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A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy
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A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy [Format Kindle]

William B. Irvine
4.7 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)

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All in all Irvine does a fine job in offering his 'resolutely practcal' brand of Stoicism to a popular audience. His citation of the original sources is effective and stimulating of interest. His tone is just right one for the popular audience he wishes to reach. (Walter M. Roberts III, Bryn Mawr Classical Review )

Présentation de l'éditeur

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.

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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Intéressant 22 juin 2013
Par nico
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Un point de vue moderne sur le stoïcisme, une école philosophique antique qui s'adapte étonnamment bien à la vie au 21ème siècle.
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Une introduction au stoïcisme 27 décembre 2012
Par Paul
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Excellent livre : une approche assez académique sur le stoïcisme, relatant l'évolution historique et les origines de cette philosophie de vie ainsi que ses fondamentaux. L'auteur nous conseille aussi sur la mise en application du stoïcisme dans notre quotidien.
Écriture très accessible, facile à lire, très enrichissant. Un trésor bien gardé à lire au moins une fois dans sa vie !
J'ai écrit une analyse de ma lecture pour ceux qui hésiteraient toujours : [...]
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 My prefered one! 17 décembre 2012
Par Haddad
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This was an introduction to stoicism. Very well written, fascinating and basic. For those who are interested in stoicism. You will learn how to become a stoic (at least have an idea about it).
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.5 étoiles sur 5  167 commentaires
272 internautes sur 280 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Best Introduction to an Ancient Philosophy 23 décembre 2008
Par David B Richman - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I first read Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations" while flying to the eastern United States for a scientific meeting. It was during a rather difficult period in my life and I had picked up on "Meditations" because of a mention of this work by Edwin Way Teale in "Near Horizons" as a book he turned to in times of trouble. I was not disappointed by these insightful notes written for his own use nearly 2000 years ago by the Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher. It was thus that I was primed to read William B. Irvine's "A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy." This is one of those books that can be really life changing, if the reader is ready for it.

Irvine briefly discusses the history of Stoic philosophy and its relationship to other philosophies in ancient Greece and Rome. He concentrates most of the book, however, on the Stoics of the Roman Empire, namely Seneca, Gaius Musonius Rufus, Epictetus and of course, Marcus Aurelius. After his historical review Irvine spends some time on the practical aspects of Stoicism, including negative visualization (visualizing how your life could be worse), dichotomy of control (what we can and cannot control), fatalism (about the past and present, not the future), self-denial (putting off pleasure so as to appreciate it more when you have it), duty (what we owe to others), social relations (how we relate to others), insults (how to react to them), grief (how to deal with loss), anger (how to turn it to humor), personal values (how to deal with fame and fortune, or the lack thereof), old age (how to deal with the aging process), and dying (how to prepare for this certainty). The last part of the book is devoted to the practice of Stoicism in the modern world, with both its pluses and minuses.

Although I would have to practice a modified Stoicism (I doubt that most of us would like to sleep even occasionally on a board or give up sex except for procreation), there is much of Stoicism that we can use in the modern world. Unlike the Cynics who slept on boards all the time and generally followed ascetic practices, Stoics wanted to enjoy life and followed something akin to the Middle Way of Buddhism. This attitude could certainly be of use to counter the worst of this "me first" society of rampant consumerism. In truth you really cannot take it with you when you die and to act like you can is the height of folly.

This book is a fascinating exposition of Stoic philosophy and its possible uses in the present day. The current economic collapse and other disasters of modern living could be a fertile ground for a revival of Stoic ideas. I also recommend it as a refreshing antidote for the hectic modern world in general. Take what is useful, and leave the rest, but read it if you would live deliberately and thus be free!
133 internautes sur 137 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Stoicism Redux 20 février 2009
Par Ismael Ghalimi - Publié sur
Once in a while, one comes across an idea so profound that it has the power to change one's life. So was the case for me yesterday on my way to Columbus, OH. Feeling like Christopher Columbus (re)discovering the Americas, I re-discovered the ancient Stoic philosophy through the reading of A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B Irvine's, thanks to a program I recently listened to on KPFA. I had never read the philosophy of Zeno of Citium, Epitectus, Seneca, or Marcus Aurelius, but I knew in my heart that such a liberating yet deceivingly simple way of living must have been devised before. I just did not know where to look for it. And much like the author, I had been recently intrigued by Zen Buddhism, but could not fully relate to its esoteric nature.

