Gilbert went to live and work in Switzerland, where he co-founded an investment firm, Global Asset Management; his family was estimated to have been worth £234 million in 1999.
Alain spent the first twelve years of his life in Switzerland where he was brought up speaking French and German.
He makes an eloquent, witty case to move beyond snobbery to find true pleasure in our work.
What if the first question we asked on a date were, “How are you crazy? Philosopher and writer Alain de Botton’s essay “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person” was, amazingly, the most-read article in in the news-drenched year of 2016.
The main exception to this lack of interest in applied ethics comes in religion.Nowhere do we realistically teach ourselves and our children how love deepens and stumbles, survives and evolves over time, and how that process has much more to do with ourselves than with what is right or wrong about our partner. So we have this ideal of what love is and then these very, very unhelpful narratives of love. Love is at its most necessary when we are weak, when we feel incomplete, and we must show love to one another at those points. The only conditions — as we know with children, the only conditions under which anyone learns are conditions of incredible sweetness, tenderness, patience. But the problem is that the failures of our relationships have made us so anxious that we can’t be the teachers we should be. And not to infantilize them, but when we’re dealing with children as parents, as adults, we’re incredibly generous in the way we interpret their behavior. I think there’s a certain wisdom that begins by knowing that of course you, like everyone else, is pretty difficult. Our parents don’t tell us, our ex-lovers — they knew it, but they couldn’t be bothered to tell us. And often, you can be way into your 40s before you’re starting to get a sense of, “Well, maybe some of the problem is in me.” Because of course, it’s so intuitive to think that of course it’s the other person. There are islands and moments of beautiful connection, but we have to be modest about how often they’re going to happen. If I can be indiscreet on air, my wife used to say to me, in the early days of our marriage, she sometimes would say to me things like, “My father would never have said something like” — I would say something, or it’s not my turn to make the tea or something. He would always to do this for us.” And then I had to point out that there was really a — she wasn’t comparing like with like. And so one of the things we do as parents is to edit ourselves, which is lovely, in a way, for our children. Today, we are exploring the true hard work of love with the writer and philosopher Alain de Botton. Tippett: I’d like to go a slightly different place with all of this. And I think if we just try and explore the world “political,” “political” really means “outside of private space.” And we’re highly socialized creatures who really take our cues from what is going on around us. And we need to build a world that recognizes that if somebody goes “mm-hmm” rather than “this” or “thanks” rather than “yes” or whatever it is, this can ruin our day.How different would our relationships be, de Botton says, if the question we asked on an early date was, “How are you crazy? So we’ve got these two contrasting stories, and we get them muddled, and… Tippett: And also — and I feel like this should be obvious — but you just touched on art and culture and how that could help us complexify our understanding of this. Tippett: Your most recent book on this subject is , which is a novel, but it’s a novel that actually I feel you kind of weave a pedagogical narrator voice into it. And therefore, some often genuine legitimate things that we want to get across are just — come across as insults, as attempts to wound, and are therefore rejected, and the arteries of the relationship start to fur. Tippett: Someone recently said to me — I’m curious about how you would respond to this. So as — now that I have young adult children, when you hear that coming out of the mouth of your 21-year-old, “He should know. And if a child says — if you walk home, and a child says, “I hate you,” you immediately go, OK, that’s not quite true. So to begin with that sense of, “I’m quite tricky and in these ways.” That’s a very important starting point for being good at love. I think if you’re lonely with only — I don’t know — 40 percent of your life, that’s really good going. There’s this wonderful line from about these two parents with children: “The tired child in each of them is furious at how long it’s been neglected and in pieces.” Mr. She was comparing this man, her father, as a father but not as a lover. But it gives our children a really unnatural sense of what you can expect from another human being because we’re never as nice to probably anyone else on Earth as we are to our children. The things you’ve been saying, pointing out about how love really works, that people don’t learn when they’re humiliated, that self-righteousness is an enemy of love. And if we see an atmosphere of short tempers, of selfishness, etc., that will bolster those capacities within ourselves. And we should think about that as we approach, not just our personal relationships, but also our social and political relationships.It cannot be its precondition.” Alain de Botton’s essay “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person” was, amazingly, the most-read article in in the news-drenched year of 2016. But if you say to people, “Look, love is a painful, poignant, touching attempt by two flawed individuals to try and meet each other’s needs in situations of gross uncertainty and ignorance about who they are and who the other person is, but we’re going to do our best,” that’s a much more generous starting point. And then there’s this moment where you say, “After the dinner party, Rabih is sincerely trying to bring about an evolution in the personality of the wife he loves. Tippett: I’d like to talk through some of these core truths that fly in the face of this way we go around behaving and that movies have taught us to behave and that possibly our parents taught us to behave, these core truths that can put us on the foundation of reality. The great enemy of love, good relationships, good friendships, is self-righteousness. And our friends don’t tell us because they just want a pleasant evening with us.As people, and as a culture, he says, we would be much saner and happier if we reexamined our very view of love. So, the acceptance of ourselves as flawed creatures seems to me what love really is. But his chosen technique is distinctive: to call Kirsten materialistic, to shout at her, and then, later, to slam two doors.”  By the time we’ve humiliated someone, they’re not going to learn anything. But it’s interesting that you mention your children and children generally because I think — it sounds eerie, but I think that one of the most — one of the kindest things that we can do with our lover is to see them as children. If we start by accepting that of course we’re only just holding it together, and in many ways, really quite challenging people — I think if somebody thinks that they’re easy to live with, they’re by definition going to be pretty hard and don’t have much of an understanding of themselves. Tippett: Well, by the time they tell us, we’re dismissing what they say anyway. So we’re left with a bubble of ignorance about our own natures. If you expect that your lover must understand everything about you, you will be — well, you’ll be furious pretty much all the time.As people and as a culture, he says, we would be much saner and happier if we reexamined our very view of love. And you say, at one point, this is the relationship between Rabih and Kirsten. Look, one of the first important truths is, you’re crazy.How might our relationships be different — and better — if we understood that the real work of love is not in the falling, but in what comes after? Krista Tippett, host: “Compatibility is an achievement of love. And you said, at one point, “Their relationship is secretly yet mutually marked by a project of improvement,” which I think we all recognize. Not you, as it were; all of us, that all of us are deeply damaged people.Announce that you are working on your body and you will attract envy and respect.Declare that you are working on your character, and you will be thought insane.His books discuss various contemporary subjects and themes, emphasizing philosophy's relevance to everyday life.He published Essays in Love (1993), which went on to sell two million copies.