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Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness Paperback – June 26, 2007
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“The message of Epictetus is as vital today as it ever was.” (Jacob Needleman, author of The Heart of Philosophy)
“Epictetus sounds like the Buddha, and Sharon Lebell’s voice makes him sound like the delightful man next door.” (Sylvia Boorstein, author of It's Easier Than You Think)
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Top Customer Reviews
"Abstain from casual sex and particularly avoid sexual intercourse before you get married." ... "If, however, you know someone who has had casual sex, don't self-righteously try to win them over to your own views."
Arrian (Epictetus's sole recorder) writes in the Enchiridion:
"As to pleasure with women, abstain as far as you can before marriage: but if you do indulge in it, do it in the way which is conformable to custom. Do not, however be disagreeable to those who indulge in these pleasures, or reprove them; and do not often boast that you do not indulge in them yourself."
I'd say that Lebell has done a good job of capturing the spirit of what Arrian reported of Epictetus teachings (in this case). She often adds her own extrapolations and interpretations based on (1) her own understanding of the philosophy, and (2) a desire to make the reading more accessible and compelling to her audience. I agree that it would be awfully nice to have references to the original texts for comparison -- or perhaps an original+commentary format -- but before you indict her for complete fabrication, please, at least take a look at the original!
The people who characterize Sharon Lebell's interpretive rendering as a "self-help" book have at least half a point; the written records of Epictetus's teachings (Epictetus didn't write them down himself) were self-help books in the first place.
And fine ones they were. Oh, there are a few points at which Epictetus counsels heights of detachment suitable only for inhuman monsters, as when he suggests that we remember our wives and children are mortal so that we won't grieve when they die. But on the whole his teachings are firmly founded on the view that absolutely everything occurs by Providence, we are all of us children of God and citizens of the world with natural fellowship with one another, and we should assume responsibility for precisely those things which we can control -- namely, ourselves.
This view, or something very close to it, has grounded religious and philosophical programs from the Torah to Alcoholics Anonymous, from Spinoza to the Musar movement, from antiquity to the very latest modernity (e.g., Mark Rosen's excellent _Thank You for Being Such a Pain_): when you face a challenge, use it to improve yourself; that's what it's for.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the most influential book in my life. Thank you, Sharon, for taking on this project. It has lifted so much stress from my life, and I've bought copies for dozens of people. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Craig Ballantyne
Great learning material for those that want to learn how to live in harmony with a healthy and productive life stilePublished 2 months ago by Orestes D Sucar
Fantastic little collection of thoughts about life. I try to read this at least once per year. It is so great because you can read as little or as much as you like and every time... Read morePublished 2 months ago by RickBob
A classic manual on virtue is exactly what this book is. It is written as a collection of 1 or 2 page thoughts, each good for a daily reminder, each one gem. Read morePublished 4 months ago by mcmullet
I strongly recommend this book. It was given to me a while back while I was going through a difficult time. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Justin McKean