Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sophie's World?

Seeing as we have a readership which includes some pretty well-read and philosophically astute people... Has anyone out there read Sophie's World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy.

The idea of a history of Western philosophy in the form of a young adult novel strikes me as kind of fun, and having the characters eventually come to fear they are trapped within a novel seems reminiscent of Island of the Day Before.

Is it any good?

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

After the author's anti-Semitic tirade this past summer, mocking the concept of a "chosen race, a royal priesthood", I would find it hard to read Sophie's World in quite the same way as before.

bearing said...

Yes, I've read Sophie's World. It was a long time ago, but I thought it was pretty good. I don't know if it counts as "good" in a literary sense, but it's readable, and constructed in a nifty, original way.

melanie b said...

I also read it a long time ago, when I was in high school. But I recall it being quite enjoyable, a good read.

And I think artists whose personal lives are a shambles and whose politics I disagree with can still produce good art. A work of art should be evaluated on its own merits, not based on the failings of the artist. Just my 2 cents.

Father Martin Fox said...

I think I read it. (Make of that what you will.)

Amber said...

I've read it twice, once in high school and once in college. I thought it was really interesting and worthwhile then, but I have no idea if it is a book that would stand the test of time. I suspect that it is a book that would be more meaningful and interesting (especially since it unfolds in such a novel fashion, which in retrospect I wonder if it might be a bit too precocious) to someone in that age range. I still have it on the shelf though, and I plan on reading it again at some point - most likely shortly before Emma gets interested in picking it up.

Rebecca said...

I started this one and never finished. It never really grabbed my attention enough to get me through the dry philosophy parts.

Scott Carson said...

I read that book back when it first came out and really liked the part about ancient Greek philosophy. It was accurate, as far as it went, and it was mildly interesting. Like Rebecca, however, I never finished the book, because it get progressively less engaging as it went along, and the plot was never all that clear to me. But it's a charming idea, I think--as a teacher of philosophy I do think that something is needed to get high school students to study this stuff, if only to whet their appetite for what's available to them in college.

Brandon said...

The book is based on a nifty idea, has a great beginning, and until about halfway or so through it it's qlargely enjoyable, if you are looking for a light read that touches (very lightly) on profound thought; but, as Scott Carson already noted, it gets less engaging as one goes through it. It has a lot of promise, but never fulfills it all.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Sophie's World is really two books in one: a philosophy book which attempts to summarise all Western thought of the past 3,000 years for young readers, and a surreal mystery novel. I much prefer it as a mystery novel than as a guide to philosophy, though it has turned out to be a handy reference for me.

Jostein Gaarder is a very liberal thinker--and it shows in his organisation of ideas. Enlightenment thinkers have whole chapters devoted to their philosophies, while St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas have to share chapters with their contemporaries. (Pardon me if this is inaccurate. It has been a while since I dusted off my copy.) The point is that the book is more accurately called Gaarder's World.

However, as comprehensive as the philosophy lesson is, that doesn't mean that he is the best teacher to be giving it. I really wish that someone like Dietrich Von Hildebrand or Alice Von Hildebrand had written this book instead. (Yes, I realise that I have just set up a glass castle for all and sundry to throw stones at. Go ahead.)