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If you're facing a dilemma -- whether it's handling a relationship, living ethically, dealing with a career change, or finding meaning in life -- the world's most important thinkers from centuries past will help guide you toward a solution compatible with your individual beliefs. From Kirkegaard's thoughts on coping with death to the I Ching's guidelines on adapting to change, Plato, Not Prozac! makes philosophy accessible and shows you how to use it to solve your everyday ...
If you're facing a dilemma -- whether it's handling a relationship, living ethically, dealing with a career change, or finding meaning in life -- the world's most important thinkers from centuries past will help guide you toward a solution compatible with your individual beliefs. From Kirkegaard's thoughts on coping with death to the I Ching's guidelines on adapting to change, Plato, Not Prozac! makes philosophy accessible and shows you how to use it to solve your everyday problems.
Gone is the need for expensive therapists, medication, and lengthy analysis. Clearly organized by common problems to help you tailor Dr. Lou Marinoff's advice to your own needs, this is an intelligent, effective, and persuasive prescription for self-healing therapy that is giving psychotherapy a run for its money.
"As for Diseases of the Mind, against them Philosophyis provided of Remedies; being, in that respect, justlyaccounted the Medicine of the Mind."—Epicurus
"To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, noreven to found a school... It is to solve some of the problems oflife, not theoretically, but practically."—Henry David Thoreau
A young woman confronts her mother's terminal breast cancer. A man contemplates a midlife career change. A Protestant woman whose daughter is engaged to a Jewish man and whose son is married to a Muslim woman fears potential religious conflicts. A successful business executive struggles over whether to leave his wife of over twenty years. A woman is happily living with her partner, but only one of them wants children. An engineer and single father supporting four children is afraid that blowing the whistle on a design flaw in a high-pressure project could cost him his job. A woman who has everything she thought she wanted — loving husband and children, beautiful house, high-paying career — struggles with meaninglessness: when she looks at her life she thinks, "Is this all there is?"
All of these people have sought professional help in managing theproblems they feel overwhelming them. ln another day, they might have found their way to the offices of a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, marriage counselor, or even their general practitioner for help with "mental illness." Or they might have consulted aspiritual adviser or turned to religion for moral instruction and guidance. And some of them may have been helped in those places. They may also have endured discussions about their childhoods, analysis of their behavior patterns, prescriptions for antidepressants, or arguments about their sinful nature or God's forgiveness, none of which got to the heart of their struggle. And they may well have been signed up for a lengthy and open-ended course of treatment, with a focus on diagnosing the illness as though it were a tumor to be excised or a symptom to be controlled with drugs.
But now there's another option for people unsatisfied by or opposed to psychological or psychiatric therapy: philosophical counseling. What the people described above did was seek out a different kind of assistance. They consulted a philosophical practitioner, looking for insight from the world's great wisdom traditions. As established religious institutions lose their authority with more and more people, and as psychology and psychiatry exceed the limits of their usefulness in people's lives (and begin to do more harm than good), many people are coming to the realization that philosophical expertise encompasses logic, ethics, values, meaning, rationality, decision-making in situations of conflict or risk, and all the vast complexities that characterize human life.
People facing these situations need to talk in terms deep and broad enough to address their concerns. By getting a handle on their personal philosophies of life, sometimes with the help of the great thinkers of the past, they can build a framework for managing whatever they face and go into the next situation more solidly grounded and spiritually or philosophically whole. They need dialogue, not diagnosis.
You can apply this process in your own life. You can work on your own, though sometimes it helps to have a partner to converse with who can make sure you're not overlooking something or settling for rationalization over rationality. With the guidance and examples in this book, you'll be ready to discover the benefits of an examined life, including peace of mind, stability, and integrity. You don't need any experience in philosophy, and you don't have to read Plato's Republic or any other philosophy text (unless you want to). All you need is a philosophical turn of mind, which, since you've picked up this book and read this far, I'd say you have.
Everyone has a philosophy of life, but few of us have the privilege or leisure to sit around and puzzle out the fine points. We tend to make it up as we go along. Experience is a great teacher, but we also need to reason about our experiences. We need to think critically, looking for patterns and putting everything together into the big picture to make our way through life. Understanding our own philosophy can help prevent, resolve, or manage many problems. Our philosophies can also underlie the problems we experience, so we must evaluate the ideas we hold to craft an outlook that works for us, not against us. You can change what you believe in order to work out a problem, and this book will show you how.
