A unique selection of the greatest thinkers from the fields of philosophy, political theory, sociology, art, architecture and literature, with enjoyable profiles of what they have to teach to us today. Typically, great thinkers have been included in encyclopaedic works on the basis of reputation and historic influence. The School of Life has a different aim: to work out whose ideas stand the highest chance of being helpful in our lives now. It does so by following a number of principles: 1) Only a few things that any mind, however great, has ever said are likely to be of central lasting importance. 2) These key points are detachable from the full body of a thinker's work. 3) We are forgetful, time-pressured creatures. So we need central messages spelt out memorably and simply. 4) Whatever academic culture tells us, context is not decisive. Important truths get lodged in odd places and can be extricated from them - they may lie in 3rd century China, or in an aristocratic salon in 18th century Paris. What matters is what they can do for us now.
The 60 chosen thinkers include La Rochefoucauld, Lao Tzu, Matsuo Basho, Sen no Rikyu, Alexis de Tocqueville, St Benedict, Donald Winnicott, John Bowlby, Melanie Klein, Andrea Palladio, Coco Chanel, Henri Matisse; as well as more familiar entries such as Plato, Wittgenstein, Foucault, Marx, Confucius and Freud.