The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
As with most of Alexander McCall Smiths books, the plot is only half the story. This series is about Isabelle Dalhousie, an educated middle aged woman living in Edinburgh, Scotland. She reviews magazine articles for a Philosophy of Ethics journal and is a member of the Sunday Philosophy club if and when it meets. We not only get a picture of her comfortable life, but a treatise on the ethical dilemmas of everyday life.
I found the ethical delemmas to be extremely interesting. When I was in college, our Methods of Education teacher took a class to Northern Virginia to visit some of the classes we would be doing our practice teaching in. In the course of the trip all of the students of one particular "Philosoply of Education" class (with a very poor teacher) said that the class was about the most useless class we had ever taken. Our "Methods" teacher told us that this was the most important class we could take. It was the basis on which we would make all of our decisions about the way we taught. He then proceeded to teach all we should have learned in the class we were enrolled in.
I felt like this book was just like that trip. One of the problem of today is that too many people have no philosophy of life. We may say we value our friends, but choose to watch television instead of being with them. We say we value our children, but we are spending less than 2 hours of conversation a week with them...you could go on forever. Many of the things we say we value are in direct conflict with other things we value.
Isabelle's ruminations about what we own the people whose lives cross ours really made me stop and think. She is the last person a man saw when he fell from a balcony at the Opera house. She is haunted by the gaze and wants to find out why he either jumped, fell or was pushed from the balcony. Her applied ethics makes her question what her role in his death should be. That is just one dilemma in the book. I found myself constantly being challenged by her ethics "in fear and trembling."
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