Tag «SOL»

HISTORY OF IDEAS – French & English Gardens

HISTORY OF IDEAS – French & English Gardens

There have been two central traditions in European gardening. Each one associated with a great European nation. The first originated in 17th century France, and became known as the “Jardin à la française” or “formal French garden”. The most sublime example of this school of gardening is to be found in the chateau of Vaux-le-Vicomte …

HISTORY OF IDEAS – Romanticism

HISTORY OF IDEAS – Romanticism

Romanticism is one of the most important historical events of all time. Unlike a lot of what gets called history, romanticism isn’t a war or a piece of technology or a political event. It refers to the birth of a new set of ideas. It is about a mindset and a way of feeling. Romanticism …

SOCIOLOGY – Alexis De Tocqueville

SOCIOLOGY – Alexis De Tocqueville

Democracy was achieved by such a long arduous and heroic struggle that it can feel embarrassing even shameful to be pretty Disappointed by it Perhaps the best guy to such feelings and to Modern democracy in general is a 19th century French aristocrat [Alexis] De [Tocqueville] Photo Tocqueville Democracy was a highly exotic and new …

PLATO ON: The Allegory of the Cave

PLATO ON: The Allegory of the Cave

The ancient Greeks were emphatic that philosophy was not just an elaborate abstract exercise. It was, they felt, a deeply useful skill that should be learned and practiced by all, in order to help us to live and die well. No one believed this more than Plato. Who was passionate in his defense of philosophy …

PHILOSOPHY – La Rochefoucauld

PHILOSOPHY – La Rochefoucauld

There’s a belief that philosophy, when properly done, should sound dense, forbidding, a little confusing, as if it might have been awkwardly translated from the German. But at the dawn of the Modern age, lived a French philosopher who trusted in a very different way of presenting his thoughts; a man who wrote a very …

PHILOSOPHY – René Descartes

PHILOSOPHY – René Descartes

René Descartes was a French 17th century philosopher, famous above all for saying ‘I think therefore I am’, but worthy of our attention for many reasons beyond this. What makes him stand out is that he was a fierce rationalist. In an age when many philosophers still backed up their arguments with appeals to God, …

PHILOSOPHY – Nietzsche

PHILOSOPHY – Nietzsche

The challenge begins with how to pronounce his name. The first bit should sound like ‘Knee’, the second like ‘cha’ Knee – cha. Then we need to get past some of his extraordinary and provocative statements: ‘What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger’ ‘God is dead! And we have killed him.’ And his large moustache. …

HISTORY OF IDEAS – Ancient Greece

HISTORY OF IDEAS – Ancient Greece

The modern world is deeply attracted to ancient Greece. Every year around one million people visit the Parthenon and wander around the ruins. Because they’re sure the place and the culture of which its supreme embodiment has something important to say to them. But it’s often not quite clear what. What can ancient Greece do …

LITERATURE – Marcel Proust

LITERATURE – Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust was an early 20th century French writer responsible for what’s officially the longest novel in the world: “A la recherche du temps perdu”/In search of Lost Time. which has 1.2 million words in it, double those in “War and Peace” . The book was published in French in 7 volumes over 14 years, …

LITERATURE – Ralph Waldo Emerson

LITERATURE – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson is the father of American literature. In a series of strikingly original essays, written in the mid-nineteenth century, he fundamentally changed the way that America saw its cultural and artistic possibilities, and he enabled a separation from transatlantic literary traditions. “We have listened too long…”, he wrote, “…to the Courtly muses of …