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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book on philosophy as an everyday tool - an invitation to a real "dream academy"
This book sets out to teach you things you certainly aren't likely to have been taught at school, or at university for that matter. It draws on the ideas of a dozen thinkers: Socrates, Epictetus, Musonius Rufus, Seneca, Epicurus, Heraclitus, Pythagoras, the Sceptics (treated as if one person - the original one was Pyrrho), Diogenes, Plato, Plutarch and Aristotle...
Published on 10 May 2012 by The Fisher Price King

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Like a dinner table chat - covers lots of ideas but none in depth
I liked this book as it was informative on many topics; but as interested layman philosopher, I felt it was more like a dinner table chat with ideas brought up and quickly, opionion rendered, then on to the next topic. At times it seemed to be on the lookout to add as many names, movements, organisations as possible to give the feel of researched ideas but the overall...
Published 7 months ago by Benito Benito


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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book on philosophy as an everyday tool - an invitation to a real "dream academy", 10 May 2012
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This book sets out to teach you things you certainly aren't likely to have been taught at school, or at university for that matter. It draws on the ideas of a dozen thinkers: Socrates, Epictetus, Musonius Rufus, Seneca, Epicurus, Heraclitus, Pythagoras, the Sceptics (treated as if one person - the original one was Pyrrho), Diogenes, Plato, Plutarch and Aristotle.

Evans says the aim is to convey "what it would be like to get a day-pass to the School of Athens". Rather than merely being dry and academic, this book constantly shows an awareness of how philosophy can be brought to bear on everyday situations. Evans has interviewed all manner of people (astronauts, soldiers, the politician Rory Stewart) and profiled plenty of others - such as a Chicago firefighter who gives classes in Stoic resilience - to see where philosophy fits (or can fit) into their lives.

The book is appealingly structured like a day's lessons or tutorials. The writing is fresh and thoughtful, pretty accessible, largely unpretentious and of a genuinely practical kind. This reminds me of Alain de Botton's Consolations of Philosophy, except that it has a much keener sense of philosophy's place and utility in the real world.

As a primer in Greek philosophy, the book works well, but is a good deal more than that - a wise, honest, original and helpful guide, which provides ample food for thought and has inspired me to do further reading (about which Evans provides a handy guide at the end of the book).

Highly recommended.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 11 May 2012
This is a wise, humane and often inspirational book. Though it tackles big and difficult questions - why are we here? how can we be happy? - it does so in such a clear and engaging way that it's always enjoyable and often gripping reading. Evans's subject is ancient Greek philosophy, but what he seeks in this philosophy isn't abstract truth but a practical, useful "medicine for the soul" that can help people exert more control over their emotions, feel better about themselves and lead happier and more flourishing lives. He shows that the central tenets of Greek moral philosophy - that we can know ourselves, change ourselves and establish better, healthier habits of thinking and acting - now form the basis of modern Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and in a series of compelling interviews threaded through the book he talks to people around the world of very different backgrounds whose lives were changed by an encounter with a particular philosopher or set of ideas. The book is organized as a series of lessons on the major Greek philosophers, and I think most readers will find Evans a congenial and stimulating instructor. I learned a great deal from it - it made me think hard about the way I live my life and what I could do to make myself a happier, saner person. Highly recommended!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strangely uninspirational, 30 Mar 2013
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Petrolhead (Hong Kong) - See all my reviews
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For all the reviews and blurbs telling you what an inspirational, life altering book this is, I must add a note of dissent: it actually makes it quite apparent that none of the philosophers (at least the ancient Greek ones who are the focus of this book) have anything useful to tell the vast majority of us about how to live our lives. It turns out that in the modern world, many of the schools of thought sampled by Evans have translated into quackery, cults, new age groupthink, anti-globalisation activism and even schools where pupils were physically abused.

The book is very fluent, readable and amusing, but Evans is strangely muted in his criticism, and tends to say that a certain strand of philosophy doesn't appeal to him, without savaging its purported modern adherents. I came away from it rather relieved that there are not more people trying to steer a course through life using ancient Greek thinking as a guide.

However, I really did enjoy the rapid ride through different schools of philosophy and, while I suspect this kind of 'pop wisdom' has left out vast amounts of what the ancients actually said, it was a darn sight easier zimmimg through this book than I imagine it would be to get your head around the original texts.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Like a dinner table chat - covers lots of ideas but none in depth, 4 Feb 2014
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I liked this book as it was informative on many topics; but as interested layman philosopher, I felt it was more like a dinner table chat with ideas brought up and quickly, opionion rendered, then on to the next topic. At times it seemed to be on the lookout to add as many names, movements, organisations as possible to give the feel of researched ideas but the overall tone was like something from a sunday magazine, like a stocking filler. It was informative and I enjoyed, it, but for me a mark of a good book is if I want to read it again, or at least go through my Kindle highlights. I did not have the urge with this.

If you are keen on a pratical guide to the stoic portion I'd recommend William Irvine's A Gude To The Good Life: he is an academic so the writing is not as lucid as Jules, but there are more concrete, solid tips. Jules's book left me with a taster of everything, but if I were to make something of it, I'd have to research those areas of interest further.

