The Happiness Hypothesis: Putting Ancient Wisdom and Philosophy to the Test of Modern Science Paperback – April 1, 2007
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- Publisher : Arrow Books (April 1, 2007)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 297 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0099478897
- ISBN-13 : 978-0099478898
- Item Weight : 7.9 ounces
- Dimensions : 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #676,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Very inspirational and useful for self-knowledge.
I strongly recommend.
Top reviews from other countries
I enjoyed the initial chapters the best. Here Haidt discusses a topic discussed by the ancients e.g. love, and then informs this with modern psychological research. This is often enlightening and, in some cases, challenging. Haidt synthesises learning very well to build up a picture of what a human is, and then looks at the implications for how we can best live. Perhaps this is the nub of the book, we need to understand ourselves and then use that understanding to design a good life.
One issue I have with this is a problem of psychology. Much of it's evidence is based on percentages and it's conclusions are nomothetic - they tell us about the majority and it's not always clear that what others find important will be so for an individual. If like me you lean towards introversion, pessimism and rationalism this will not always be comfortable reading, but while I might be happier as an extrovert I fear it may be too late for me.
Which leads me to the end of the book. In the last third Haidt begins to unwind his ideas on religion. This was an unexpected turn for me and he largely leaves experimental psychology behind in favour of more sociological approaches. This is impressive in its breadth but for me leaves more questions unanswered. Haidt clearly sees the decline of religion as a major issue and extolls its benefits in brings coherence to our lives. He briefly touches on issues of why religious belief has faded but really doesn't deal with these adequately. I wondered if reading this he was very specifically writing for an American audience (some of his comments about liberals and conservatives are only applicable to the US) or if he wanted to make his book stand out with an attention grabbing idea. I found this part of the book the least convincing, which was a shame as the rest of it was a satisfying and interesting read. Definitely recommended.
Particularly disappointing are the author's views on the use of prescription drugs
rambles with no real coherent structure