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

Oxford University Press
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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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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.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Nov 4, 2008
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9780199792627
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / General
Philosophy / History & Surveys / Ancient & Classical
Psychology / General
Religion / Inspirational
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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A married person falls deeply in love with someone else. A man of average income feels he cannot be truly happy unless he owns an expensive luxury car. A dieter has an irresistible craving for ice cream. Desires often come to us unbidden and unwanted, and they can have a dramatic impact, sometimes changing the course of our lives. In On Desire, William B. Irvine takes us on a wide-ranging tour of our impulses, wants, and needs, showing us where these feelings come from and how we can try to rein them in. Spicing his account with engaging observations by writers like Seneca, Tolstoy, and Freud, Irvine considers the teachings of Buddhists, Hindus, the Amish, Shakers, and Catholic saints, as well as those of ancient Greek and Roman and modern European philosophers. Irvine also looks at what modern science can tell us about desire--such as what happens in the brain when we desire something and how animals evolved particular desires--and he advances a new theory about how desire itself evolved. Irvine also suggests that at the same time that we gained the ability to desire, we were "programmed" to find some things more desirable than others. Irvine concludes that the best way to attain lasting happiness is not to change the world around us or our place in it, but to change ourselves. If we can convince ourselves to want what we already have, we can dramatically enhance our happiness. Brimming with wisdom and practical advice, On Desire offers a thoughtful approach to controlling unwanted passions and attaining a more meaningful life.
Insults are part of the fabric of daily life. But why do we insult each other? Why do insults cause us such pain? Can we do anything to prevent or lessen this pain? Most importantly, how can we overcome our inclination to insult others? In A Slap in the Face, William Irvine undertakes a wide-ranging investigation of insults, their history, the role they play in social relationships, and the science behind them. He examines not just memorable zingers, such as Elizabeth Bowen's description of Aldous Huxley as "The stupid person's idea of a clever person," but subtle insults as well, such as when someone insults us by reporting the insulting things others have said about us: "I never read bad reviews about myself," wrote entertainer Oscar Levant, "because my best friends invariably tell me about them." Irvine also considers the role insults play in our society: they can be used to cement relations, as when a woman playfully teases her husband, or to enforce a social hierarchy, as when a boss publicly berates an employee. He goes on to investigate the many ways society has tried to deal with insults-by adopting codes of politeness, for example, and outlawing hate speech-but concludes that the best way to deal with insults is to immunize ourselves against them: We need to transform ourselves in the manner recommended by Stoic philosophers. We should, more precisely, become insult pacifists, trying hard not to insult others and laughing off their attempts to insult us. A rousing follow-up to A Guide to the Good Life, A Slap in the Face will interest anyone who's ever delivered an insult or felt the sting of one--in other words, everyone.
[牛津大學出版社最暢銷的人生哲學書]

歐巴馬、柯林頓、密特朗、梭羅、叔本華

都歎服的生命智慧

 

 

「盲目的樂觀,只會使人感覺膚淺;過度的悲觀,則會使人走向毀滅。唯有悲觀後的樂觀,才是精神上的強者!」

──尼采

 

 

◤活在這世上,你需要「實用的悲觀主義」◢

換湯不換藥的心靈方法→廉價的勵志泡沫→失控的正向思考→惶惑的下流老人

錯誤的人生目標╳不切實際的期待

將讓你虛度人生

 

 

▼想太多也沒關係,你的悲觀也有意義,

斯多噶哲學教你善用悲觀的正面力量

兩千多年前,斯多噶哲學家運用悲觀思考的正面力量,

意外發現了解決人生困境的心理技巧。

藉由實踐斯多噶哲學的極簡心法,當你在人生路上遇到生命十大考驗:

羞辱、憤怒、悲傷、欲望、名利、人際關係、衰老、死亡……時,

便能夠以退為進,化解心中看不開的傷、跨不過的坎,

用「消極想像」積極消解填不滿的欲望,

用「幽默自嘲」輕巧穿越羞辱與憤怒,

用「宿命論」戰勝生命的悲苦與眼淚,

剔除過度的欲望及有毒的情緒,實踐素樸的極簡生活,

發現生命真正有價值的事物,學會保持心靈平靜的大智慧。

 

