28 July 2009

Alain de Botton: A kinder, gentler philosophy of success

Here is another of these TED lectures, this time from a secular philosopher called Alain de Botton. In it he talks rapidly about success and failure and different approaches to it. What interested me was how he had to draw on theistic themes to drive home his points, namely:
1) We shouldn't judge other people too harshly. (8 min 27 sec)
De Botton quotes Augustine's The City of God, talking about folly of judging people and how we should leave that up to God.
2) We have lost any sense of transcendence. (11 min 23 sec)
De Botton says "The other thing about modern society and why it causes us anxiety, is that we have nothing at its centre that is non-human." He goes on to say that we need something beyond ourselves to worship.

De Botton is a secularist (he says so in his talk) but it is astonishing how theistic his secular philosophising is. Now clearly this is a million miles away from being even a theist, or more to the point, a Christian - but I just thought it was worthy of note. Along the way he mentions Tragic art, snobbery and a whole host of other stuff.

De Botton seems like and interesting guy and has his own personal website. He is an author of numerous books on an eclectic mix of topics (reaching polymathic proportions). One of his projects is The School of Life, which "...is a new social enterprise offering good ideas for everyday living." It is refreshing to find people willing to engage in thinking deeply about life.

07 July 2009


Here's another one of those TED talks. This guy does some crazy calculations in his head. I wish I could impress my students with this kind of skill.

02 July 2009


Yesterday I spent the day at a maths teachers conference at the University of Birmingham. There were two lectures on applications of maths. These were basically trying to get us to encourage our students to study maths (at Birmingham) by showing us the cutting edge of maths. All very interesting (there was some fascinating stuff) but there was nothing I could really use in the classroom.

The best bit of the day was experimenting with a free piece of software called Geogebra This session was a basic introduction to this software which from a mathematical point of view is AMAZING. I will probably blog more about this in the future but here are some of the sketches I have made. I have used Geogebra quite a lot so found this session a bit basic - but it was great to pick up a few new tips.