A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

by William B. Irvine

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Overview

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine

One of the great fears many of us face is that despite all our effort and striving, we will discover at the end that we have wasted our life. In A Guide to the Good Life, William B. Irvine plumbs the wisdom of Stoic philosophy, one of the most popular and successful schools of thought in ancient Rome, and shows how its insight and advice are still remarkably applicable to modern lives.

In A Guide to the Good Life, Irvine offers a refreshing presentation of Stoicism, showing how this ancient philosophy can still direct us toward a better life. Using the psychological insights and the practical techniques of the Stoics, Irvine offers a roadmap for anyone seeking to avoid the feelings of chronic dissatisfaction that plague so many of us. Irvine looks at various Stoic techniques for attaining tranquility and shows how to put these techniques to work in our own life. As he does so, he describes his own experiences practicing Stoicism and offers valuable first-hand advice for anyone wishing to live better by following in the footsteps of these ancient philosophers. Readers learn how to minimize worry, how to let go of the past and focus our efforts on the things we can control, and how to deal with insults, grief, old age, and the distracting temptations of fame and fortune. We learn from Marcus Aurelius the importance of prizing only things of true value, and from Epictetus we learn how to be more content with what we have.

Finally, A Guide to the Good Life shows readers how to become thoughtful observers of their own lives. If we watch ourselves as we go about our daily business and later reflect on what we saw, we can better identify the sources of distress and eventually avoid that pain in our life. By doing this, the Stoics thought, we can hope to attain a truly joyful life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195374612
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 11/04/2008
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 38,767
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.30(d)

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.

Table of Contents

Introduction
Part One: The Rise of Stoicism
The Birth of Philosophy
The First Stoics
The Roman Stoics
Part Two: Stoic Psychological Techniques
Negative Visualization: What's the Worst That Can Happen?
The Dichotomy of Control: On Becoming Invincible
Fatalism: Letting Go of the Past . . . and the Present
Self-Denial: On Dealing with the Dark Side of Pleasure
Meditation: Watching Ourselves Practice Stoicism
Part Three: Stoic Advice
Duty: On Loving Mankind
Social Relations: On Dealing with Other People
Insults: On Putting Up with Put-Downs
Grief: On Conquering Tears with Reason
Anger: On Overcoming Anti-Joy
Personal Values: On Seeking Fame
Personal Values: On Luxurious Living
Exile: On Surviving a Change of Place
Old Age: On Being Banished to a Nursing Home
Dying: On a Good End to a Good Life
On Becoming a Stoic: Start Now and Prepare to Be Mocked
Part Four: Stoicism for Modern Living
The Anti-Stoics
Stoicism Reconsidered
Practicing Stoicism
A Stoic Reading Program
Notes
Works Cited

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A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
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Carl_in_Richland More than 1 year ago
Prof. Irvine’s ‘A Guide to the Good Life’ is one of the most practical guides to “the good life” that I’ve ever read. It begins by advocating the need for readers to address two important philosophical questions…what do you want out of life, and how will you attain it? These are questions that all of us should think about, and to which he proposes the respective answers of ‘tranquility’ and ‘Stoicism’. He uses the word ‘tranquility’ in the same general sense that most use it, albeit with caveats and refinements. However he uses the word ‘Stoic’ in a much different way than is used by most people. Rather than painting a picture of a Stoic as a grim, unemotional, never flinching person, he describes a Stoic as a joyful, grief-free individual who can justify their outlook on life, and hence their enjoyment, using a very rationale perspective. The Stoic approach to living is analytic with no need for blind faith, mysticism or spirituality. The techniques Prof. Irvine describes for living the life of a Stoic are described elsewhere so won’t be summarized here. I can personally attest to their utility and therefore highly recommend this book to any thoughtful reader. ‘A Guide to the Good Life’ is worth reading if for no other purpose than to convince you of the importance of thinking about the two questions posed at the start of this review…what do you want out of life? How will you attain it?
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