Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Philosophy Lite

Marietta McCarty's How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas that Matter Most is all right, but not what I was hoping to read. I only took one philosophy class in college and have done a little reading on my own, so I wanted to read something not overly scholarly but not too poppy and self-helpy, either. Turns out I wanted something more scholarly than this book.

Her ten ideas that matter most are broad: simplicity, communication, perspective, flexibility, empathy, individuality, belonging, serenity, possibility, and joy. She attaches two philosophers to each idea and briefly explains their views relating to it.

Both Library Journal and Publishers Weekly gave the book decent reviews. It is structured best for a "philosophy club," at the author's suggestion, and LJ notes: "Her concept of philosophy clubs is particularly appealing and practical for public libraries and neighborhood groups." But I didn't find it to be enough for the individual who doesn't need a bunch of discussion questions and suggested music and literature to accompany the ideas. I wanted the ideas to be more fleshed out in place of that supplementary material. McCarty merely skims the surface.


  1. Philosophy lite, indeed. Helpful review (lets readers know what they're getting). I'd be interested to know what you come up with next to pursue your interest in philosophy (and how you go about finding such a book at the right level).

  2. Those topics do sound very broad. I am interested whether she made links between them aside from that they are ten ideas that matter most for philosophy. It would make sense to have linked them to lead readers on a path to strengthen their individual philosophies. Does she tie them together in the introduction, or explain how one idea leads to the next?