Emotional Education in the 21st Century Alain de Botton CDI 20132

thank you so much I want to say something a little bit dangerous a dangerous idea there is no shortage of good ideas in this world we have good ideas to last us another 300 years the thing we can't do is make good ideas powerful in the world and the world will only change when the lovely ideas that we have become powerful all of us in this room believe in kindness in trust in compassion in generosity in beauty these are things that all nice people all over the world agree on and yet these are things that the modern world is not very good at implementing why not because we are too focused on the idea and not focused enough on the implementation the world is too full of geniuses alone in their bedrooms they sit in their bedrooms they have wonderful ideas and maybe maybe they write a book and they hope to change the world through a book I have bad news for anyone here me included who's written a book the world does not change through books a book cannot on its own change anything the only way in which change comes is when people group together and start institutions we are unfortunately in love with the idea of the lone genius who comes down from the mountain to tell us something we've never heard before and who will change the world this isn't actually a good model the model of the lone genius does not change the world I think that the number one institution which will show us the way and I am an atheist but I'm a different sort of atheist to the atheist you heard this morning the atheist you heard this morning was atheism 1.0 I'm atheism 2.0 ok now what is atheism 2.0 atheism 2.0 says of course God doesn't exist but now what what do we do with the fears the longings the anxieties all the things that drove us to religion they haven't peared simply because we've noticed some logical inconsistencies in the tale of the loaves and the fishes the doubts and the dilemmas and the fears carry on religion has been the most powerful institution that has spread ideas through the world and because I'm interested in ideas being powerful I want to look at how how religions educate us if we talk all the time about education there's only one machine in this world that has ever educated people really powerfully and that's religions I don't believe in the content of religions but I'm very interested in the mechanism now education is taken to be a very important thing everyone always talks politicians parents education will change us and save us it's a beautiful idea there's almost an idea there that religion is maybe no longer so powerful in the hearts of men and women and religion and education will take the place of it you know in Europe in the 19th century in the middle of the 19th century the number of people who believed in God went down very sharply and people said where are we going to get all the stuff that people used to get from religion the meaning the consolation the sense of right and wrong the sense of community where is this gonna come from in philosophy in history in literature in theatre in poetry there is everything there there is consolation there is meaning there is a sense of community it's all waiting for us in other words culture can replace Scripture that was the dream of the secularizing West in the nineteenth century and it's because of that dream that we're here today we are the heirs of that dream people who believe that culture coming here together this is a church is a church but without God and nevertheless something has gone badly wrong with this dream I believe if you went to any university any museum any institution of higher culture in the modern world and you said look I've come to study at Harvard or at Yale or the University of Oxford in Mexico City any great University and you said I've come to study culture and they said why and you say because I'm lost because I'm scared because I am mortal because I don't know how to run a relationship because I'm full of anguish they would look at their watch and go this person is really crazy please leave the office or I call the police in other words we are not allowed to bring the suffering heart to culture we are not if you went to a museum and you started crying in front of a Vlasic with or a kefir or a jasper johns or a Mark Rothko the guards would be getting you out you are not allowed to bring your deeper self why because elite culture has a view that life is basically quite simple all you need to do in life is separate yourself from your parents grow up maybe start a relationship with someone new find a job that you love watch the onset of mortality and your parents generation and then in your generation and then when time has come to die you put yourself in the coffin shut the lid and off you go to the next 12 to nothing there is no next world remember and and there you go isn't that easy no it's not of course it's not easy there's a lot of anguish and suffering and where do we take that well the standard answer is you must be a bit stupid if you find life difficult and if you're stupid and American then you should go and read self-help books cuz self-help books will tell you how to live and how to be happy and how to die and all this but those are for stupid people so what do intelligent people do well they have no real problem they don't need a problem they don't need a solution to this well I don't know about you you're all very intelligent you don't read self-help books but do you need help yes of course you do we all do outside of religion we need help secular culture the way it's currently arranged is not enough the way we're teaching things the way we teach art and culture is not enough we're not doing it properly there are two reasons really why we live and where we invest our hopes in there are two things we really live for the first one is love and the second one is work right those are the two modern dreams we want a good relationship and we want a flourishing working life now for most of human history people no expectations of love and work does anyone in there in this room love the person they're married to anyone love the person they're married to a lot of hands this is really weird right if you if you scrolled back 300 years and you said you must love the person you are married to have children maybe get on just about love no nowadays we want love we want sex we want companionship with the people we love and in work we want not just money but we want fulfillment we want to be ourselves we want to be creative oh it's very very hard the dreams of love and work how many of you get a little bit sad on a Sunday evening I get sad on a Sunday evening Sunday evening is a time for sadness because the day begins the next week and you're thinking how these projects going love and work is often a problem with me is always a problem in either one or the other why we are alone with our