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The Morality of Happiness Paperback – April 13, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0195096521 ISBN-10: 0195096525

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (April 13, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195096525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195096521
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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"A richly nuanced and exceptionally clear historical study....A learned, provocative study that will redefine current debates about 'virtue-ethics' and its differences from moral theory. Strongly recommended for all college and university libraries."--Choice


"Annas presents both a brilliant analysis of ancient ethical theory and a powerfully argued defense of the priorities and approaches taken by ancient philosophers to ethical questions. Her mastery of a wide range of ancient (and modern) texts along with her skilled exposition of philosophical argument makes this an outstanding book...It will be required reading for any scholar of ancient ethical thought, and contemporary moral philosophers will find rich insights to bring back to their work as well....The Morality of Happiness will generously repay thoughtful reading. It is distinguished both by the comprehensive scope of its general thesis and by the subtlety of its details." --Bryn Mawr Classical Review


"[An] admirable book....This is an important book. Many of Annas's claims will provoke scholarly controversy for some time to come; in the meantime, the book will be a tremendous help to those who want to understand the development of ancient ethics as a whole."--Times Educational Supplement


"[An] extremely worthwhile book."--International Philosophical Quarterly


"This ambitious, detailed survey...is at once unusually broad in its treatment of the varieties of Greek ethics, satisfyingly deep in its analysis of individual theories, and appropriately systematic throughout."--Religious Studies Review


About the Author

Julia Annas is at University of Arizona.

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This book presents a very clear and concise discussion of several important issues concerning the ancients, especially Aristotle and the Hellenistic philosophers, and relates them to debates between those views. With careful examination of the nuances of the approaches of different schools of thought in the ancient period, Annas shows that many of these theories have interesting insights to offer and that modern moral philosophy can benefit from understanding them. While Annas admits that this is not intended to be a very deep study or investigation of any one view, her examination of ancient philosophy is very useful to anyone interested in ancient ethics and seeking a basic orientation to their approaches.
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30 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Kornilov on July 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
You'd think a book with this title would have something to offer the earnest student and general reader. You might even hope that the author would bring to light the array of secrets to a happy life, known and taught by the great sages of antiquity. And you might, as I did, imagine that this hope was vaguely confirmed by the introductory chapter. But, alas, no. Annas is more professor and scholar than inspired teacher. She understands her subject to be so many ancient ethical theories, intellectual systems, with their strengths and weaknesses, their logical coherence or lack of it, etc. etc. --all to be argued about in implicit comparison to modern moral philosophies discussed only in universities. In other words, she fails to convey the practical spirit and inner life of the ancient thinkers she presents. She fails to grasp the real superiority of ancient wisdom to modern in the quest for happiness.

Take her chapter on the Stoics - rather thin, in light of the immense influence of Stoicism on Western culture and social thought. Annas does bring forward some useful citations from Arius and Diogenes, which give us some insight into early Stoicism. But her chapter gets entirely, yes entirely, bogged down in the purely theoretical preoccupation about what "natural" means in Stoic doctrines - especially the problem of how their ethics relates to ideas about Cosmic Nature. Hence she reads two of Stoicism's finest (and most popular) writers extremely poorly: Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. Annas completely misses their originality and usefulness for real life! She appears actually to prefer Kant's bloodless formalist system, otherwise parasitic on Stoic thought. Only someone with academic blinders is capable of such a presentation.
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