▼斯多噶哲學五大心理技巧

──用悲觀的力量找回快樂的能力

【心法①】消極想像大滿足:想像最壞的結果,學會渴望早已擁有的事物,生活甜美度加倍

【心法②】控制二分心自在:將事物分成能控制與不能控制的,讓愛控制的心學會斷捨離

【心法③】活在當下大智慧:「過去」和「現在」的宿命論,教你擺脫不滿足,學會享受現有的生活

【心法④】鍛鍊意志反快樂:定期自找麻煩,延遲享受,培養自控力,快樂便操之在我

【心法⑤】反躬自省的實踐:定期反省日常生活中的事件,像《沉思錄》那樣認真過生活

 

▼知足:快樂的極簡主義

──從簡單事物中獲得快樂的能力,決定你享受生活、解決困難的能力

今日我們面臨更多的焦慮、誘惑、競爭,也與古羅馬人面臨同樣的羞辱、悲傷、衰老,

但我們仍舊束手無策,飽受各種負面情緒所苦。

斯多噶哲學發現,痛苦的元凶就是人類「貪得無厭」「習慣控制結果」的兩大天性,

讓我們不知不覺喪失了享受簡單事物的能力,而嚴重耗損了享受生活、感受快樂的能力。

原來,快樂跟控制欲也要極簡:節制、知足,反而更快樂;遇到困境時也能快速調適,不陷入痛苦。

掌握斯多噶哲學的五大極簡心法,將幫助你恢復快樂的嗅覺,

在物質與心靈上同時實踐一種素樸的極簡生活,讓你越活越幸福。

▼生命的難關,斯多噶哲學都有解

──早在兩千年前就為現代人調製的哲學藥方

本書詳細闡述斯多噶哲學家經典格言中的生命智慧,

從食衣住行各方面提供讀者如何擁有美好生活的忠告,

作者還整理出斯多噶哲學十大生活實踐處方,

教你按部就班學會兩千年前的古羅馬生活智慧,你將:

 

¯從羅馬皇帝馬可‧奧里略身上學會取捨

¯從愛比克泰德身上學會從有限的生活中獲得更大的滿足

¯減低焦慮,釋懷過去,將心力聚焦在生命中能夠控制的事物上

¯妥善處理羞辱、悲傷、衰老,坦然面對名聲與財富的誘惑等十大生命困境

¯徹底治癒對生活無休無止的不滿足,讓內心恢復從容和平靜

¯成為自己生命的觀察者,找到焦慮的源頭,避免種種痛苦,自主創造幸福人生

▼斯多噶哲學特色

①     完備的人生哲學體系,萬用的人生處方箋:斯多噶哲學對人生感興趣,對於實踐者該如何吃飯、穿衣、對待父母,甚至如何進行性生活,都提供具體的細節建議,食衣住行,無所不包。沒有一種哲學如此全面地處理人生問題,實用度高。

②     收錄斯多噶哲學經典格言與生活忠告,讓你人生路上不獨行,隨書俯拾座右銘,隨時掃除靈魂紛擾,尋回生命本然的快樂。

③     隨時隨地可練習:練習五大心法不需輔具、不用另撥時間,風險小,效果大。在心中為自己創立一所虛擬的人生學校,跟著斯多噶哲學家做自己的人生導師。

▼強力推薦

˙這是一部像號角一樣明晰的著作。你不必深入閱讀就會感到,「斯多噶主義的快樂」聽起來並不是一種矛盾的表達法,而已經成為一種切實可行的主張。 
——詹姆士‧沃爾科特(James Wolcott),《名利場》作者 
˙這是當下對斯多噶主義哲學最容易理解和最吸引人的描述。閱讀這本書並準備改變你的生活吧! 
——莎倫‧李蓓爾(Sharon Lebell),《生活的藝術》作者 
˙我不可能三言兩語就為本書帶給我的許多快樂做出公允的評論。我只能說,我發現我現在每天都離不開它,幾乎每日提及此書,這讓我的妻子和女兒感到有點瘋狂。 
——馬特‧米勒(Matt Miller),國家公共電臺《左中右》欄目 
˙寫得非常好,引人入勝!這是一本能夠改變讀者生活的希罕之書!無論是處理悲傷,還是要達到持久的幸福,歐文都表現了古代斯多噶主義的智慧,它與我們的生活息息相關,並且非常非常有幫助。 
——加里‧克萊因(Gary Klein),《權力之源》作者

