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Gentler philosophers

Self-help shouldn't have such a bad reputation. Even thinkers such as Nietzsche and Hobbes aimed to improve the human lot

By John Banville   September 2013

Life Lessons from Nietzsche/Freud/Bergson/Byron/Kierkegaard/Hobbes by various authors (Macmillan, £6.99 each)

It is a sweet pleasure to sneer at self-help books and those who feel in need of them. What sad creatures they must be, we tell ourselves, as we picture them at home poring over the latest paperback solution to all life’s problems. Yet, as a moment’s reflection will show, every time we read a halfway serious book we are, whether we acknowledge it or not, helping ourselves to the fruits of the author’s hard work, his thoughts and…

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