problems we do not have a structure to give guidance and this is a huge problem in the modern world there are great answers in books but the answer is sitting on the library shelves so my recommendation is really a new system of education but one of the things it would teach is emotional intelligence and well-being it sounds so strange it sounds so odd it sounds wishy-washy but what I mean is we need to raise people who understand themselves who know what to do with our anxieties who know how to run a relationship these this these are parts of the arts of living we have given up on the idea that education should be part of the art of living it absolutely should be how would education change well at the moment we have this very weird idea in education but if you tell someone a good idea just once when they're about 20 it'll stay in their mind forever you will never need to do anything else they're just you know you fill up somebody with a jug of intelligence and then it just stays with them now religions let's look at how religions educate people religions are obsessed with the idea that we forget everything you tell someone something in the morning and by lunchtime they've forgotten it and by evening they need another reminder and that's why all religions tell us to repeat things all the time you must be good you must be good you must be because if you just hear it once it goes dead in your mind so repetition and religions give us calendars so that everyday will be given over to a certain idea we are very forgetful our minds are full of brilliant ideas but unless someone says oh think about that idea today we will forget think of how lovely spring time is right we all love the spring don't we we love seeing flowers for the first time we love seeing the new seasons this is a very normal customary thing now in culture there are lots of poems and songs and lots of lovely things about spring but the problem is most of us don't really pay much attention to these when the time is there if you are Jewish once a year there is something called the festival of beer cat hill a hot where a rabbi takes you and makes you say a prayer in a field looking at new flowers on a new blossom on the trees in other words it doesn't leave your inner life to just you the community is part of your inner life religions understood this we have privatized the inner life and that's why there are full of things that we love to do and that we like to think about but that we don't give any time to in a structured way in a busy world this is a major failing of the modern world it's connected a little bit to art now art in the modern world is a really confusing area it to be a serious person is to love art but what is art for this is often the question we ask ourselves when we're in the gallery we're looking down the museum staff to think what was that strange installation are that piece of video art we can't really understand it now I look back to religions what do religions use art for its propaganda okay what's it propaganda for its propaganda for the beliefs of the religion okay now I think that's a really good idea so you look in front of it you look at a Rembrandt and he's giving you a piece of propaganda on behalf of courage or virtue or feminine modesty or something and it is essentially a giant program of advertising what are what are advertising what is advertising sell us now chocolate bars sandals radios things don't need right the most important things are not systematically addressed through any artistic process and this is a desperate weakness of modern society when you walk around when you see posters and things they are constantly drawing your attention to things which you don't actually need so artists working for religions knew they had a very simple message make your religion great fix the religion in the mind of the believer we don't have a new secular religion but we have lots of very good ideas about how we should live we should be kind we should be compassionate we should be just we should be slow to anger you I could go on and on there are lots of things we believe in all of us as a society but we forget them when the time comes we forget them and the reason part of the reason why we forget them is because there is nothing to systematically remind us in the way that art was used by religions so let's get the artists working in the in the name of psychology our own psychology in the same way as for hundreds of years artists work in the name of theology there's another area we need to look at which is the media the media is the teacher okay we have in most countries in in Mexico and in the UK there is someone who looks after the media in the government and someone who looks after education right and it's a different person this is crazy right most people once you've left school while you've left university in other words for most of your life you will be educated not in a classroom but by the media okay and when you want to start a revolution where do you go do you drive your tank to the homes of the poets and the homes of the philosophers and the homes of the artists no you go first to the newspaper and then the television station that's how you start a revolution this is something that we really neglect there are wonderfully powerful ideas out there but we don't here wrapped them because they have none of the power of mass media if ideas ought to be powerful in the world they must be harnessed to mass media it's my dream one day to start a philosophical mass-media station it's not as crazy as it sounds but we should do it we should do it join me join me in doing it we should do it Plato famously said that the world would only be right when Kings became philosophers or philosophers Kings what he was saying with that idea was something which resonates to this day there is no point having the good ideas in this corner and the microphone in the megaphone and the screen on the other and no connection if media is truly the most powerful thing what have we done to surrender the minds of our children the minds of the population at large to a mechanism of transmission which is so obviously shallow we need to get more serious about the ideas we put in other people's heads the major responsibilities then of course the the criticism people will say is the Critias people say is but you can't make any money that way right whenever I start to dream big dreams people always say to me but you can't make any money now listen the way that you make money is to serve the needs of the human beings there are two ways that you can serve a human being you can either serve their desires or their needs the desire for running shoes for extra pizza that will make them sick for a phone they don't really want right you can satisfy those desires and you can make some money but the really big money is being able to sell things to people that they really need