Spring is the season of renewal and rebirth, the perfect time for the publication of Tom Butler-Bowdon’s new book 50 Philosophy Classics: Thinking, Being, Acting, Seeing; and the re-release of the previous five books in his 50 Classics series (Self-Help, Success, Spiritual, Psychology and Prosperity).
I’ve written about Butler-Bowdon a number of times, both in this blog and earlier in USA TODAY, most recently when I blogged about his 2012 book, Never Too Late to Be Great. I find his writing to be endlessly inspirational, useful and practical; and I reread sections in short bursts on nearly a daily basis. His ability to get the gist of a book and clearly and concisely communicate it is truly formidable.
50 Philosophy Classics follows the winning format of the earlier Classics books; concise (usually around six pages) chapters on each selected book giving the main points, context, some quotations and a basic bio of each author. The introduction clearly explains his rationale for the new book, and along with a brief glossary, there is also a list of 50 additional classics. Basing his writing on particular books, rather than having to write a chapter each explaining the entire work of, for instance, Plato or Aristotle, makes this more manageable and compact.
Given its place in the series, it is fitting that the book aims to demonstrate how these classics of philosophy can help guide us to leading a smarter, more fulfilling life. I’ll delve more into some of the specifics in my next post, but it’s worth noting the wide time range covered, from the 5th century BC Analects of Confucius, to contemporary authors, including some that may not always be identified as philosophers, such as Daniel Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow) and Nassim Nicholas Taleb (The Black Swan). I’ll return to 50 Philosophy Classics in my next post, but in the meantime, it’s worth quoting Butler-Bowdon’s description that “philosophy is high-level thinking to establish what is true or real, given the limits of human thought and senses, and the implication of this for how we act.”