One thing that did bother me was that the book made references, say to Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, but the reference at the back did not give the exact quoattion. So I know he quoted the book but can't look it up myself.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy, 19 July 2012
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I found this book most enjoyable. I knew relatively little about Ancient Greek philosophy but now feel quite informed on the subject. The book is rooted in the practice of philosophy, citing many interesting cases where people have been helped to overcome, or cope with difficulties, through using the ideas of the ancient philosophers. Consequently, it's packed with great advice and anecdotes, such as realising and accepting what is beyond our control, whilst taking responsibility for that which is in our control. And the story of Diogenes living in a barrel in Athens, being offered anything he desired by Alexander the Great, he replied by asking that he stop blocking the sun. One thing I would say, is that "ordinary" people are not given much consideration (the extraordinary types adopt the approaches), however, it non-the-less serves as an exemplum to model a good life. I also liked the way he linked his discussions to modern day psychology. All in all, a very good read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About as good a manual for life as you're likely to get., 28 Jun 2012
To call this book a self-help book would be an insult to the author - it is so very much more. I don't believe any book of this genre truly answers the questions that most readers are looking for. However, Jules Evans's guided tour through the wisdom of the ancient greeks does a brilliant job of priming the mind with different strains of thinking, provoking the reader to examine for himself the different approaches to answering those questions that at some point in our lives we probably all ask ourselves. The author compares and contrasts brilliantly the stoics, the sceptics, the epicureans and the pythagoreans amongst others. The book seems to draw all the different themes together as it approaches the conclusion with a more detailed convergence on Plato, Aristotle and finally Socrates.

This book is an easy read but it took me a long time to finish because I was constantly sloping off to the internet to find out more about the characters, the texts and the references that so richly add to the reading experience - I even made notes (yikes)! Furthermore, the author seemlessly weaves into the text modern day, real-life examples of a diverse group of individuals and organisations that illustrate present day manifestations of the various philosophical themes. He also refers frequently and understatedly to his own travails with depression which he has surely overcome (I didn't know it but cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has its roots in philosophy).

I have long found philosophy a turn-off but this book has turned this view on its head. It is elegantly written in plain language but I found the content to be hugely stimulating. I will definitely read the book again because there are just too many ideas and concepts in it that struck a chord with me that can be properly digested in one reading. I suspect it may become somewhat of a manual for me. It is stuffed with suggestions for further reading and resources that I will certainly pursue in due course. This really was an excellent read and I cannot recommend it highly enough. A candidate for the apocryphal Amazon 6th star !!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Praise is worthless but...., 7 Sep 2012
By 
Gejohnson "Author" (Lodon) - See all my reviews
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Bigging up this book won't make it any better, as all of you trainee philosphers out there will know, but it may help someone in making the right decision to buy it.

I thought this book was excellent for the following reasons:-

1. It was well written and a page turner.

2. It taught me a lot of things I didn't know.

3. It reminded me of bits of philosophy I'd forgotten, which is important if you want it to hand everyday.

4. It had a lightness of touch and a structure which allowed you to dip in and out. It was funny.

5. It's usefullness is as an intro to philosophy - a kind of 'idiots guide' to the subject. Which is always what's needed to bring a lofty subject down to earth.

6. The way to it draws relationships between modern therapies such as CBT and stoicism, and psychiatry and other systems and philosophy is useful. It made me less sceptical of some 'self-help' approaches.

7. It does what it says on the tin - it's a manual for getting through the day.

8. I'm sure there's lots more I could say but my memory has gone today.

Well worth the effort.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Roadmap for life, 25 Nov 2012
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Derrick Singleton (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
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I came to this book after reading 'A guide to the good life' by William Irvine. I've always been interested in Eastern Philosophy but have never read anything about Greek / Roman philosophy until reading these books. I found they helped to frame ways in which some of my own thought processes work and helped set out a roadmap of practise to play around with and develop these ideas. I've since signed up for a free philosophy course next year which was promoted on Jules Evans website and am taking part in the Stoic week, set up by Exeter University. It's funny how these ideas seem to be gathering momentum and becoming more mainstream now, perhaps as a consequence to the way modern life is going and the realisation that having what we want doesn't mean we will be happy or be satisfied with life.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy for Life, 11 Sep 2012
As a working mum of teenagers, I am coming to a point in life where at last I have time to put my head above the laundry basket and wonder about the meaning of life, in a 'What is the stars?' kind of way. Hearing Jules Evans in a radio interview awakened my interest - he made philosophy sound accessible to ordinary people, and having gone to hear him in person, I decided this was a book I had to have. I loved the overview of all the different schools of philosophy,the blend of modern social commentary and autobiographical snippets, and it struck me that this might be a good read for the university student who is considering taking philosophy as a subject(Note to daughter).
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening, 31 May 2012
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Having never delved into Philosophy, I found this to be an illuminating and lucid introduction into the many schools of thought founded by the ancients. Evans highlights the most influential figures from the various different movements such as the Stoics, Sceptics and Mystics. He ingrains their relevance in modern society through entertaining and accessible anecdotes. The contents are laid out as if following a day of education and this frame emphasises how in order to reap the benefits from the lessons in this book you must revisit and revise the teachings. Evans also generously provides a myriad of further reading at the end of the book, stemming from the knowledge he clarifies in his agreeable and knowledgeable voice. If you are curious about Philosophy and need a primer to set you up for further reading, you will find an abundance of wisdom in this book.
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Philosophy for Life: And other dangerous situations
Philosophy for Life: And other dangerous situations by Jules Evans (Paperback - 2 May 2013)
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