okay and this we are only just beginning capitalism in its is in its very infancy we have learnt nowadays how to sell people running shoes and pizzas we do not know yet how properly to make businesses that will sell people the deepest things that they need you know the one of the biggest businesses in the world today should be marriage therapy is everybody here in a happy relationship will anyone have got any problems at all and are any problems yes some hands are going up some people have some problems now what do you need more what do you think is more important the problem the problem that you haven't got to name any running shoes or the problem that your relationship is not going well okay let me answer that question for you it's them it's a relationship that's the problem okay but businesses haven't known how to harness this okay so it's my prediction that in 50 years on the New York Stock Exchange one of the largest organizations should and will be psychotherapy at the moment psychotherapy is a joke it's run by strange people with odd accents from their bedrooms this should not be the case we should make the best ideas powerful and that means harnessing them to the engines of capitalism something we're only just beginning and learning to do so let me sum up the way I think we need to change the world 1 we have the ideas already stop writing books on justice and freedom and truth we know what justice and freedom truth are ok we just don't know how to make them real so we have a problem of transmission not a problem of intellectual discovery we've done the intellectual discovery we need to make ideas powerful in the world so we need to change the way people are educated we need to change the curriculum we need to understand that what people are suffering with are the problems that they are mortal and that they have a very strong desire for communion with one other person in a romantic relationship and this is very hard and they want work which is not only pays the money but fulfills their soul this is very hard we need to start systematically addressing this in the education system we need to rearrange the way that art is structured let's get art out of the museum and into the street the definition of art is something that lives in a museum is a dead one art is advertising for the most important ideas in the world it currently isn't but it should and can be we need to remake the mass media and we need to remake capitalism to serve not desires but needs in a way that will be profitable these are tiny ideas and we've got time we've got 2 minutes 24 seconds we will have time to address these I want to direct your attention to the challenge before us which is not just the discovery of the truth but the challenge of making the truth effective in the world I'm going to stop it there but I've got two minutes with Andres who's going to come and ask me some questions but thank you so much for listening to me thank you your mics gone dead speaking to mine speaking to mine first of all before I ask you two questions in relation to your future books yeah well he's writing a book now about secrets and also he's writing an essay or a kind of a book about marriage what would you tell a fraction about the importance of secrets in marriage within our relation with our speech I'm just writing a piece here about secrets and normally secrets are seen as a very bad thing why do people lie okay imagine the typical situation the wife has had an affair with her gym teacher it comes back to the husband she doesn't say it was a wonderful night it was great fun but she doesn't say why is she lying okay why is she lying the normal answer is she's a bad person okay that's an inadequate answer every time you have a lie you have two people you have the liar and the person who has set up the situation that they cannot accept the truth and therefore they are being lied to okay so it's very important whenever someone starts to lie you see this with children don't set the bar of the truth so high that people need to start lying to you right let's not have an image of being a good person that is so demanding that most of us have to lie when we don't come up to it it is it is a responsibility not just of the person who has transgressed but also the community around to understand our real nature so that there will be less lies like lying is not just the problem of the liar it's also the problem of the audience [Applause] after the first debate our great encounter of the century that we had today a morning between dockings and Chopra if I understand correctly what we're trying to tell us is Dawkins is telling us there is no God at all but what you're telling us is a that's not enough people meet to believe things neat things to survive look and if you just tell them there's nothing at all and you don't give them like something to take instead you want solve the problem I mean understand I have the highest respect for Richard Dawkins Richard Dawkins is a truly great man however there is a problem in his approach and the problem is this he is trying to tell people that believing in religion is a is a fault is an intellectual error I agree however he is not at all sympathetic or even interested in the cognitive frailties and emotional needs which have led people to a lie he simply wants to show people the truth and leave it there I'm I think this is only the beginning of the project the real direction of the project once you've agreed that God doesn't exist this is only the beginning you still have someone who is terrified of death okay who is very worried about their status who is very worried about love who is very worried about the whole business of living what do you have you know think of a Virgin Mary okay the Virgin Mary in in Catholicism at one level you think look she didn't exist she didn't exist so why believe in her she's ridiculous you know we've disproved you obviously it wasn't a real person end of story no what is the Virgin Mary the Virgin Mary is the maternal comfort that all of us need because life is terrifying we need a mummy an imaginary mummy to hug us and to make us feel more comfortable because life is terrifying now my question to Richard Dawkins with the highest respect is where's the mummy we need the mummy we need a replace at what once an egg won't and what about the Google i/o ourselves again what could be the answer art we don't have to lie we can say right my view of the modern believe that the modern non-believer is this I'm terrified of dying right now if I believed I would like an angel to come and give me a hug I don't believe but I take very seriously my desire for an angel to come and give me a hug I don't believe but I understand what I want this I think is it an enlighten lighting person it's too simple to say angels don't exist it's like okay look I know angels don't exist I'm suffering I have to die [Applause]

