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Culture

Alain de Botton — A School of Life for Atheists

On the latest On Being podcast with Krista Tippett, philosopher and best-selling author Alain de Botton talks about his new book Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion.

Alain de Botton is an atheist, but his perspective on religion is far more complicated.

Instead of debunking religion in thinking that all pious people are idiots — as some atheists may presume — he shines a light on some of the things where religion excels: in values, wisdom, communions, and “the wonders of religious architecture.” As he says nearly eight minutes in:

“These religions at their highest points, at their most complex and subtle moments, are far too interesting to be abandoned merely to those who believe in them.”

Alain de Botton

His book is therefore not for atheists alone, but for the believers who may find Botton’s perspective reconfirming. Above all, Botton proposes toleration, not necessarily that we agree with each other but we “make space for the stranger” who holds different views and accepts them as is. ‘Developing emotion intelligence’ is at the heart of Botton’s own academy, The School of Life.

Categories
Creativity Productivity & Work Writing

Everything starts on paper 

Whether you are using post-it notes or loose leaf, paper is ideal for getting down thoughts and mapping out ideas quickly.

Everything starts on paper.

Whether you are using post-it notes or loose leaf, paper is ideal for getting down thoughts and mapping out ideas quickly. In fact, some Google employees prohibit phones and use paper exclusively to brainstorm. The magic of writing in analog is a controlled speed, flexibility, and focus.

“Everyone can write words, draw boxes, and express his or her ideas with the same clarity.”

If computers are a bicycle for the mind, as Steve Jobs once proclaimed, then writing on paper is like taking a walk. Paper jogs the mind, it is slow yet methodical, allowing it to connect the dots between disparate things.

“As with music, so with thought: when you want clarity, you seek out paper. Paper is the slow food of thought.”

As much as technology facilitates creativity, it can also distract it. Various studies show that taking notes by hand helps students remember more. Physical books, like vinyl, are also still hanging around despite the popularity of e-readers. Meanwhile, handwritten letters are considered more meaningful because of the perceived effort it went into writing and mailing them.

Digital abundance drives up the value of scarce objects like paper. Paper is proving its longevity not just as a nostalgic medium but also because it benefits the process of thinking and planning.

“As long as everyone is thinking and writing stuff on paper, you’re on the golden path.”

Read The Google Guys Use Paper