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The Best Things in Life: A Guide to What Really Matters (Philosophy in Action) 1st Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195331424
ISBN-10: 0195331427
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

What did poet Philip Larkin mean by the “catching of happiness”? Should we, in any case, spend our lives chasing happiness, or should we instead cultivate virtue or knowledge? Exploring such questions, Hurka surveys the range of human goods and investigates the ways a reflective person can make meaningful choices in fostering these goods. And though Hurka challenges the hedonist’s belief that pleasure defines goodness, he rejects the narrow orthodoxies of the Stoics and the classical Greek philosophers, arguing that a good life can take many different forms. A competitive athlete may thus enjoy as full a life as a compassionate physician. But the satisfactions of any life path—as Hurka recognizes—depend heavily on loving companions. Acute analysis illuminates how human relationships change and enlarge us. Religious readers may wish that Hurka had invested comparable effort in considering how faith can likewise transform life—and death. But all readers will thank Hurka for his fresh insights into the fundamental challenges everyone faces in journeying from cradle to grave. --Bryce Christensen

Review


"The book is filled with common sense and practical wisdom. As a practical 'guide to what really matters' for general readers and philosophers alike, it is a worthy modern representative of a tradition of ethical writing that goes back to Aristotle's own guide to what really matters, written for his son Nicoachus. From my point of view, that is high praise indeed."--Robert Kane, Ethics


"A stimulating read and a great way to get you focused on the right things at the beginning of the year."--Fareed Zakaria, CNN


"Thomas Hurka's The Best Things in Life is that rare thing: a philosophical work written with such simplicity and verve that it will engage beginning students, but with enough subtlety and sophistication that it will also reward careful study by specialists. An important contribution to ethics."--Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews


"Most of us know the main sorts of things that can make a life worth living: happiness and pleasure, friendship and love, accomplishment, knowledge, and virtue. But few of us could probably say very much about just what these things really are, and what, exactly, makes them so valuable. That's where Tom Hurka comes in. The Best Things in Life provides an original and fascinating philosophical guide to some of life's most important questions. For the most part, of course, it's not exactly a practical guide-it won't tell you how to find love, or how to be virtuous or successful. But it will give you a far better sense of what you should be looking for, and why."--Shelly Kagan, Yale University


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Product Details

  • Series: Philosophy in Action
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195331427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195331424
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 1 x 5.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,005,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Despite its small size, this book is jam-packed of content, organized in a very logical fashion. The book starts with the most common-sense notion of pleasure being the central part of life, and from here takes you through a fascinating journey of realization as the values of knowledge, achievements, virtues, friendships, love and death is revealed to you. Thomas Hurka is a brilliant writer who knows how to balance sophisticated concepts with enjoyable and to-the-point paragraphs.

The book is divided into several chapters each focusing on one topic. Every chapter starts with a general and broad concept, and narrows down and takes closer look at how each individual aspect of the topic can affect the quality of life. Many references to various philosophers from ancient to contemporary is used, which are also listed as further readings at the end of each chapter. Some chapters also incorporate diagrams to help with concepts, making the content of the book very accessible by those unfamiliar with the theories of academic philosophy.

The book is written from a philosophical perspective, but involves also bits from psychology, sociology, etc. It is written intended for a casual audience, which makes it a very easy and enjoyable read. If you are one of those who are looking to find various opinions on what the good life is, this book is a must read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Who doesn't want to know more about pleasure, satisfaction and happiness and how to achieve them ?

This book is part treatise, part blueprint for living a more satisfying life. It is not a step by step self help book, but there are plenty of those out there already. This is a thought provoking and dare I say"pleasurable" read. Though Hurka is an academic, this book doesn't have a text book sort of feel. But it does make you ponder what a "good life" looks like and how we all might have one.

Well done.
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Format: Hardcover
Professor of philosophy Thomas Hurka ponders what makes a good life. He writes simply, explaining philosophical concepts with understandable examples: Chocolate and sex, for instance, are good. Hurka layers his concepts, one upon another, weaving a modern and interesting - if not necessarily compelling to the reader who is not philosophically minded - report on what comprises a good life. More practical readers might prefer tips or parameters, but this isn't a self-help guide. It's more of a discussion, with points to consider and directions for reaching your own conclusions. Hurka's ability to cite Kant, Socrates and other philosophical giants without getting bogged down helps readers consider theories they might find otherwise inaccessible. getAbstract suggests this book to managers, executives, entrepreneurs and armchair philosophers seeking gentle guidance toward a more rewarding life.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very accessible introduction to some basic ideas that philosophers like to investigate. It is thought provoking and can be related to one's own life.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very interesting take on what constitutes the good life as distinct from wellbeing and happiness
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A lot more fluff and filler than substance; repetitious and belabors obvious or minor points but doesn't provide many original insights. I expected more, and better.
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