The World of Sofia, an Approach to Philosophy

The world of Sofia has been a book read and enjoyed by several generations who have seen in it a magnificent door to the fascinating world of philosophy.


The world of Sofia is a work that synthesizes the history of Western philosophy in a novelistic format. This original claim is what has made it a well-known and recommended book. It is for its pleasant, simple and close language compared to the classic manuals of long sentences and reasoning thought in the person who already has prior knowledge of the subject.

Thus, we speak of a work that does not pretend to be more than it is, and what it is is very good. Especially for those people who want to get an idea of ​​what thought students have thought throughout history. In addition, it constitutes a magnificent door for people who later want to know more.

Before beginning reading

The world of Sofia was published in the year 1991, assuming at that time an authentic revolution (at that time there was a scarcity of texts that would lower the philosophy of the heights and act as a bridge for the most curious). It is the work that led the Norwegian philosopher and writer Jostein Gaarder to be “one of the most successful authors in Europe”. It has been translated into more than fifteen languages ​​and taken to the cinema in 1999 with the same title by the director, also Norwegian, Erik Gustavson.

About the author

Jostein Gaarder has received different prizes dedicated to literature and youth writing such as: the National Prize for Literary Criticism in Norway and the European Prize for Youth Literature, to name a few. His more than fifteen literary works aim to address issues of existential and philosophical interest with an agile and simple style. For some people, “he was the best-selling writer on the planet during 95 and 96.”

About the work

The world of Sofia has more than six hundred pages in its Spanish version and is published in the Siruela publishing house (inside the library dedicated to the author, since he has published most of his books in Spanish). It is divided into thirty-five chapters that expose in a dynamic and concrete way more than two thousand years of philosophy and account, as proof of its success, with twenty editions.

The world of Sofia “A novel that became a book of worship”

Have you ever asked yourself “Who are you?”; “What’s a human being?”; “Is not it unfair that life has to end sometime?”; “Is not it sad that most people have to get sick to realize how nice it is to live?”; Where does the world come from?”.

These are some of the questions that invade the thoughts of little Sofia from a mysterious letter written by who, apparently, is a philosopher. Thus, the story unfolds around Sofia Amundsen, a girl of almost fifteen years. It focuses on the formation of his identity from the conversations he has with the sender of the mysterious letters. With these you try to answer your questions. We see a girl increasingly interested in the complexity of the human being and the world around him. They address issues such as:

“What is philosophy?”; “The philosophers of nature”; “Science of the history and science of medicine”; “Who was Socrates?”; “Plato”; “Aristotle”; “Religion, philosophy and science”; “Neoplatonism”; “The romanticism”; among others. As you can tell it is not a novel to read in one sitting, since its content needs a time for digestion.

A fragment of the book

I leave you some fragments that are part of the book that may be useful for you to know if, calling your attention the philosophy, is a style with which you would enjoy. In one of the letters where they talk about Hellenism:


Socrates tells that once stood in front of a post where there were a lot of items exposed. Finally he exclaimed: “How many things I do not need!”

This exclamation can serve as holder for the cynical philosophy, founded by Antisthenes in Athens around the year 400 a. de C. He had been a student of Socrates and had set himself above all in the modesty of his teacher.

The cynics taught that true happiness does not depend on external things such as luxury, political power or good health. True happiness does not consist in relying on such fortuitous and vulnerable things, and precisely because

It does not depend on those things it can be achieved by everybody, besides it can not be lost when it has already been achieved.


Nowadays the words -cicnic- and -cinism- are used in the sense of lack of sensitivity to the suffering of others.

After the cynics, there have been many philosophers who have returned to this idea happiness. It is seductive to think that, by reducing the number of elements that we depend on (we need), we will be closer to feeling complete. In this way, it would be easier to determine objectives or not to feel overwhelmed by your own desire.

In short, these are just a few small strokes of a book that has seduced several generations. That has caused many people to finish studying philosophy, in addition to saving the pretension of many teachers who felt unable to bring the subject to their pupils.