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The Conquest of Happiness Reissue Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
1. Although a few of the references are dated because the book was written in 1930, all of the ideas are still perfectly relevant.
2. This is not a book of formal philosophy; more of introspection. Of course Russel introspected with the same brilliant and critical mind that he used to contribute to mathematics and philosophy. But this is not rigorous, apologetic or systematic. Actually, it's more like gentle advice. And quite reasonable.
I'd like to quote a few passages that I found thought-provoking, to give a reader a sense of what to expect if you purchase and read this book:
p. 27, "[T]o be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness."
p. 29, "The habit of looking to the future and thinking that the whole meaning of the present lies in what it will bring forth is a pernicious one. There can be no value in the whole unless there is value in the parts."
p. 43, "I do not deny that the feeling of success makes it easier to enjoy life.... Nor do I deny that money, up to a certain point, is very capable of increasing happiness. What I do maintain is that success can only be one ingredient in happiness, and is too dearly purchased if all the other ingredients have been sacrificed to obtain it."
p. 74, "The essentials of human happiness are simple, so simple that sophisticated people cannot bring themselves to what it is that they really lack."
p. 94, "[R]emember that your motives are not always as altruistic as they seem to yourself... don't overestimate your own merits... don't expect others to take as much interest in you as you do in yourself."
p.Read more ›
This book is about life. Russell uses his analytic empiricism to discuss typically pop-psychological issues: Boredom, Excitement, Envy, Sin, Persecution, Public Opinion, Zest, etc. But his approach, dated back in time, is refreshingly new and helpful in the present. Indeed, Russell shows himself redolent in wisdom, the true aim of philosophy, and tackles issues that are at the core of what constitutes happiness and its opposites.
Because Russell appeals to his empirical views analytically arrived, there is a sense of wonderment and awe at such simple solutions to difficult problems in modern life. These solutions aren't dressed in pop-ism, but in a perennial philosophy that takes wisdom, not pop-up tapes of life, seriously.
The Atlantic Monthly claimed this book to be a "primer of self-regeneration . . . a most excellent book." This praise is not unwarranted, and given that commonsense is the center of the whole enterprise, its wisdom will endure not only when it was written in the 1920s, but today, and tomorrow.
Russell divides the book into two parts (essentially). One is devoted to the causes of unhappiness, with chapters on persecution mania, fear, envy, boredom and excitement, fatigue, the sense of sin, and fear of public opinion, among others. I found the chapter on fear to be the most interesting, although they all were fascinating. In chapter 9, Fear of Public Opinion, Russell alleges that many people drive themselves to unhappiness by trying to conform to others and/or being afraid of opprobrium from friends, family, or co-workers. Of course, the chapter itself is much better than my terse summary.
The next part of the book is devoted to the causes of happiness, with chpaters on: zest, affection, family, work, hobbies, and effort. I found this part to be of lower quality than the first. If one works backward from Russell's causes of unhappiness, than one would come across interesting ways of finding happiness. In others words, if you discovered that you were submerged in unbearable (perhaps religious) guilt all the time, than perhaps some rationalization would help. For example, let's say you're a woman, you've been raped, and you have an abortion. You are under a tremendous amount of guilt because you happen to be a conservative (theologically) Baptist. What do you do about your religious guilt, which is ruining your life?
I think Russell should've devoted a section to his causes of happiness part of the book to getting out of the causes of unhappiness.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For a guy who was deemed unfit to teach in the United States, Russell offers a sane, practical guide for how to live a fulfilling life by embracing the here now, not by clinging to... Read morePublished 10 hours ago by James Thalman
The author analyzes the various causes of happiness and unhappiness, and outlines a way to increase happiness. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Purple Bacteria
Some of his opinions on society were a little embarrassing and you could see he was born well-off in his talk about servants. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mike Monje
What a great piece of essay about life. This is my second read and enjoyed more than the first. He's a master of depicting human naturePublished 4 months ago by Roberto Lopez C.
I liked the simplicity of the ideas and how it reflected my own life story.
I recommend the book to anybody to look at philosophy for inspiration