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A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy
 
 

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy [Kindle Edition]

William B. Irvine
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Review

All in all Irvine does a fine job in offering his 'resolutely practcal' brand of Stoicism to a popular audience. His citation of the original sources is effective and stimulating of interest. His tone is just right one for the popular audience he wishes to reach. (Walter M. Roberts III, Bryn Mawr Classical Review )

Product Description

One of the great fears many of us face is that despite all our effort and striving, we will discover at the end that we have wasted our life. In A Guide to the Good Life, William B. Irvine plumbs the wisdom of Stoic philosophy, one of the most popular and successful schools of thought in ancient Rome, and shows how its insight and advice are still remarkably applicable to modern lives.
In A Guide to the Good Life, Irvine offers a refreshing presentation of Stoicism, showing how this ancient philosophy can still direct us toward a better life. Using the psychological insights and the practical techniques of the Stoics, Irvine offers a roadmap for anyone seeking to avoid the feelings of chronic dissatisfaction that plague so many of us. Irvine looks at various Stoic techniques for attaining tranquility and shows how to put these techniques to work in our own life. As he does so, he describes his own experiences practicing Stoicism and offers valuable first-hand advice for anyone wishing to live better by following in the footsteps of these ancient philosophers. Readers learn how to minimize worry, how to let go of the past and focus our efforts on the things we can control, and how to deal with insults, grief, old age, and the distracting temptations of fame and fortune. We learn from Marcus Aurelius the importance of prizing only things of true value, and from Epictetus we learn how to be more content with what we have.
Finally, A Guide to the Good Life shows readers how to become thoughtful observers of their own lives. If we watch ourselves as we go about our daily business and later reflect on what we saw, we can better identify the sources of distress and eventually avoid that pain in our life. By doing this, the Stoics thought, we can hope to attain a truly joyful life.

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More About the Author


William B. Irvine is professor of philosophy at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. For more on his life and writings, visit his author website at WilliamBIrvine.com.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Good As It Gets 2 Dec 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I studied philosophy at university, and Irvine stands out amongst professional philosophers as a man who manages to get his message across with elegant simplicity. This book is not only easy to understand; he manages to make stoicism extremely relevant to modern concerns. It's hard to imagine how someone who could not benefit from reading this book. No matter how awful life seems, stoicism has something to offer.

I find many things of value in buddhism, but balk at the religious worship associated with it. Stoicism has much to offer westerners drawn to buddhism. Friends who have read widely around stoicism after reading this book tell me that their appreciation for Irvine's book was even greater the more they read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Change your life 11 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a superb book - in fact, it is inspirational. It is not only an introduction to Stoicism, but is also a clear, engaging and well written translation of Stoic ethics into a 21st century context. Some critics argue that Irvine leaves out Stoic logic, simplifies ideas etc, but that misses the point entirely. This is not an academic text - if it was, it would not be able to achieve what it sets out to achieve. If you are looking for 'tranquility', if you are searching for a 'philosophy for life', then this is a place to start. I, for one, found it life-changing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Joy to read 13 Nov 2010
Format:Hardcover
I like the way that the author introduces this as a philosophy for modern life and manages to introduce the key concepts in a way that is meaningful for life in the twenty-first century. As an atheist, I like the way that the author approaches the question of the relationship between god and the Stoics and shows that Stoicism is robust enough to cope with change, unlike Christianity, and is capapble of providing answers for honest people who are seeking tranquilty as their main goal as they lead a good life without god. I appreciate how well the author explains that it is beneficial for us to find a tranquil life by not allowing ourselves to become overwhelmed by negative emotions even though in evolutionary terms these emotions may be perfectly natural but incompatible with reason and rational thought. I enjoyed the explanation of the positive aspects of negative visualisation and I am putting this into practice in my life. All in all, a perfect introductory handbook to life, Stoicism and a meaningful and insightful read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars " More like wrestling than dancing" 26 May 2012
By Corax
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"More like wrestling than dancing"

This was how Marcus Aurelius, one of the most famous stoic philosophers described life, and it was Stoicism he relied upon to face his own existence.

I have read Marcus Aurelius's Meditations and found some of his stoic comments puzzling and sometimes downright strange.