Classic Stoicism preaches a way of life that can bring tranquility and joy to anyone. Through simple psychological techniques such as negative visualization, dichotomy (/trichotomy) of control, or internalization of goals--all brilliantly described in Irivine's book--one can suppress negative feelings such as anxiety, fear, or frustration, while learning how to better deal with insult or grief, and why fame and luxury should not be looked for (more on this later).

While reading through the 336 pages of Irivine's book, I was amazed at how natural the overall philosophy felt to me. Its guiding principles were some of the very few absolute values that I could genuinely call mine, and many of its techniques I had discovered myself over time. In the author's words, I must be a "congenital Stoic." Nevertheless, I had never been able to spell out such a coherent system on my own, nor had I come across anyone who had until now.

Reading through the book's last chapters, and especially Chapter Twenty-One--Stoicism Reconsidered--I experienced an exhilarating rush of wholesomeness, being confronted for the first time to a coherent philosophy of life. Religious minds would say I got a revelation. Being agnostic myself, I would call it an epiphany, and it came in the form of Irvine's proof that Stoicism was a "correct philosophy of life," not by referring to Zeus as the ancient Stoics did, but to evolutionary theory in general, and evolutionary psychology in particular. Not being a professional philosopher myself, I cannot adequately criticize Irvine's argumentation, but it made sense to me. In fact, I would even go as far as challenging the author's excessive modesty, and suggest that he actually delivered a modern proof for Stoicism's overall correctness.

To say the book convinced me is an understatement. It converted me, not only to the doctrine, but to the scholastic approach of ancient philosophy. And as Seneca put it, "I do not bind myself to some particular one of the Stoic masters; I, too, have the right to form an opinion." (Seneca, "On the Happy Life," III.2). So let me offer some suggestions as to how Stoicism could be extended to benefit from more recent discoveries.

First, the notion of "duty," which ancient Stoics justify by the mere fact that we are social creatures and that we all mutually benefit from virtuous social behavior, should be further developed. In order for it to become more acceptable, its justification should go beyond the benefits of harmonious inter-personal relationships, and include a notion best described as statistical Karma: if more people act benevolently with others in a pass-it-forward kind of way, the world at large will become a better place, and we will all benefit from it indirectly.

Second, the notion that fame after death should not be set as a goal, while advisable at first, is unnecessarily challenging for those who do not believe in life after death. Instead, I believe that one's goal could (should) be to create a lasting legacy, either by passing the virtuous of a Stoic life to one's descendants, or by making positive contributions to mankind, small or large. Such a legacy can reasonably be considered as some form of life after death by agnostic philosophers, or a component of life after death by their religious counterparts. Furthermore, because such a legacy will be judged by those who survive us after our passing, setting its creation as a primary life goal should not expose us to the usual traps of fame seeking. Last but not least, it should be obvious to anyone that such a legacy should be a positive one, as in one that will benefit those who survive us and for generations to come, as opposed to a free entry into history books for reason of crime against humanity.

Third, I believe that the Stoic reaction to insult (offense might even be a more appropriate term) should be extended in order to include what is possibly the most powerful discoveries of the past two millennia: Christian forgiveness. Before explaining what I mean by that, let me give some personal background: my mother was born in France and received a Catholic education. My father was born in Algeria and was raised as a Muslim. I was born in France thirty-five years ago and grew up in a perfectly atheist environment, like many kids of this time in post-68, pre-socialist France. Nevertheless, I later developed a keen interest for Christianity and its principles, originally through the watching of movies from David Lynch. Fire Walk with Me gave me an intuitive understanding of the notion of the original sin and its repercussions on our collective psyche as members of a Judeo-Christian community, while The Straight Story offered a moving demonstration of the power of forgiveness. While I view the concept of original sin as fundamentally anti-Stoic, I consider the notion of forgiveness as the ultimate exercise of Stoic mastery. The reason for this is simple: on one hand, ignoring an insult or offense is neutral at best, even slightly negative as the author would admit, for it creates frustration on the side of the offender. On the other hand, genuine forgiveness, although tremendously challenging for the one who received the offense and arguably rare, has the power to deliver a transforming epiphany to the offender. In other words, forgiveness could be the ultimate act of Neostoicism, and is positively viral by nature, therefore should be practiced whenever possible.

