative that seeks to make them simple and accessible by a closer approach and familiarity, finding a point at which notions such “eudaimonia” and “doxa” or “private language” connect with our daily life, with our day-to-day relationships, and with the decisions we can take on a daily basis. Here’s Plato:
It is, in summary, a project that will not disappoint and is worth dedicating time and attention to, and we will no doubt be more whole as people after watching the videos.
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