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Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0631180333
ISBN-10: 0631180338
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Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault + The Inner Citadel: The <i>Meditations</i> of Marcus Aurelius (Meditations of Marcus Aurelius) + What Is Ancient Philosophy?
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Hadot's essays exhibit impressive scholarship and a habit of profound reflection. This is not a book for the casual reader but it is an important publication and should be a required text for every student of philosophy, classics and the history of ideas, and for any serious teacher of these subjects." The Tablet

<!--end-->"Hadot's work is very engaging, knowledgeable, well written and insightful. I highly recommend this book for both general and professional readers." Richard S. Findler, Phil dept, Slippery Rock University for the History of European Ideas

"Recommended for upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty." H. L. Shapiro, University of Missouri for Choice

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (August 3, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631180338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631180333
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 54 people found the following review helpful By greg taylor VINE VOICE on August 29, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am not sure this is the best introduction to Hadot's approach to philosophy. "What is Ancient Philosophy?" is more of one piece. Which makes sense because what we have in this book is a collection of articles, addresses and an interview that have been loosely woven together.
But this volume has some particular strengths. Arnold Davidson's introduction is brilliant. He manages to introduces the main themes of investigation throughout Hadot's life (Hadot passed away just a few months ago). Davidson also makes it clear that Hadot's insights into ancient philosophy are based on his work as a translator of works from that period.
Another strength is that many of the articles collected here show off the extraordinary cultural learning of Hadot. I remarked in my review of "What is Ancient Philosophy?" that reading Hadot is to be introduced to the work of generations of French and German scholars of whom most Americans know nothing (would someone please translate Groethuyson's "Anthropologie philosophique" for me? Please?)
But in this book, Hadot also demonstrates his remarkable grasp of such diverse thinkers as Nietzsche, Montaigne, Goethe, Wittgenstein, Merleau-Ponty and Foucault. I always walk away from reading Hadot feeling as if I am both the Nitwit of Western Culture and exhilarated by some of the connections that he has made.

Hadot is particularly famous in France for his work as a translator/commentator of Plotinus and Marcus Aurelius. Early textual work on those two and other philosophers led Hadot to the realization that many of the works of the Hellenistic period were being misunderstood because today's interpreters were not seeing these works for what they were.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful By John Piazza on August 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
All students of philosophy should get this book. It rekindles that spark which is the core of all philosophical investigation, and which, unfortunately, is too often stomped out by academia. Hadot takes us back to a time when philosophy, religion and spirituality were not separate, but one, and he shows us that philosophy can continue to provide its students with meaning.
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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful By "whateverhappenedtoprivacy" on March 29, 2004
Format: Paperback
This collection of Hadot's essays is readable and useful. Michael Chase's translation of Hadot's French is clear and elegant and completely unobtrusive. The introduction by Arnold I. Davidson--while longer than some of the essays in the book--is indespensible. Hadot provides a key to reading some ancient authors, and this key enables us to see their writings as a form of philosophical practice, as spirital exercises. Hadot offers practical advice on how to read the Stoics, for example. Try reading the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius after Hadot and be the richer for it. Hadot also illuminates and critiques some modern thinkers as well.
The book has an index, a good bibliography, and each essay includes numerous notes. There is also an interesting interview [by Michael Chase, the translator] with Hadot in the postscript.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By John Trapp on October 10, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books that I have read in quite some time. Focused mostly on the Hellenistic era but also going as far back as Socrates and as far forward as Nietzsche and Foucault.

The book seeks to elucidate philo-sophy (love of wisdom) not as a rarefied field of study but as a way of life consistent with making us one with the universe.

The book, originally in French, is not a light-weight self help book as its title may imply. But is instead a deep study of the origins of "spiritual exercises" from Socrates to the Hellenists (Stoicism, Epicureanism, and neo-Platonism) and onward to the early Christians.

Hadot's main thesis is that philosophy has been gutted in the modern era to focus on rarefied discourse and study at the expense of it serving as an aid in helping us to lead better lives. Using abundant examples from the likes of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, Hadot makes a significant and resounding case for a re-emergence of philosophy from the walls of academia, where it has been penned and chained for the last 1500 years. While knowledge of ancient philosophy is not strictly required for reading this book, those with this knowledge will get the most from it.

I have studied the Stoics and Epicureans about as much as is possible for a layman, and I found this book indispensable in making clear the teachings of Epicurus and Zeno, as well as the early Christian scholars. Hadot shows clearly that the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are grounded in philosophy going back at least as far as Socrates.

I recommend this book in the most high fashion to anyone who seeks wisdom and loves a good mental workout.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By bstone0@georgetowncollege.edu on June 3, 1998
Format: Paperback
In this book, Pierre Hadot addresses the need for philosophy to return to the philo-sophy of the ancient writers (he places special emphasis on Socrates, Marcus Arelius, Epicurus and Epictetus). The book is well organized and clear to understand. Hadot does a good job with his citation of lots of ancient material, which allows the readers to read more of the original works that he cites. With a thorough bibliography and excellent endnotes, this book is a must-have for all philosophers interested in a)postmodern philosophy and b)ancient philosophy scholars.
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