Despite its current reputation, philosophy doesn't have to be intimidating, boring, or incomprehensible. Much of what's been written on the subject over the years certainly falls into one or more of those categories, but at its heart, philosophy examines the questions we all ask: What is a good life? What is good? What is life about? Why am I here? Why should I do the right thing? What is the right thing? These are not easy questions, and there are no easy answers or we wouldn't still be mulling them over. No two people will automatically arrive at the same answers. But we all have a set of operating principles we work from, whether or not we are conscious of them and can enumerate them.
The great thing about having thousands of years of thinking to draw on is that many of history's wisest minds have weighed in on these subjects and have left insights and guidelines for us to use. But philosophy is also personal — you are your own philosopher too. Take what you can learn from other sources, but to arrive at a way of approaching the world that works for you, you'll have to do the thoughtful work yourself The good news is that with the proper encouragement, you can think effectively for yourself.
And where do you find such encouragement? Here in this book, for starters. Plato, Not Prozac! offers you some of the fruits of philosophical practice. My fellow practitioners and I are not philosophers in the academic sense alone. Although many of us have Ph.D.s, teach in universities, and publish specialized articles, we do more than that: we also offer client counseling, group facilitation, and organizational consulting. We take philosophy out of purely theoretical or hypothetical contexts and apply it to everyday personal, social, and professional problems...
Posted November 19, 2000
Marinoff really hits the nail on the head when he announces in his title that medicine isn't the (only) answer. I think we're realizing that more and more today. The book also suggests that traditional talk therapy and psychotherapy have their limitations. Marinoff suggests using philosophical wisdom as a way to cope with life, whether it be a specific problem or general dispiritedness, and just reading the book provides welcome perspective in a world of self-help books that focus on the purely subjective or emotional side of individual lives. That said, I do have a bit of a hard time with his cafeteria approach to philosophy. One cannot look up an 'ism,' be it pragmatism or existentialism or stoicism, and simply apply it to life as though it were a twelve step program. That trivializes philosophy, which for philosophers is a life-consuming search for truth. It's not that laymen can't gain from reading tidbits of thinkers through the ages, but applying Kant's categorical imperative to a relationship problem and then Hindusim to a midlife crisis as though they were creams for different parts of the body may strike thoughtful people as contrived. But Marinoff's real message is that it is necessary to have your own philosophy, because the unexamined life is not worth living (or a least a lot harder,) and for that reason this book may prove invaluable to people who feel as though they are alone, struggling with their problems in an incoherent universe. By making an effort just to look for meaning, we may find along the way that our life becomes invested with more meaning than we ever thought possible during years when we believed that we were doomed never to grow out of our three year-old selves.
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Posted June 23, 2003
Philopophy is something we all need, but very few of us get. Philosophy is an intellectual activity that is too often reserved for college students who take one or two philosophy courses or Phds in Philosophy who make it their career. This book isn't intended to be a Philosophy 101 text book. It is a book that anyone can read and enjoy. Marinoff points out that with exploring the great thinkers of the ages, we dont have to rush to the nearest shrink for some pills. Pill pushing is a growing trend in the psycho-analytic world, and it is not necessary in every case. You can help yourself make better decisions in life by studying the wisdom of the world's greatest thinkers. This book is a good read. I highly recommend it. If you never had any introduction to philosophy, this will be a nice book. It also includes a short despcription of many well known philosophers in an appendix in the back of the book.
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Posted February 22, 2001
I bought this book filled with excitement, and after reading the first 50 pages, was dismayed and discouraged. I fear that people with little prior knowledge of philosophy will take this for the real deal. It is psychological pap. The author admits that his 'elliptical ramblings' needed the aid of a professional ghost writer, and I wonder if it was the ghost writer who cooked up this PEACE program so it would be palatable to readers. Unfortunately, the PEACE program the author espouses is a strange hodgepodge and grabbag of the type of populist psychology from the 70s that has long ago been discredited. I guess it's been so long ago that maybe the author thought that most readers wouldn't even realize what he was regurgitating. I hope not. I wish I weren't so negative. I try always to find the good and praise it, but what do you do when the intent of a book seems to be to paint an untrue portait of a great discipline like philosophy?
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