27 thoughts on “Emotional Education in the 21st Century Alain de Botton CDI 20132”

  1. "A lie is the responsibility of liar and lie-ee, and the bar of truth in a relationship shouldn't be set so high that lying is necessary."

    Alain appears to lack the understanding that this logic is typical of narcissists and ego-disordered people. Adequate emotional intelligence brings straightforward clarity to the importance of facing whatever consequences are due in a relationship you value and want to retain, as a rule.

  2. Who deny the existence of God is a delusional mind, what makes you ignore a major fact is your blindness not your brightest side of your mind.
    I dare any one to challenge Quraan in any scientific fact in it..
    Guys go and read more about islam. It will save your souls with no doubts.

  3. religion provides guidelines for building character and emotional intelligence. We learn from repetition. I get what this is about but why try reinventing the wheel..lofty ideals(and this borders on grandiosity),nice as they may be,would serve only to create the religion of "secularism" cousin to the religion of "relativism" which attempts to cancel out "black n white" right and wrong" and is frought with self service and excuses. This society has narcissistic personality disorder.

  4. No politician or government truly wants happy, emotionally balanced, smart tax cows…
    They would never get voted back in

  5. Philosophical Mass Media Station – a great idea! Ideas as these are sure to change the world as we know it today!!!

  6. He basically said…Athiesm works in an educated indiviually self actualized society…But when the when emotional pain and human condition suffers…God is needed for soothing, because art music language science does not heal

  7. I bet this guy grew up a scared fatherless little homosexual boy, angry at God. As soon as he said he is an atheists, I became turned off by his presentation. Why? Because he is just like one of those door to door jehovah witness guys. He's just as guilty pushing his religion onto others as they are. Now, nothing he says is going to add up.

  8. Love his ideas! Absolutely eloquently put forward, and they're both charming and valid. I'm a Christian, and a lot of his ideas still resound true alongside my beliefs.

  9. I e-mailed these videos to Alain because they build on many of the ideas and direction of his talks on relationships and I'll share them with anyone else who likes the direction but wants more grounded tools for integrating them in daily life:





  10. Damn, the book I'm needing to write won't change the world? I guess I'll have to move on to plan B. Now … where is plan B? I'm sure I wrote it down somewhere, now where did I put it?

  11. One has to believe that god doesnt exist but has to admit that we need god to comfort us. But this need is not like food and water, we won’t die without it. We have to understand that we can’t get it from god, therefore we source for an alternative, either through culture, community etc to keep us comfortable. Correct?

  12. This Guy is wrong
    There is God

    Sikh religion
    You will find the peace of mind
    You can know what God looks like
    The best Chanel is "basics of Sikhi" on YouTube

  13. Alain was the first one who opened my eyes and got me to think differently. I can now acknowledge the anxieties that come with life and steer away from useless ideas implanted by religion and media. It is not and easy process… but thank you for inciting change and promoting our need for emotional intelligence !

  14. De Botton started the "School of Life" which publishes a huge number of "self help" and "how to" material, the very thing he absolutely writes-off in this video.

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