Published: September 01, 1994
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
“The only thing we require to be good philosophers is the faculty of wonder.”
One day when Sophie comes home from school, she finds two questions in her mail: Who are you? and Where does the world come from? Before she knows it, she is pondering all the great questions of Western Philosophy (from the Greeks to Kant, to Marx and Freud) with a mysterious mentor. But Sophie is also receiving a second batch of equally unusual letters. Who is Hilde? And why does her mail keep turning up in Sophie’s world? To solve this riddle, Sophie uses for new knowledge of philosophy, but the truth is far stranger than she could have imagined.
Sophie’s World is a mystery that unravels and demystifies the history of philosophy. This unorthodox novel will reawaken everyone’s sense of wonder and curiosity about the meaning of life.
I am a Bachelor’s Degree holder in Philosophy and Sophie’s World was the first-ever required reading that our Into to Philosophy professor assigned to us. Unfortunately, most of us did not really finish the book (I think some of us did not even attempt to read it) and it was only until now, 8 years later that I finally finished this book. I have attempted many times in that 8 years to finish this but whenever I picked it up, I would somehow put it down and forgot that I am reading it.
I would divide this review into two parts. The first one will be a review from the perspective of someone who has no idea or has a basic understanding of philosophy and the second one will be from the perspective of a bachelor degree holder in the subject. So let’s get into the review because this will be a very very long one.
BASIC UNDERSTANDING PERSPECTIVE
If I have no idea as to what philosophy is, I would probably give this book a 3-Moon rating. Storywise, I think the author has done a good job of making a scenario as to how philosophy will be introduced to the readers in a form of fiction. However, the discussion part of every chapter gives off a textbook feel to it while you’re reading it. So keep in mind that when you dive into this book you would still get a lecture in a form of text just like in your other class.
But the good thing about this book is that the main character is a 15-year old girl. So there are examples that would help you understand a certain era or philosophy that was being discussed in a chapter. The philosophy was simplified in this book and you would surely understand it because the examples are from a normal person’s day to day experience.
Plus, Hilde is probably my favorite character in the whole novel. What she did is so much better and a much preferable way to how it should end rather than how the author decided to end it.
However, the reason why this book would only be a 3-Moon rating is because some parts of this book felt very flat, especially towards the ending. There are magical whatsoever that happened and there are these famous characters from other children’s book that seems irrelevant in the whole story. The whole plot, without those fictional characters, is much better. In addition to that, I wish the last chapter of this book did not exist because I like how Hilde could have ended it in her way.
PHILOSOPHY MAJOR PERSPECTIVE
I hated this book. And I forgot the last time that I rated a book this low, but there we have it. My first ever 1-Moon rating for 2020 and hopefully the last. I understand now why our professor asked us to read this book back in our Freshmen year. It’s because we don’t know anything yet. And it might be a good way to give us a gist of what we will deal with for our whole college life. But picking this book up after 4 years of studying philosophy? Not a good idea.
First of all, I am enjoying myself while reading the first half of this book. It is like a good refresher of what I have studied back then. Although there are times when the actual term in the philosophy that was being discussed was omitted and only a synonymous word was mentioned. But then I let it go thinking that that’s the author’s way of simplifying the philosophy. But then it constantly occur. And it makes me think if the author was intentionally omitting the terms to make it look like he actually knows what he is writing.
The second thing that really annoys me is the discussion of the philosopher. There are important philosophers that really made an impact in the whole history that was not properly discussed and some were just mentioned in the discussion of their era. And once again, I am thinking that maybe the author just wanted to give a brief discussion of these philosophers because their philosophy really needs a lot of studying to fully comprehend it and he does not want to make a mistake while discussing their philosophy. But then there is this one philosopher that Alberto and Sophie really makes a big deal of and they were saying that he was relevant to what was going on with all those mysterious postcard. So I was really anticipating that chapter, the same way as Sophie was anticipating the discussion. But when we get to that chapter, it was only 2 pages long. 2. PAGES. Did we get to know his relevance? No. Did we get to have a good discussion of his philosophy to at least make a connection to the story? NO.
But what really infuriates me in this book is how the author decided to end this book and how he decided to wrap-up what was intended to be a novel about the history of philosophy. When I get into 70 or probably 80% of the book, it turns from a philosophical to scientific real quick. I mentioned that I was annoyed that some philosopher’s philosophy was not discussed properly. But then there is a chapter about Charles Darwin and his theory of natural selection and it was probably the longest chapter of all the individual philosophers that was discussed in this whole book. Moreover, is Charles Darwin a philosopher? NO. Although he has some ideas that some debated as philosophical, he was not in any way relevant to the history of philosophy. There are many more relevant philosophers that were worth discussing and the author chose Charles Darwin instead. And even the discussion on Freud was leaning more on his psychological work than his philosophical one. And the final chapter is the final straw. It was about the BIG BANG THEORY. So philosophical.🙄
So that is it for this long review/rant about this book. And thank you if you read all that rants, that was a long one.🤣
Until next time!