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 life. 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.
How can we live a fulfilling and meaningful life? According to Irvine (philosophy, Wright State Univ.; On Desire), modern academic philosophy cannot help us answer this question because it is more concerned with theoretical problems than how to live a meaningful life. He explains that we must look back to the Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome to establish a philosophy of life. Using the writings of Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius, Irvine shows how Stoic ethics and psychological theories can help us overcome negative emotions and determine what is truly important for living a fulfilling life. These sections cover a wide range of topics from how to deal with insults to how to confront death. In the last sections, Irvine explains the impact of Stoic philosophy on his own life and offers advice for individuals who want to live by Stoic doctrines. Irvine's intended audience is nonphilosophers, but everyone can profit from his clear presentation on the benefits of using philosophical doctrines to live a meaningful life. Recommended for academic and public libraries.