Monday, January 30, 2012

Alain de Botton's new book

 The Guardian talks to Alain de Botton about his new book, Religion for Atheists (which will have to go on my reading list).


Can't society get to where De Botton wants it to go without plundering religion? He argues not: "Politicians want people to be nice neighbours but the tools at their disposal are just the tools of modern liberal society, which are nothing." What about the Tories' notion of a big society? "They're sitting in the cockpit and they haven't got the buttons."

Religions, he thinks, have the buttons and know how to use them. ..His strong point is that religion never lost faith in using culture to improve vulnerable, childlike souls. It understands, he contends, human frailties and how to work on them better than godless polities. He's at his most bracing when he proposes wholesale educational reform, suggesting that universities' humanities departments should be overhauled to do what John Stuart Mill and Matthew Arnold hoped for them, namely to instil wisdom.

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