In inauspicious times for Philosophy, let’s talk about André Conte Sponville, a person who devotes to make this discipline easier to people of all levels, with or without academic preparation, but who share the motto of this materialistic, rationalist and humanist philosopher: to think better to live better.

Born in Paris, currently 62,  André Conte Sponville was a student and friend of Louis Althusser at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris (where he received his doctorate) and professor at the University of La Sorbonne, institution he left to devote to lecture on the value of philosophy for personal welfare. He is a member of the National Consultative Ethics Committee of France and Doctor Honoris Causa by the Belgian University of Mons-Hainaut.

Of their referents, which are Epicurus, the Stoics, Spinoza and Montaigne, Lévi-Strauss, Marcel Conche and Clément Rosset, he writes about that the path to happiness is in the will and our own action. He has embodied his ideas both in numerous articles in magazines and newspapers and in so bright and close books like ‘Happiness, desperately’, ‘Little Treaty of Great Virtues’, ‘Philosophical Dictionary’, ‘The Most Beautiful Reflections on Life’, ‘Introduction to Philosophy’, ‘Joy of Living’, ‘Impromptus: Between Passion and Reflection’, ‘The Love of Solitude’ or “Neither Sex Nor Death’, among others.

Comte Sponville explains that what we live by is philosophizing, the more we know and are aware of what surrounds us (knowing, thinking and acceptance that our reality is what we have here and now) we better live, to be happy is loving the small moments of life. Therefore, it is worth learning to think. He contributes to emotional education with simple diffusion (and just as deep) of key philosophical universal themes: love, death, morality, freedom…

Some excerpts from his writings include:


There are three types of desire. The first is hope; the second, will and the third, love. What is the difference between hope and desire? Well, hope is a desire whose satisfaction does not depend on me, while will does. Happiness is achieved through the will of action. Instead, hope confines us to fear, there can be no hope without fear, no fear without hope.

We just hope what it is not; only love what it is. We just hope what does not depend on us; we just want what does depends on us. This indicates that there is a two-way wisdom about waiting a little less and, above all, loving and wanting a little more. This is not a waiver or stop wishing! But wanting more what depends on us than that it does not depend, and therefore to will and act, not to content to wait. Wisdom and love for action, not resignation! If one pursues happiness, means they are not happy. They should be concerned more with what really matters: love, pleasure, joy, justice, work, freedom, children, friends… Happiness will follow, if it comes. And if it does not, we will not miss it that much.

One is happy if we are happy to live, even in times of sadness or anguish, we’d rather be alive than dead, then I’m happy. True happiness is the love of life, and this includes the unpleasant moments. The wisdom is to love life and not just happiness, because those who love happiness love life only in moments of joy.

Spinoza (…) “We have the feeling and experience that we are eternal”. I say, indeed, I had the opportunity to experience something along those lines. But which eternity? Of course, no other life, eternity is now: it’s not a future that we are promised, it is the same present that we are given.

Is it happier he who ignores? It may be: it is what is called a happy idiot. But the philosopher does not seek only happiness, they also seeks the truth. It is what is called wisdom, happiness is in the truth, because it is not wisdom but folly. What is wisdom? The greatest happiness is at the maximum of lucidity. Think better to live better.

After life there is no-thing. That is, as before birth. Nobody is afraid to think what it was before they were conceived.

The presenteeism of the times attacks the young especially, as they know loads of data, events, and no History. And so, there are fewer and less educated because culture means faithfulness, memory of the past; both issues, present and History, must go hand in hand.

The single man lives just as breathing, without further effort or glory, without further consequences or reproach. Simplicity is a virtue that is added to the stock. It is the existence in the extent that nothing is added to it. Therefore it is the lightest of the virtues, the more transparent and more scarce. It is the opposite of literature, it is life without phrases, without lies, without exaggeration, without bombast. Life is insignificant and so is the true life. Simplicity is the opposite of duplicity, the complexity of the claim. That is why it is so difficult. Complexity of reality: simplicity of being. “The opposite of being is not nothingness, Clément Rosset writes, but duplicity”. The opposite of simple is not complex, but false.

The simplicity in people –simplicity as a virtue– is not to deny consciousness or thought. It is recognized rather in the ability to, without canceling them, getting rid of them, not to be its victim or its prisoner…

There is no happy love (love as desire for what is missing), no happiness without love (a love and desire for what is not missing). The happy couple beats Schopenhauer! It lives in Love-Joy action, which is constructor.

Women invented love. To a male humanity sex, war and football would have been enough. But those were not enough for them: they loved their children. And they taught to love their partners and their children. A woman has taught us all to love.

Without love anything or anyone, why live?


A necessary author, an outstanding thinker, a lucid mind you should know to be able to learn, grow and enjoy.




Álex Rovira

Alex Rovira