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How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas That Matter Most Paperback – December 1, 2009

4.0 out of 5 stars 25 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A warmhearted introduction to philosophy that blends Eastern and Western intellectual traditions with specific exercises to enhance the reader's ability to think philosophically for herself. Over the course of 10 topics ranging from Simplicity to Joy, and with a decided emphasis on self-improvement, McCarty (Little Big Minds) discusses a wide variety of philosophers, ranging from such canonical figures as Plato and Sartre to those—like Charlotte Joko-Beck—who sit closer to the New Age end of the spectrum. Throughout, the author emphasizes the ability of active reflection to improve lives, by promoting open-mindedness, the awareness of cultural diversity, social understanding and the ability to recognize priorities. Though the book contains little that is not already common currency among self-help manuals, its focus on philosophizing as a group activity and on the everyday practice of thinking, supplemented by each chapter's collection of exercises centered around music, poetry and the arts, taken together provide a pleasantly tangible approach to understanding how notions like tolerance, flexibility and perspective can enrich our busy lives. (Dec.)
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"Self-help always becomes even more fascinating when it's backed by a little scholarship. In 'How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: 10 Ideas That Matter Most,' Marietta McCarty assistant professor of philosophy at Piedmont Virginia Community College and best-selling author of 'Little Big Minds: Sharing Philosophy with Kids' reveals how studying the greatest thinkers of our time can change your life for the better.

McCarty divides her book into 10 chapters, each dealing with one of the big ideas she feels are necessary for a good life: simplicity, communication, perspective, flexibility, empathy, individuality, belonging, serenity, possibility, and joy. Full of personal anecdotes, each chapter explores the topic at hand with the help of two or more philosophers.

For instance, when it comes to perspective, you can broaden yours by taking a tip from Mary Wollstonecraft, who saw past the mores of her society and refused to limit herself to conventional women's roles. Instead of being wary of change, you can learn to be flexible, embracing the new and living in the now as Alan Watts advised.

McCarty is spirited and funny, and she gives you help in implementing all you're learning by providing thoughtful discussion questions, and even a little homework under amusing topic headlines like Listen and Hum, Recite and Write, Read and Talk, Watch and Reflect, and Get Up and Do. Want to find serenity in your life? Get out and garden. Need a new appreciation of joy? Go to a place 'that makes your heart sing' or listen to Vivaldi's 'The Four Seasons' to reflect on how each season is musically exhilarating.

McCarty's devotion to philosophy is obvious, and her tone is so conversational that it's nearly impossible not to get enthusiastic too. 'Entertaining new ideas can transform lifestyles' she says, and this book - push-ups for your mind - most definitely makes you see and understand your world and yourself differently."
- Carolyn Leavitt, Boston Sunday Globe

"If your book club likes to talk about ideas more than plotlines, this optimistic and pragmatic how-to should be next on your list. In each of 10 chapters, McCarty explains a 'big idea,' such as Flexibility or Possibility, then offers discussion questions and meditative exercises (spend time with water to understand Serenity). The 4 philosophers she quotes and the artists whose works she urges you to sample are surprisingly diverse. Cat Power has as much to offer as Camus. McCarty's enthusiasm for human achievement and potential is contagious. She encourages fun and sociable self- improvement-enlightenment for the yoga-averse."
- Sonya Sobieski, Psychology Today

Product details

  • Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
  • Paperback : 330 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1585427462
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1585427468
  • Product Dimensions : 5.53 x 0.94 x 8.29 inches
  • Publisher : TarcherPerigee; Original Edition (December 1, 2009)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.0 out of 5 stars 25 ratings