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A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by [Irvine, William B.]
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A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy 1st , Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Review

regardless of what one thinks of Stoicism, one can still applaud a book that seeks to breathe new life into the idea of philosophy as a reflection on and practical guide to the way we live. (Emrys Westacott, The Philosopher's Magazine)

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)

Dr. Irvine has used very simple language in his book. He gives a notion of modern stoicism and urges modern readers to practice stoicism. (Sareer Ahmad, The Nation (Pakistan))

About the Author

William B. Irvine is Professor of Philosophy at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He is the author of On Desire: Why We Want What We Want.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1016 KB
  • Print Length: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (4 Nov. 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0040JHNQG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #11,369 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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 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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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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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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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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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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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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Format: Hardcover
Academic life often leads people in unexpected directions. William Irvine is Professor of Philosophy at Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio. After receiving his PhD from UCLA in 1980, Irvine taught and practiced analytic philosophy for many years before gradually losing interest in it as overly technical and removed from life. Irvine looked for other philosophical and personal options and came close to adopting a Zen Buddhist practice. He ultimately rejected Zen because it did not fit the analytic quality of his mind. Irvine then began a serious study of the Greek and Roman stoics, philosophers he never had to read during his years of philosophical study. The result was his book "On Desire: Why We Want what we Want" (2006) followed by this book, "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy" (2008) in which Irvine articulates a comtemporary stoic philosophy.

Irvine writes for the educated lay reader rather than for academic philosophers. He argues that an important task of philosophy is to help individuals form a "philosophy of life" that gives meaning and purpose. Without a philosophy of life, Irvine argues, "there is danger that you will mislive-- that despite all your activity, despite all the pleasant diversion you might have enjoyed while alive, you will end up living a bad life. There is, in other words, a danger that when you are on your deathbed, you will look back and realize that you wasted your one chance at living. Instead of spending your lfie pursuing something genuinely valuable, you squandered it because you allowed yourself to be distracted by the various baubles life has to offer."

Besides helping a person to discover his or her "grand goal in living", philosophy also has the task of pointing out a path or strategy for realzing the goal.
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