Like a lot of people I thought I knew what Stoicism meant and would never have considered Stoicism and joy in the same sentence. So I borrowed this book through the library, not knowing what to expect. It totally exceeded my expectations: for me it was an ideal introductory guide to some of the big names in Stoic philosophy, together with the techniques to apply it to modern life (as explained by other reviewers). I particularly liked the way he explained how it could still be used by those who did not believe any deity, classical or Christian; this made it seem a practice that has relevance today.

Some reviewers argue that Irvine has misinterpreted some aspects of the philosophy. In his defence, Irvine is not saying that his interpretation is the only one and he accepts that certain aspects have been omitted by him. In my view, this book is not a history of Stoicism but rather one man's interpretation of it and recommendations of the ways it can still be used now. He does also provide a "Stoic Reading Program" and recommends that anyone interested should read the original texts of Seneca, Epictetus and Musonius Rufus.

This is one of the best books I have read for some time; I enjoyed it so much that I downloaded it to my Kindle so that I can re-read it.

Thank you Mr Irvine for a lovely thoughtful book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By DJ
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Easy to read. Not a long book. It is has short chapters and sections that can be read easily..put down then pick it up. this is a good book for an intelligent and informed introductioin. Written by a philospher who is living the stoic life, and recognises the benefits and its limitations. comparisons made with religion and eastern philosphies. An enjoyable read. It is a good introduction for the ordinairy person or even an academic because of its emphasis on the pragmatic individual use.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guide to the good life... 14 Sep 2009
Format:Hardcover
A very interesting and readable book that sums up the work of a number of greek philosophers about how to lead a happy and fulfilling life. Clearly structured and with a lot of every day examples. A must-read for people who are looking for more in life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting alternative to hedonism 30 Oct 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very clear and informative writing.

It hit the spot with me. I am a 55 year old man coming to terms with losing someone dear to me and living on my own. I found the ideas in this book heartening and inspiring.

Bravo Mr. Irvine. You have written an excellent book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book should change your life 23 Oct 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm not one for self help books, however after stumbling across the Stoic philosophy in Tom Wolfe's A Man In Full I searched out any books which could shed some light on this world view.

A Guide to the Good Life is a marvellous book, which manages to intertwine the history of the Stoics into a modern day manual for living.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Guide to the Good life.
If you seek tranquility and satisfaction with life, then this book is for you. The book is an excellent introduction to Stoicism and is a wonderful guide to practicing stoicism in... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Amina Ado
5.0 out of 5 stars I have found my guide to the good life
This book is going to be somewhat akin to Marmite that Great British breakfast spread that people either love or dislike. I found myself drawn into the theme. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Andrew Renals
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book that puts forward Stoicism in a way that's useful for modern...
I found this book very useful and informative. So previous reviewers have given it a low score because it doesn't stick 100% to historical Stoicism. Read more
Published 4 months ago by David
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new
As it was written by an academic, I had expected this book to be more interesting than a regular self-help book. I was a little disappointed.
Published 4 months ago by Jennifer
2.0 out of 5 stars ITS NOT THE BOOK I THOUGHT IT WAS
ITS NOT THE BOOK I THOUGHT IT WAS IT IS A STUDY ON The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy AND IT GETS PRITY BORING AFTER TWO CHAPTERS I SOLD BOOK AT BOOTFAIR FOR 20P
Published 4 months ago by rachel
5.0 out of 5 stars All the hard work is done for you.
Reading the original Stoic material from Seneca or Epictetus can be very hard going.. William Irvine has done most of the hard work for you and his book is very readable. Read more
Published 4 months ago by John Bramwell
3.0 out of 5 stars A Guide to the Good Life
This book will appeal to those seriously interested in Stoicism who, as I did, will persist despite its rather simplistic style. Read more
Published 4 months ago by M. McClure
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent guide
This is a well written and inspiring practical handbook on Stoic philosophy. A self help manual which makes sense and, in contrast to so many books in this genre is realistic and... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dr. P. Cramer
5.0 out of 5 stars Stoics and stoicism
Very highly recommended. The author found the Stoics via Tom Wolfe's 'Man in Full', which was were I first heard of them. Fantastic wisdom for overcoming life's slings & arrows. Read more
Published 6 months ago by EagerReader
1.0 out of 5 stars Overwritten
Repetitive, humorless, short on detail, and oddly self-regarding. Author seems to think taking the bus, riding a bike to work and buying second hand clothes are hardships.
Published 6 months ago by Matthew Fox
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