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4.7 out of 5 stars
Philosophy for Life: And other dangerous situations
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 August 2012
This is the most interesting, entertaining and satisfying book I have read in many years. I came to the subject of philosophy from a complete layperson background, having my first taste of the concepts through self help books and wanting to try and get to the root source of this type of thinking (as it turns out, CBT has many roots in ancient philosophy) purely on the basis of personal interest rather than an academic need.

The writing style is clear and engaging it is a superbly structured look at many different areas of philosophy and one that routinely spans 2000BC to the present day. I particularly liked the way the author gave his own opinions of various things in a very mature and objective way but usually only at the end of each section once all the key points had been covered.

I've learned so much from this book about well known names such as Aristotle and Socrates, which before reading this were just names from some high brow and unreachable discipline called philosophy. The ideas put forward by all the people in this book are hugely stimulating and well presented here. It has totally broken down the barriers (in my mind) to the whole subject.

The only thing missing I think is a glossary of some of the terms used. There was a tendency at times to explain a concept then drop back into the jargon. I'm still in the dark as to what some of the colourful terms mean having never studied politics, economics or philosophy and not having a university background. Yes, I can (and did) Google them, but for a book intending to be accessible to anyone, I would have preferred this to explain it all, in the words of the author.

However there is - tongue in cheek - a dark side to this book! I had my "wish list" on Amazon open almost the whole time I was reading this book, adding book after book - this book is just the start, it opens so many doors, gives you so many avenues of further reading and investigation to go down. And really what more can you ask from a book? But this is probably going to cost me quite a lot of money in the long term now I have a new-found thirst for knowledge.

Engaging from start to finish, thought provoking, possibly even life changing. Well done Jules Evans.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 25 November 2012
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
on 31 May 2012
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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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 11 September 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2014
A well written and entertaining intro into the main Greek schools combined with an attempt to assess their relevance to today's modern world. This is not an academic study, and gets a little obsessed with the impact of cognitive behavioural therapy of which he is a huge fan (apparently it is based on stoicism). Jules Evans is an interesting chap and has produced a rather large synopsis of the book on his website if you are unsure if this book is for you. It has certainly inspired me to delve deeper into Seneca and Plutarch. A recommended read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 30 March 2013
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2015
I read this book after reading Ade Edmonsons micro-review in The Week. It is a remarkable work in so many ways. After a life-time reading philosophy it has caused me to reassess much of what I thought valid and has inspired me to enrol on an OU degree course in Philosophy and Psychology. How much more profound effect can a book have? Everybody ought to read this book.
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on 4 June 2015
Many books claim to ' change your life' but this one, beautifully written and utterly engaging , can.
Knowing virtually nothing about philosophy , I underwent what could only be described as a 'Pauline conversion' as I learned that the wisdom of the ancient world is the key to surviving and thriving today.
Evans has a rare gift in that his writing style is robust ( enough for the intellectual) but simple and uncomplicated so that anyone who is simply curious can follow.
It isn't just that he explains the foundations and evolution of philosophy which is interesting enough in itself, he also describes how when applied to modern life, this wisdom can be a lodestar . From CBT in psycotherapy to managing to be resilient to torture by the enemy in war situations, people have put philosophy into practice with extraordinary results . I now want to learn more, much more and although I know from this book that I don't want to be a Stoic, I'm brushing up on my Socrates, Plato , Aristotle et al on a daily basis
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2015
This is a wonderful and insightful book, it is one of my favourite books of all time, and it has been a huge help with my depression, really made me think, and look at other philosophy in a new light, which is also helping me take control of my thoughts, and life again.

A must read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 October 2013
I bought this book after listening to Jules on a radio 4 programme....he was discussing CBT and how it was rooted in ancient philosophy. I can't recommend this book highly enough and since then I have checked out Jules' website and subscribe to his emails which are brilliant too.
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