Exploring Happiness: From Aristotle to Brain Science

Exploring Happiness: From Aristotle to Brain Science

by Sissela Bok


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In this smart and timely book, the distinguished moral philosopher Sissela Bok ponders the nature of happiness and its place in philosophical thinking and writing throughout the ages. With nuance and elegance, Bok explores notions of happiness—from Greek philosophers to Desmond Tutu, Charles Darwin, Iris Murdoch, and the Dalai Lama—as well as the latest theories advanced by psychologists, economists, geneticists, and neuroscientists. Eschewing abstract theorizing, Bok weaves in a wealth of firsthand observations about happiness from ordinary people as well as renowned figures. This may well be the most complete picture of happiness yet.

This book is also a clarion call to think clearly and sensitively about happiness. Bringing together very different disciplines provides Bok with a unique opportunity to consider the role of happiness in wider questions of how we should lead our lives and treat one another—concerns that don’t often figure in today’s happiness equation. How should we pursue, weigh, value, or limit our own happiness, or that of others, now and in the future? Compelling and perceptive, Exploring Happiness shines a welcome new light on the heart of the human condition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300178104
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 07/11/2011
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 492,567
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.55(d)

About the Author

Sissela Bok is Senior Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, and a moral philosopher of international renown. A former member of the Pulitzer Prize Board, Bok is a Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and sits on the editorial boards of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Common Knowledge, and Ethical Theory and Moral Practice. Her many books include the seminal Lying, Secrets, A Strategy for Peace, Mayhem, and Common Values. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

I Luck 1

II Experience 11

III Discordant Definitions 35

IV "On the Happy Life" 59

V Measurement 83

VI Beyond Temperament 107

VII Is Lasting Happiness Achievable? 132

VIII Illusion 155

IX The Scope of Happiness 173

Notes 179

Index 203

Acknowledgments 217

What People are Saying About This

Richard Sennett

Sissela Bok makes sense of happiness for adults: what sort of happiness we can seek, and what lies beyond our grasp. The book illuminates 'the pursuit of happiness' in modern economics, psychiatry, and philosophy, but she addresses, in the end, any intelligent reader. Sissela Bok writes so clearly and directly that the reader is often caught up short, suddenly realizing that her arguments are always provocations to think more deeply. This is a wise book.(Richard Sennett)

Walter Isaacson

What causes true happiness? From ancient philosophers to contemporary neuroscientists — as well as any of us searching for how to lead a good life — people have grappled with that most profound of all simple questions. Sissela Bok weaves together the different conceptions of happiness to create a shimmering and subtle tapestry. This book will take you a step closer to happiness by helping you understand the idea better." - Walter Isaacson, President and CEO, the Aspen Institute

Barbara Goldsmith

A profound, erudite, and lucid exploration integrating a vast array of sources - personal, philosophical, historical, scientific and spiritual - that cohere to illuminate this elusive subject." - Barbara Goldsmith

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Exploring Happiness: From Aristotle to Brain Science 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Recommend it to everyone searching for an applicable understanding if happiness