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Alain de Botton Talks about the Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

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Free Resource - December 2nd, 2010
Free Resource of the Day

Alain de Botton on the Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

Philosophical writer Alain de Botton discusses his latest work The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work. For writing the book he surveyed ten different jobs and came up with many interesting observations about working in today's society. For instance he found that much of the time at work people aren't actually working, but that they are still working long hours. He also found that highly specialized work forces often perform the best, but when it comes to the individual they tend to lack a sense of meaning. Watch Alain de Botton make many more of these observations on this streaming video from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation available on FORA.tv.

Alain de Botton on the Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

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This is a book about an almost universal anxiety that rarely gets mentioned directly: an anxiety about what others think of us, about whether we're judged a success or a failure, a winner or a loser. This is a book about status anxiety.

Alain de Botton, best-selling author of The Consolations of Philosophy and The Art of Travel, asks—with lucidity and charm—where our worries about status come from and what, if anything, we can do to surmount them. With the help of philosophers, artists and writers, he examines the origins of status anxiety (ranging from the consequences of the French Revolution to our secret dismay at the success of our friends) before revealing ingenious ways in which people have been able to overcome their worries in the search for happiness. We learn about sandal-less philosophers and topless bohemians, about the benefits of putting skulls on our sideboards, and about looking at ancient ruins.

The result is a book that isn't just highly entertaining and thought-provoking, but that is genuinely wise and helpful, too.

Available on MP3 Download.

Status Anxiety

University Press Audiobooks
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Up until now the university press has been one area of the book industry that typically hasn't made its way onto audio book. These academic, nonprofit publishing houses publish great scholarly titles and now we are excited to present a new publisher that is making these works available for the first time on audio download:

University Press Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks publishes titles from the Harvard University Press, Yale University Press, Princeton University Press, University of California Press, and many other presses of prestigious universities. We're starting with over 30 of their audio books authored by prominent scholars such as Edward O. Wilson, Harold Bloom, Robert Pinsky, and more. These initial works span a variety of academic disciplines from philosophy to science to politics just to name a few. Here are a few highlights in these disciplines:

Philosophy:

Truth and Truthfulness by Bernard Williams - What does it mean to be truthful? What role does truth play in our lives? What do we lose if we reject truthfulness? No philosopher is better suited to answer these questions than Bernard Williams.

Philosophy and Real Politics by Raymond Geuss - Many contemporary political thinkers are gripped by the belief that their task is to develop an ideal theory of rights or justice for guiding and judging political actions. But Raymond Geuss argues that philosophers should first try to understand why real political actors behave as they actually do.

The Secular Mind by Robert Coles - Best-selling author Robert Coles offers a profound meditation on how secular culture has settled into the hearts and minds of Americans. This book is a sweeping essay on the shift from religious control over Western society to the scientific dominance of the mind.

Science:

The Big Questions in Science and Religion by Keith Ward - Can religious beliefs survive in the scientific age? Are they resoundingly outdated? Or, is there something in them of great importance, even if the way they are expressed will have to change given new scientific context? Keith Ward, an Anglican priest who was once an atheist, offers compelling insights into the often contentious relationship between diverse religious views and new scientific knowledge.

On Human Nature by Edward O. Wilson - With characteristic pungency and simplicity of style, Edward O. Wilson challenges old prejudices and current misconceptions about the nature-nurture debate. His goal is nothing less than the completion of the Darwinian revolution by bringing biological thought into the center of the social sciences and the humanities.

Primates and Philosophers by Frans de Waal - "It's the animal in us," we often hear when we've been bad. But why not when we're good? Primatologist Frans de Waal tackles this question by exploring the biological foundations of one of humanity's most valued traits: morality.

Politics:

On Democracy by Robert A. Dahl - In this accessible and authoritative book, one of the most prominent political theorists of our time provides a primer on democracy that clarifies what it is, why it is valuable, how it works, and what challenges it confronts in the future.

Inventing the Job of President: Leadership Style from George Washington to Andrew Jackson by Fred I. Greenstein - Fred Greenstein examines the leadership styles of the earliest presidents, men who served at a time when it was by no means certain that the American experiment in free government would succeed.

The Myth of the Rational Voter by Bryan Caplan - The greatest obstacle to sound economic policy is not entrenched special interests or rampant lobbying, but the popular misconceptions, irrational beliefs, and personal biases held by ordinary voters. This is economist Bryan Caplan's sobering assessment in this provocative and eye-opening book.

And here are a few more titles that may be of interest:

Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry by Robert Pinsky

Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health by Marion Nestle

Ruin the Sacred Truths: Poetry and Belief from the Bible to the Present by Harold Bloom

And there are many other interesting titles all of which are worth looking at:

Browse Over 30 Titles from University Press Audiobooks

We look forwarding to adding many more titles from this great new publisher in the near future.

Philosophers in 90 Minutes

90-Minute Philosopher Series by Paul Strathern

The 90-Minute Philosopher Series is a series of audio books by Paul Strathern, each presenting a concise account of a philosopher's life and ideas, explaining his influence on man's struggle to understand his existence in the world. Each is a brief but authoritative interpretation of a great thinker. Each audio book last approximately ninety minutes and can be listened to again and again for reviewing a philosopher's main ideas. These audio books cover ancient philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato, and modern philosophers such as Descartes, Rousseau, and Kierkegaard. Download an audio book from the 90-Minute Philosopher Series today.

90-Minute Philosopher Series by Paul Strathern

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