I am now sitting on a plane on my way back home. Practicing negative visualization, I realize how fortunate I am that the previous three legs of my trip were completed without any incidents. And while I contemplate the prospect of the plane crashing before we make it back to SFO, I know in my heart that I am living a good life now, at this very moment (carpe diem). I realize that I shared through these lines more than I expected to, and that it does not make me a proper stealth Stoic as advocated in Irvine's book, but I also know that many of the ideas he brought back to life were born through Socratic debate. I simply wish to contribute to the discussion, with as much innocence that my ignorance will afford me.

Tonight, I found my way (in a Taoist sense), and this brings me joy.
93 internautes sur 98 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 New Life for an Ancient Art 2 janvier 2009
Par Jon Morris - Publié sur
For the most part, reading contemporary philosophy is a bit like watching a rabid dog chase its tail: round and round it turns, growling here, nipping there, until exhausted it collapses in the same place it began, upon a sorry bed of deconstructed words, free-floating signifiers "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Ironically, philosophy has perhaps never been more sorely needed than now, and those who are skeptical of facile religious answers, and distrustful of scientific "theories of everything" (as String Theory claims to be), find themselves seemingly alone to contemplate life's most demanding questions. In this bleak scenario, William Irvine's book represents a timely exception, filling in a void and lighting a candle in an otherwise dark library.

Irvine's book works on many levels. In part, it is a manifesto, a call to arms--an insistence that philosophy address life's most important questions--about life, death, responsibility, etc.; in part, it is an attempt to revitalize interest in the offerings of a philosophical school that has been wrongly neglected, and as such it serves as a great introduction to its most important thinkers; and in part it is a guide, a personal look at how philosophy, particularly stoic philosophy, can empower a person.

The book will appeal to a large audience; indeed, the title and subtitle could easily be reversed. That is, one could read this book as a guide to the good life (without the ten-step pop-psychology), or, one might just as easily read it as an overview of "the ancient art of joy," a look at how the ancients dealt with problems similar to those which we face today, and how they found meaning and happiness despite (or even thanks to) them.

The Stoics have much to teach us in part because they lived in a period not unlike our own: as Rollo May, the existentialist psychologist, points out, "After the Golden Age of classical Greece, when the myths and symbols gave the citizen armor against inner conflict and self-doubts, we come down to the third and second centuries B.C.". The old myths and political ideals were collapsing and giving rise to doubt, anxiety, angst. This would continue for several centuries and carry over to the Romans. Just like they had gladiator sports, we have reality TV. This, of course, is a gross oversimplification, but it is worth mentioning because the Stoics, much more so than the representatives of current philosophical trends, provide us with tools to face the challenges of our time.

The book is divided into four sections, the richest of which are the second, "Stoic Psychological Techniques," and the third, "Stoic Advice." The table of contents is available, so I won't list the chapters. Suffice it to say, they address life's concerns--grief, anger, death and aging, personal values, etc.... Where Irvine's book really distinguishes itself is in its ability to synthesize the ideas of the Stoics into a coherent and orderly guide. Anyone who has read Marcus Aurelius has certainly found much to treasure, but as the book was a sort of diary, it jumps about, and so his thoughts on the nature of the universe, for example, are peppered throughout. Irvine does an excellent job of sifting through these rich texts and compiling the insights of the Stoics according to themes, in a way that is immediately accessible and stimulating.

In the final section of his book, "Stoicism for Modern Lives," Irvine is tempered but explicit in his critique of modern psychology and counseling. Stoicism teaches us to face and overcome life's greatest challenges; often, contemporary counseling does not. Instead, it encourages victimhood or prescribes a feel-good drug. Here, too, TV is a good indicator. With thousands of veterans returning from the Middle East with PTSD, the book is again a timely corrective to our contemporary milieu. "It would be bad enough," Irvine says, "if grief counseling were simply ineffective. In some cases, though, such counseling seems to intensify and prolong people's grief ... it is the psychological equivalent of picking at the scab on a wound." Here, too, Stoicism represents an intelligent and ethical alternative.

