Cover image for Astonish yourself : 101 experiments in the philosophy of everyday life
Astonish yourself : 101 experiments in the philosophy of everyday life
Droit, Roger-Pol.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
101 expériences de philosophie quotidienne
Publication Information:
New York : Penguin Books, 2003.

Physical Description:
xii, 210 pages ; 19 cm
General Note:
First work originally published: 101 expériences de philosophie quotidienne. Paris : O. Jacob, 2001. 2nd work originally published: 101 experiments in the philosophy of everyday life. London : Faber and Faber, 2002.
Added Title:
101 experiments in the philosophy of everyday life.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
B52.5 .D76 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Say your name aloud to yourself in a quiet room. Imagine peeling an apple in your mind. Take the subway without trying to get anywhere. The simple meditations in this book have the potential to shake us awake from our preconceived certainties: our own identity, the stability of the outside world, the meanings of words. At once entertaining and startling, irreverent and wise, this book will provoke moments of awareness for readers in any situation and in all walks of life. Enter the space of your favorite painting. Watch someone sleeping. The world won't look the same again.

Author Notes

Roger-Pol Droit was born in Paris in 1949 and is a philosopher, a researcher at the Centre de la Recherche Scientifique, and a columnist for the French daily newspaper Le Monde . He is the author of La Compagnie des Philosophes and Astonish Yourself .

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Philosopher and Le Monde columnist Droit's strange and delightful little volume explores some of the biggest questions in philosophy with exercises instead of terminology-laden tracts, by encouraging readers to discover the ways in which small or familiar acts-fasting, prowling, playing, telling a stranger she's beautiful-can become "the starting point for that astonishment which gives rise to philosophy." Each of the 101 exercises is carefully, even lovingly explained, with duration, necessary props and intended effect listed first. Exercise #31, for example, instructs readers to "Watch dust in the sun": it should take about 15 minutes, a room and sunlight are needed, and its effect is "reassuring." When a ray of sunlight enters a dark room, an "invisible world" of sparkling dust reveals itself-a symbol of the "stratum of existence that is both invisible and present" always. There are other worlds within ours, Droit reminds us, worlds that we might be able to see with only a metaphoric readjustment of shutters. There are exercises to calm, to disorient, to humanize, to displace; for instance, listening to shortwave radio at night, Droit writes, will help readers realize that "perpetually around you, woven into the air...are these hundreds of voices murmuring, in dozens of unknown or unrecognizable languages, of which you know nothing, expect that they spread an obscure and changing human crust, unendingly, over everything." Already a bestseller in Europe, this volume should appeal to anyone who has ever asked questions about perception or identity, or wanted a new way to see the world and the self. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Droit, a French philosopher and newspaper columnist, endeavors to apply philosophy to everyday life. In this book of everyday "experiments," he asks his readers to engage in various activities, usually for a few minutes or hours. By attending closely to what one is experiencing, one gains new insights into life. For example, the reader is invited to browse for several hours in a bookshop. By concentrating on each book, as it in effect appeals to be purchased, this insight will suggest itself: "literature is prostitution. At least in one sense. Each printed story is a hooker trying to be noticed, trying to captivate the passerby and live at least a little longer in the arc of your attention." Clearly, Droit by no means equates philosophy with seriousness. In fact, he invites us to pick a leading philosophical concept, such as Plato's idea of the Good or Kant's notion of moral law, and laugh at it: "The truest way to respect ideas comes through laughter." This engaging book brings out Droit's remarkable powers of seeing the ordinary in a new light. Recommended for all philosophy collections.-David Gordon, Bowling Green State Univ., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.