on 30 November 2010
This is a really excellent introduction to what philosophy is all about. Hadot gets to the heart of subject and so creates a challenge, for everyone who reads this book - to either view the subject as an academic exercise in the creation of complex arguments or, alternatively, to use the subject to understand one's self.
on 27 September 2007
This is the seminal work of the influential historian of philosophy Pierre Hadot, including his inaugural lecture as professor at the collège de France.
Hadot has a peculiar philosophical trajectory: he started working on Wittgenstein shortly after the war, and later in life was a crucial influence on the later work of Foucault.
These chapters portray for us the distinctive philosophical practises of various key thinkers in the European tradition, from Lucretius to Goethe, Socrates to Foucault. Hadot wants to get us away from the fashionable blank refusal to compare thinkers in radically different epochs by asking the question: what do they do? And his answers yield remarkable results.
Frustratingly suggestive, brilliantly erudite, and daringly broad, these pieces will not fail to entertain.
Probably the most significant problem, though, is that flagged by Foucault: it may be true that Goethe and his colleagues are the inheritors of the asceticism of late antiquity. But it is also true that ascetic techniques are to be found in the state disciplinary apparatus of their time.
Philosophy as a way of life is not an unambiguous project.