Sophisticated self-help for the 21st century—when every crisis feels like an existential crisis
Soren Kierkegaard, Frederick Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, and other towering figures of existentialism grasped that human beings are, at heart, moody creatures, susceptible to an array of psychological setbacks, crises of faith, flights of fancy, and other emotional ups and downs. Rather than understanding moods—good and bad alike—as afflictions to be treated with pharmaceuticals, this swashbuckling group of thinkers generally known as existentialists believed that such feelings not only offer enduring lessons about living a life of integrity, but also help us discern an inner spark that can inspire spiritual development and personal transformation. To listen to Kierkegaard and company, how we grapple with these feelings shapes who we are, how we act, and, ultimately, the kind of lives we lead.
In The Existentialist's Survival Guide, Gordon Marino, director of the Hong Kierkegaard Library at St. Olaf College and boxing correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, recasts the practical takeaways existentialism offers for the twenty-first century. From negotiating angst, depression, despair, and death to practicing faith, morality, and love, Marino dispenses wisdom on how to face existence head-on while keeping our hearts intact, especially when the universe feels like it’s working against us and nothing seems to matter.
What emerges are life-altering and, in some cases, lifesaving epiphanies—existential prescriptions for living with integrity, courage, and authenticity in an increasingly chaotic, uncertain, and inauthentic age.
Gordon Marino is a professor of philosophy and the director of the Hong Kierkegaard Library at St. Olaf College. He is the author of Kierkegaard in the Present Age, coeditor of The Cambridge Companion to Kierkegaard, and editor of Basic Writings of Existentialism, Ethics: The Essential Writings, and The Quotable Kierkegaard. A veteran boxing trainer, Marino is also an award-winning boxing writer for The Wall Street Journal and other outlets. His work has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Newsweek, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and many other domestic and international publications. He lives in Northfield, Minnesota.
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Each chapter examines a rule:1. Examine life2. Worry only about those things under your control3. Treasure friendship4. Experience true pleasure5. Master yourself6 A void excess7. Be a responsible human being8. Don"t be a prosperous fool9. Don’t do evil to others10. Kindness to others tends to be rewarded
All chapters begin with a quote from one of the great Greek philosophers who inspired the rule, followed by a story or explanation of the rule and its importance in life, and end with teaching points on which to meditate and reflect.
Any reader searching for meaning will return to this simple, slim volume again and again to find tried-and-true wisdom that spans the ages to speak to us today.
The father of existentialism, Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a philosopher who could write like an angel. With only a sentence or two, he could plumb the depths of the human spirit. In this collection of some 800 quotations, the reader will find dazzling bon mots next to words of life-changing power. Drawing from the authoritative Princeton editions of Kierkegaard's writings, this book presents a broad selection of his wit and wisdom, as well as a stimulating introduction to his life and work.
Organized by topic, this volume covers notable Kierkegaardian concerns such as anxiety, despair, existence, irony, and the absurd, but also erotic love, the press, busyness, and the comic. Here readers will encounter both well-known quotations ("Life must be understood backward. But then one forgets the other principle, that it must be lived forward") and obscure ones ("Beware false prophets who come to you in wolves' clothing but inwardly are sheep--i.e., the phrasemongers"). Those who spend time in these pages will discover the writer who said, "my grief is my castle," but who also taught that "the best defense against hypocrisy is love."
Illuminating and delightful, this engaging book also provides a substantial portrait of one of the most influential of modern thinkers.