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Everything Has Two Handles: The Stoic's Guide to the Art of Living 1St Edition Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0761839514
ISBN-10: 0761839518
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Editorial Reviews

Review

The book Everything Has Two Handles by Ronald Pies presents itself as an accessible introduction into Stoicism, for the 'intelligent layperson that wants to live well,' and Pies skillfully achieves this end....It is a book that can easily be reread or referenced for continued application and guidance. The reader is not left overwhelmed but is offered a clear understanding. (Philosophical Practice, October 2008)

In this breathtaking tour of ancient wisdom, Ron Pies, M.D., makes the philosophy of the Stoics come alive for the modern reader. Touching on our most urgent contemporary problems―the meaning of happiness, the role of pleasure, the importance of wisdom, friendship, balance, harmony, and anger―the Stoics provide a surprisingly fresh and instructive set of principles about how to live. With numerous examples from the world's philosophical and religious traditions, as well as vignettes about people struggling to understand their lives in the 21st century, Pies has created a guide filled with warmth, clear thinking, strong values, and the deep pleasure that comes from our recognition of the enduring truths. (Richard M. Berlin, M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School; poet and columnist Psychiatric Times)

About the Author

Ronald Pies, M.D. is Professor of Psychiatry and Lecturer on Bioethics and Humanities at S.U.N.Y. Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, N.Y.; and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Psychiatric Times. Dr. Pies is the author of several psychiatric textbooks, and a guide to psychotherapy for the general public (A Consumer's Guide to Choosing the Right Psychotherapist, Jason Aronson, 1997). Dr. Pies is also a published poet (Creeping Thyme, Brandylane) and the author of a collection of short stories (Zimmerman's Tefillin, PublishAmerica). He lives with his wife, Nancy Butters MSW, near Boston.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 74 pages
  • Publisher: Hamilton Books; 1St Edition edition (March 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0761839518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761839514
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,221,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Stephen J. Pantani on May 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
Dr. Pies has accomplished something quite wonderful in "Everything Has Two Handles": he has knitted together ancient wisdom drawn from many traditions - Western and Eastern - and created a text that speaks familiarly and comfortingly to our times. The loom on which he weaves his fabric has two main supports: the teachings of the ancient Stoics and the author's own voice, which is at once calm, reassuring, sensible and also funny. Pies creates in this book a "meeting place" of voices, a text that illustrates the very virtues it enjoins us to practice (and he does mean practice, as in the old joke: "How do I get to Carnegie Hall?"). Here voices of the classical Stoics (prominently Marcus Aurelius and Seneca) mix happily with those of our American contemporaries (people dealing with the trials of making a living, enduring sickness and coping with the debility and death of loved ones); the sounds of Buddhist sages, Talmudic scholars and mediaeval Christians blend to form a chorus. And indeed it is a chorus - not a hodge-podge or a replay of the lethal competition of rival truth-claims that has made a charnel house of history. And how is this possible? Because Pies - with a light and humorous touch - shows us how alike these voices really are, how they do indeed speak shared truths in their different idioms. Both the author's voice and the teachings of the Stoics urge on us a kind of modesty about ourselves, a self-discipline that insists that we have an ethical obligation to try to do our best yet also acknowledges that we will learn largely from our failures.Read more ›
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I have never before written a review on Amazon, but this little book is truly remarkable. Stoicism has gotten an unfair reputation in the modern world for being a system that represses all feelings to the detriment of the practitioner. In fact Stoicism is a much more humane and realistic system, as Dr. Ronald Pies illustrates in a clear and concise manner. Upon receiving this book, I read it once through and then immediately again more carefully, highlighting points with a highlighter.

Quotes from Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius and others demonstrate wisdom about human strengths and shortcomings that has transcended centuries. Although another reader complained about the references to Jewish philosophers, I very much enjoyed Pies including their words, especially when they provided a welcome contrast to the Stoics' views on when and how anger can be appropriately expressed. Personally, I think Pies would have been remiss if he had not included Jewish insight. Jewish philosophy reflects knowledge gained by surviving and thriving despite a long history of persecution. To be fair, Pies also includes several references to other religions, most notably referring to Buddhist wisdom at several points. That said, I highly recommend Everything has Two Handles as a primer that allows the reader to understand how Stoicism can be applied to the life of a modern reader.
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This book is short and very easy to read- you don't need any formal philosophy education to understand or benefit from it. I found the book to be extremely helpful-- a real life changer. I have applied much of what i learned and found it to lower my daily stress level. I highly recommend it!
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