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The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics (Princeton Classics) Paperback – 26 Jul 2009
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Martha C. Nussbaum, Recipient of the 2012 Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences
Nussbaum writes as an advocate [of the Hellenistic philosophers], though not an uncritical one, for even while she admires the seriousness and subtlety with which these philosophers analyze the passions, she allows that there is an unresolvable conflict between the detachment and the intense engagement entailed by their philosophies. The sense that these philosophers still matter, that we can wrangle with them and learn from them, is invigorating.---Richard Jenkyns, New York Times Book Review
Few modern books have done as much as this one promises to do in raising the profile of Hellenistic philosophy. It is constantly gripping and absorbing, written with rare eloquence and containing long stretches of almost lyrical intensity. A literary as well as a philosophical tour de force.---David Sedley, Times Literary Supplement
By turns wise and witty, silly and Socratic, critical and compassionate, Nussbaum proves to be an extraordinarily addictive literary companion.... This is a book to live with.---Peter Green, New Republic
[T]his is a wonderful book, of interest to scholars of ancient philosophy, but also to those interested in medical philosophy and philosophy of mind. It would also be of great interest to those interested in the conception of philosophy as therapy that has grown from studies on Wittgenstein. I can heartily recommend it.---Michael Gillan Peckitt, Metapsychology Online Reviews
The Epicureans, Skeptics, and Stoics practiced philosophy not as a detached intellectual discipline, but as a worldly art of grappling with issues of daily and urgent human significance: the fear of death, love and sexuality, anger and aggression. Like medicine, philosophy to them was a rigorous science aimed both at understanding and at producing the flourishing of human life. In this engaging book, Martha Nussbaum examines texts of philosophers committed to a therapeutic paradigm - including Epicurus, Lucretius, Sextus Empiricus, Chrysippus, and Seneca - and recovers a valuable source for our moral and political thought today. This edition features a new introduction by Nussbaum, in which she revisits the themes of this now classic work.See all Product description
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Nussbaum's central argument is that these philosophies were primarily therapies; specifically cures for emotional disorders brought on by false reasoning. She explores this medical metaphor throughout the book, giving the chapters whimsical titles such as "Epicurean Surgery" and "Stoic Tonics". This approach enables her to point out common features of the philosophical schools as well as identifying their different approaches.
I would recommend this book both to academics and to general readers who wish to know more about the Western philosophical tradition.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I wanted to point out one detail relevant to potential buyers. The 2009 edition is not too different from the earlier 1994/5 edition. In the 2009 edition Nussbaum includes a 8 page preface and a 2 page bibliography of relevant material she has written since then (most notably Upheavals of Thought).
If you are wavering between the earlier edition and the 2009 edition and if the earlier edition is significantly cheaper, I would opt for the earlier edition.