- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (November 4, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195374614
- ISBN-13: 978-0195374612
- Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 1.3 x 5.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (358 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy 1st Edition
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"Irvine excels at giving a "walking tour" of the many schools of Stoic philosophy, from Greek to Roman traditions, identifying individual Stoic thinkers (many more than Seneca) and their principles and techniques, which Irvine argues are even more relevant in modern times than their own." --Philosophical Practice
"Another valuable ally in your personal morale campaign can be found in William B. Irvine's A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, which removes the grim grey mask of noble, resigned fatalism attached to the popular conception of Stoic philosophy and lets the humanity out and the air in.... It is a work of clarion clarity, and you won't have to read that far into it before the phrase 'stoic joy' ceases sounding like an oxymoron and becomes a workable proposition."--James Wolcott, Vanity Fair
"Irvine's book excels as a guide for practicing Stoics or for individuals seeking to improve that practice." --The Common Review
"Irvine's intended audience is nonphilosophers, but everyone can profit from his clear presentation on the on the benefits of using philosophical doctrines to live a meaningful life."--Library Journal
"If, however, you are skeptical that even therapy will make you happy -- if you are looking for a life philosophy -- A Guide to the Good Life is for you.... Irvine's book is more thought-provoking."--Austin American-Statesman
"He writes in clear, almost jargon-free prose that is well suited to his target audience, and maintains a cheerful tone throughout the book...that perfectly expresses the sort of rationally grounded upbeat attitude that is one of the payoffs of becoming a practicing Stoic.... I can firmly recommend Irvine's A Guide to the Good Life to anyone interested in exploring some of the ways philosophical work can be brought to bear on the ordinary problems of living.... there is a great deal of useful thinking and excellent advice to be found in it, presented in a clear, straightforward and often charming manner."--Lauren Tillinghast, Metapsychology Online Reviews
"Bill Irvine has given us a great gift: the most accessible and inviting description of modern Stoicism available. Read this book and be prepared to change your life!"--Sharon Lebell, author of Epictetus's The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness
"Well-written and so compelling, this is a rare example of a book that actually will make a difference in the lives of its readers. Whether it's coping with grief or arriving at lasting happiness, Irvine shows, with care and verve, ancient Stoic wisdom to be ever relevant and very, very helpful." --Gary Klein, author of Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions
"Never have I seen so delightful, empathetic, and supple a presentation of Stoicism as Irvine gives us here. Hardly Christian even in sensibilities, the Stoics were, none the less, wise in the ways of life, a benison Irvine exposes, and then delivers here, with panache and great acumen."--Phyllis Tickle, author of The Divine Hours
"Irvine's calm yet impassioned presentation of a Western philosophy of life that one can actually abide by and practice will be good medicine for many readers...I heartily recommend it." --The Christian Century
"Dr Irvine has used very simple language in his book. He gives a notion of modern stoicism and urges modern readers to practice stoicism." -- The Nation, Pakistan
About the Author
William B. Irvine is Professor of Philosophy at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He is the author of On Desire: Why We Want What We Want.
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Top Customer Reviews
Learning about Stoic philosophy is like finding a perfectly ripe orchard peach after living with the memory of what they taste like while making due with those tasteless grocery store articles. There's an art to living well as I see it, and this book is really helping to guide me towards a more meaningful life. William Irvine's book is a treasure of information on this philosophy, on the importance of setting a goal you won't deviate from, on what Stoic philosophy is and how to live it. Well-written, inspiring, informative. I no longer have an opportunity to study in a Stoic school, philosophy courses are focused on learning theories while the ancient schools taught pupils how to practice. This book is as close as I may ever come to one of those immersive experiences with a teacher. I'm enjoying this book, thrilled to be finding some texts here on Amazon to learn more about Stoicism written by knowledgeable authors, and feeling very optimistic about life in general again.
Many of the axioms are what they used to call (maybe still do call) "counsels of perfection": "Do not let the stressful situation unsettle your tranquility. . . " etc. (again, a paraphrase.). Granted, even the archaic examples have their replication in current society, but perhaps a more timely set of examples would be helpful. Maybe it's just gilding the lily to build an entire volume around the half-dozen tenets and recommendations of Stoicism; in any event, I don't see keeping this book handy as a go-to source of tranquility or consolation when things pile up--could have been done with some mantras or some stickers on the shaving mirror. If the notion of "recognize what you can't change and work within those sideboards" is new to you, this might be handy; otherwise, not so much.
As a Stoic, Irvine has a lot of criticism for current psychological approaches to dealing with life's challenges. He says that "the consensus view among psychological therapists is that we should stay in touch with our emotions: Rather than try to deny their existence, we should contemplate them, and rather than trying to bottle them up we should vent them." He contrasts this with the Stoic approach, which doesn't require that we bottle up our emotions, but does "help us to to take steps to prevent negative emotions and to overcome them when our attempts at prevention fail."
This criticism is valid for much of popular psychology and many psychological professionals as well. There is one psychological approach, however, that is explicitly based on Stoicism: Rational-Emotive-Behavioral Therapy (REBT). REBT was developed by Albert Ellis, who wrote many books teaching people how to identify and correct the thinking that causes them emotional upset. If you want practical advice about how to live as a Stoic, without having to read about ancient philosophers, get one of the several books by Ellis.
Irvine's book makes it all so clear, and convincingly shows one has nothing to lose and lots to gain by giving the practice of Stoicism a try. I'm not saying it's a path to perfect bliss, in fact, the author takes pains to keep his promises rational, but already I'm seeing answers show up to the perennial question of how to solve everyday problems, like how to find more joy in facing another day of difficult work among difficult people.