Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sophie's World

I've always had a bit of an interest in philosophy and have done some studying along those lines, so it's no surprise that I was intrigued by Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. The basic premise is a quick overview of philosophy as it would be conveyed to a young girl. The obvious result is easy to understand examples to go along with each philosopher.

The easiest problem for such a set up is making the dialogue read much like a textbook, which it does. The dialogue has brief interruptions for what I suppose are intended to be witty comments by the main character. However, the comments are neither insightful nor very humorous and are typically completely ignored by the teacher. My guess is these comments were written only after all the actual meat of the teaching was written with the intention of providing a place for the reader to breathe.

If this was the whole book, I would have put it down before finishing, but half way through the book takes a more agreeable turn. The philosophy Sophie, the main character, learns is finally put to some practical application. While the application was at the least a stretch, it gave me some incentive to read on. I don't suppose I can't say much about how without completely ruining the premise of the second half of the book.

Toward the end it began to seem as though the author found himself to be incredibly clever, when in fact he was just scraping by as far as I was concerned. Perhaps I'm reading too much between the lines, especially considering the book's intention, but I can't help but be a bit put off. I think the author does a good job at conveying philosophy in a more interesting way, but I don't feel it met my own expectations. The author had an even greater opportunity to capitalize on a good premise. The book is worth a read for anyone interested in a brief overview of philosophy without going through several sources.

Also, I'd just like to say how incredibly surprised I am that I haven't taken the time to update this in so long. I've been reading, but I just haven't gotten around to taking the time to update here. I plan to change that soon.


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