Reading Irvine's book is a pleasure: jargon-free, personal and intelligent, it is an example of what philosophy can be and ought to be. Readers will also find the suggested reading list and bibliography helpful. Highly recommended.
74 internautes sur 78 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Stoicism Naturalized 12 mars 2011
Par Reader - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
In `A Guide to the Good Life' William Irvine makes a case for Stoicism in the modern Western world. A short popular work, the text does not presuppose or require prior acquaintance with philosophy in general or stoicism in particular. The following comments are offered for potential readers.

First a few words with respect to context. Along with Epicureanism and Cynicism Stoicism was a well-known school of Greek philosophy in the ancient world that thrived for many centuries. Stoicism is often divided into three periods, Early Stoicism (Zeno and Chrysippus), Middle Stoicism (Panaetius and Posidonis) and Late Stoicism (Seneca, Musonius, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius). Irvine's book centered on the latter Roman period which has a pragmatic rather than theoretical focus; at least the extant texts are skewed in this direction. With the exception of some occasional pockets of resurgence Stoicism vanished from the intellectual landscape in the early centuries of the Common Era.

While I appreciate stoicism and think that it has something to offer to contemporary society, I have mixed feelings about this text. On the positive side Irvine writes in a manner that is accessible to a broad non-academic audience and as such may expose Stoicism to readers that it might not otherwise reach. His observations, while overly general, regarding the superficial and commercial nature of modern Western society are worth noting and likely to resonate with reflective readers. Additionally he does an adequate job of introducing and discussing some Stoic techniques for dealing the challenges of life (e.g. desire, anxiety and anger), and attempts to dispel the stereotype of stoics as cold and joyless people. Finally, while not a major aspect of the book, I enjoyed his critic of modern psychologically. These comments were necessary given that stoic and modern psychological presuppositions are often in disagreement. Time will tell, however, I agree with Irvine that Stoicism is as at least as likely to be true as aspects of modern psychology - perhaps more likely.

With regard to drawbacks the book's greatest weakness is that in naturalizing stoicism the author fundamentally changes and undermines this ancient philosophy. Irvine is a committed naturalist and in order for Stoicism to fit his worldview he needs to expunge its supernaturalism. What results from such an exercise does not seem to be Stoicism. Stoicism is anchored in a supernatural worldview; it is a pantheistic philosophy that understands human agents to be part of God. As a consequence of this supposition Stoics posit that there is value, purpose and hope in life. Divorced from its metaphysical underpinnings Stoicism seems to be just another example of feel good pop psychology. This is not intended as a particular critic of naturalism, but merely to point out that in a naturalistic worldview the Stoic belief in objective value and purpose is simply misguided.

Overall, while not a terrible little book, it is probably a pass for most readers seeking an introduction to Stoicism. Instead, I would recommend that readers access Stoic thinkers directly; Seneca's letters, Epictetus' Manual and Marcus Aurelius' Meditations are all readable and widely available. With regard to Latter Stoicism "Epictetus' by leading Stoic scholar A.A. Long is also especially good.
59 internautes sur 69 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Fair look at Stoicism 20 mars 2009
Par Ingalls - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
Stoicism in two words: Stop whining!
This is a simple and clear introduction to this great philosophy. It might have been too simple for me. I've been reading ancient philosophy for decades and found myself skipping ahead as I found that there were too many pages spent explaining what I thought was obvious. An easy to read companion to newcomers.
Notice: This printing is poorly done. Several pages are repeated in the book. That's not the author's fault. It's the publisher's.

Stoicism advises people to:

1) Stop whining; it accomplishes nothing.
2) Accept what you can't change in people, life, and society. You have very little control over the world; get used to it.
3) Count the blessings that you have and stop yearning for what you don't have.
4) Learn to control your negative emotions by studying their causes which are actually in your internal perception of events rather than the external events themselves.
5) Do your duty; a civilized society depends on it.
6) Put up with deprivation now and then so you do not get used to extravagances which may be taken from you one day.
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