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  • Jostein Gardener

Sophie's world review

Sophie's World is a novel by Jostein Garrdener which is based on a philosophy course. It's the bridge between a fiction and non fiction since the 'philosophical course' is inside the novel, so it’s a great way to inform yourself of the history of philosophy.

Since a huge interest of mine is philosophy, I really wanted to get more of an overview of the history of ideas of philosophy, and this is exactly what the book provides. It also has a very unexpected twist which I thought was really clever! I thought the ending became a little obscure, but also was really interesting in terms of questioning the style of the novel. Overall, I would thoroughly recommend to anyone wanting more of an overview on philosophers and their main ideas, through a more reachable and accessible (and interesting!) way. Here are the main things I found really interesting in the book:

Existence of the world :

Idea of the world changing constantly/ never changing

  • Earth wind fire and water are the 4 basic elements that do not change

Things change in their consistency of these but these things don’t change.

Philosophers were right saying that 'nothing changes' AND that 'everything does.'

Aristotle: empricist: “there is nothing in the mind than what was first in the Sences”

Soul / spiritual = breath or breathing

Descartes doubted everything _ “how can u be certain that your whole life is not a dream?” - only thing he is certain of is that he can think: “I tjink, therefore I am

  • Thought (conscious) and extension are separate- extended reality eg matter takes up space ect but thoughts do not = they r independent from reality : as long as mind is in body it interacts with it

  • Mind doesn’t age- physical matter does ( our body)

Descartes: All have idea if perfect entity - couldn’ have originated from us (imperfect) so must have come from perfect entity itself = god

Existence is a perfection

Spinoza : everything is one reality : god is in nature = nature is in god

Thought and extension are what humans recognise - these are gods attributes - 2 ways god manifests itself

We live through the laws of nature (god) eg lion being a predator - we don’t have free will because we are strained by the laws of nature (eg death) but we can decide things within these :

Everything is one/ related: expression of god


-opposed Hume that we cannot be sure of the laws of nature

  • Kant believed we should use both empiricism and rationalism:

- we can not know what the material world will contain without observing it through our senses , but we can use our knowledge to know that it will happen within time and space, and that it will follow the natural law of causation: which is inbuilt within us

  • Sensory perception and reason are the two things that participate to how we see the world: we can only be certain of how we see the world not actually how it is

Kant: law of causation is universal - if we are material we have no free will

  • But we are rational beings: have reason: only when we use are reason to make a moral decision do we have free will

NeoPlatonism - Plotinus

  • Believed 'one' or 'God' was the fire at on end , and the other end was darkness

  • Darkness is nothing - just the absence of light

  • E.g earth/matter

  • The light of the 'one' shines on all the world - the forms are the closest thing to it

  • The sparks are our spirits

  • We all have 'the one' or 'the divine' or God therefore within us

  • All of nature has part of God/the divine in

  • =

Mysticism: mystic experiences is merging with the 'one' and feeling that you are part of the divine


Sinicm: no outer experience can control happiness, only you

Soicism: natural law - nothing happens accidentally

Epecureans: pleasure is good

  • Take into account the consequences of pleasure - i.e. Eating too much chocolate and then feeling sick

  • Do not worry about death: 'here pleasure is the highest good'

  • Agreed with the belief of Democritus that soul atoms - no life after death - believed soul atoms disperse: "death does not concern us. Because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist'

Satre: importance of individuality

  • There is no 'purpose in life' - we create our purpose in life

Thi is just a small overview of some things I learnt! It's a really great novel for learning so much but also an enjoyable read. I would definitely recommend!

stars: 4/5

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