A Guide to the Good Life

Over the holiday I read a truly wonderful new book called A Guide to The Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, by William B. Irvine. Irvine is a professor of philosophy at Wright State in Dayton, Ohio, and, unlike virtually every other modern academic philosopher, he's decided to devote his energies to the question of how one ought to live (instead of writing arcane papers for other academics that have little to do with what philosophy should really be about). Irvine shows how the Stoic approach to attaining virtue and tranquility -- and the day to day techniques they developed more than 2000 years ago to pursue these ends -- has deep relevance to modern life. The book really resonated with me (from what little I knew of the Stoics before, I was already convinced I was tempermentally kind of a Stoic myself - especially re their counsel that while one can't control what happens in life, one can control how one reacts to what happens). I can't do justice to the book's many pleasures in a brief squib here. Suffice to say I find myself referring to the book almost every day now in ways that are driving my wife and daughter a little crazy (Jody is definitely not a Stoic, but I am working on her...and since she gave me the book for Hanukah she has only herself to blame!) Irvine also includes suggested further readings, which has me heading next for Seneca's essays. You can find more at Irvine's website here.


OpenID stephenl said...

I was already going to get this book based on your recommendation on Left, Right and Center. Now that I know the author is a fellow Daytonian, I'm doubly eager.

January 5, 2009 at 8:29 PM  

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