Day: September 2, 2011

Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder

Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder


I read this book when I took a philosophy class as an elective course back in college. Actually, I did not finish the book during that semester for some reason. I suppose it was thesis time. Anyway, I resumed my reading of it a few months after graduation.

I think this should be made a required reading in Philosophy 101 classes because it pretty much covers a lot of philosophies. I don’t know about most people, but I find philosophy an interesting subject of classroom conversation. So yes, I enjoyed my philosophy classes back in college.

In addition, this book makes philosophy less taxing. It makes the study of philosophy a bit easier than it normally is. It’s like Philosophy for Dummies, with some entertainment.

So what’s entertaining about it?

The Rhapsody

This is philosophy and fiction rolled into one. The philosophy part comes in the guise of letters sent to a girl named Sophie. Surprise! Philosophy, by the way, means love of wisdom. Anyway, the letters that she receives are philosophy lectures from a mysterious man named Albert. He is mysterious in the sense that he knows Sophie’s attempts to uncover his identity, like some omnipresent force watching her moves.

The letters are supposed to be gifts from Sophie’s father. Wisdom is a gift, as Sophie will realize along the way. The lectures begin with an introduction to philosophy, its history, and its various schools. Notable philosophers are also introduced every chapter or so.

As I mentioned, the philosophical musings in this book are not a burden because of the fiction part. It’s like a young adult mystery, if you ask me, with a little surprise in the end. I won’t spoil that for you. I have been a notorious spoiler, but this time, I wouldn’t do it.

There’s no point in spoiling because in the first place, I couldn’t remember the fiction part. Not that it’s not entertaining; I’m just more engrossed with the philosophy part. I remember Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, et al, but not the turn of events. That’s the good thing about this book. Even if the plot is forgotten, the philosophical lessons remain.

Which I think is the whole point. It’s important for people to try to understand their existence. Simple questions like who am I, what is life, what is my purpose, and others, are also the ones that are hardest to answer. The answers are not offered in the book. One has to provide his own answers to such, and a little help with philosophizing might just give us a nifty solution.

I think we are all philosophers because there’s a need for us to be wise. We cannot be wise overnight, however, but some overthinking every once in a while may just prove to be helpful in some of the more testing moments of our lives.

4 star - really liked itFinal Notes

Thanks to this book, I discovered the philosophies of Soren Kierkegaard. He said that the only important truths are subjective truths, which is a principle that I have held on to even before I read this book. My reading of this book only strengthened my grasp on the only truth that I hold above all truths, if any.

Kierkegaard is an individualist, which is, I think, another way of saying that he is an existentialist. I never claimed to be one because it sounds a little pretentious. I am cynical, so I know the workings of other cynics. Anyway, Kierkegaard’s philosophies are largely existentialist in nature.

I think this is a nice book to reread because the philosophy part is fun in itself. Call me a big nerd, but I can’t help it. I think a lot of people have negative thoughts when they hear of Karl Marx, but his philosophies, as presented in the book, makes a lot of sense. Finishing the book could help one to lay out his own set of philosophies.

So yes. Everyone, I recommend this to you.