Great ideas often develop gradually after studying a problem at length--but not always. Sometimes, an insight hits like a bolt from the blue. For Archimedes, clarity struck while he was taking a bath. For Gustav Mahler, it came as the blades of his oars touched the water. And for Albert Einstein, it emerged while he was talking to a friend. Why do these moments of insight strike so suddenly? Why do they so often come to us when we are focused on something completely unrelated? And when great ideas "come to" us, where do they come from? In Aha!: The Moments of Insight that Shape Our World, philosopher William B. Irvine, author of A Guide to the Good Life and On Desire, explores these epiphanies, from the minor insights that strike us all daily, to the major realizations that alter the course of history. Focusing on aha moments as they take place in five different domains--religion, morality, science, math, and art--Irvine provides case studies that shed light on the different ways epiphanies happen in the different domains, and on their differing social impact. Along the way, he describes some of the great aha moments in history, from ancient times to the present day. We like to think that our greatest thoughts are the product of our conscious mind. Irvine demonstrates, though, that it is our unconscious mind that is the source of our most significant insights, and that the role the conscious mind plays in eliciting these insights is to try, unsuccessfully, to solve certain problems. Only if the conscious mind is willing to do this--and thereby experience considerable frustration--is the unconscious mind likely to reward it with a breakthrough insight-that the conscious mind will then take credit for. Irvine explores not only the neuroscience of aha moments but also their personal and social ramifications. How does a person respond to having a breakthrough insight that goes against a dominant paradigm? And how does the world respond when she shares that insight? Irvine shows that in many cases, what is most remarkable about those who have had the great insights of human history is not their but their courage and perseverance in fighting for the world to accept those insights. Aha! is a must-read for cognitive scientists, intellectual historians, philosophers, and anyone who has ever been blown away by the ideas that enlighten us when we least expect it.
Great ideas often develop gradually after studying a problem at length--but not always. Sometimes, an insight hits like a bolt from the blue. For Archimedes, clarity struck while he was taking a bath. For Gustav Mahler, it came as the blades of his oars touched the water. And for Albert Einstein, it emerged while he was talking to a friend. Why do these moments of insight strike so suddenly? Why do they so often come to us when we are focused on something completely unrelated? And when great ideas "come to" us, where do they come from? In Aha!: The Moments of Insight that Shape Our World, philosopher William B. Irvine, author of A Guide to the Good Life and On Desire, explores these epiphanies, from the minor insights that strike us all daily, to the major realizations that alter the course of history. Focusing on aha moments as they take place in five different domains--religion, morality, science, math, and art--Irvine provides case studies that shed light on the different ways epiphanies happen in the different domains, and on their differing social impact. Along the way, he describes some of the great aha moments in history, from ancient times to the present day. We like to think that our greatest thoughts are the product of our conscious mind. Irvine demonstrates, though, that it is our unconscious mind that is the source of our most significant insights, and that the role the conscious mind plays in eliciting these insights is to try, unsuccessfully, to solve certain problems. Only if the conscious mind is willing to do this--and thereby experience considerable frustration--is the unconscious mind likely to reward it with a breakthrough insight-that the conscious mind will then take credit for. Irvine explores not only the neuroscience of aha moments but also their personal and social ramifications. How does a person respond to having a breakthrough insight that goes against a dominant paradigm? And how does the world respond when she shares that insight? Irvine shows that in many cases, what is most remarkable about those who have had the great insights of human history is not their but their courage and perseverance in fighting for the world to accept those insights. Aha! is a must-read for cognitive scientists, intellectual historians, philosophers, and anyone who has ever been blown away by the ideas that enlighten us when we least expect it.
Insults are part of the fabric of daily life. But why do we insult each other? Why do insults cause us such pain? Can we do anything to prevent or lessen this pain? Most importantly, how can we overcome our inclination to insult others? In A Slap in the Face, William Irvine undertakes a wide-ranging investigation of insults, their history, the role they play in social relationships, and the science behind them. He examines not just memorable zingers, such as Elizabeth Bowen's description of Aldous Huxley as "The stupid person's idea of a clever person," but subtle insults as well, such as when someone insults us by reporting the insulting things others have said about us: "I never read bad reviews about myself," wrote entertainer Oscar Levant, "because my best friends invariably tell me about them." Irvine also considers the role insults play in our society: they can be used to cement relations, as when a woman playfully teases her husband, or to enforce a social hierarchy, as when a boss publicly berates an employee. He goes on to investigate the many ways society has tried to deal with insults-by adopting codes of politeness, for example, and outlawing hate speech-but concludes that the best way to deal with insults is to immunize ourselves against them: We need to transform ourselves in the manner recommended by Stoic philosophers. We should, more precisely, become insult pacifists, trying hard not to insult others and laughing off their attempts to insult us. A rousing follow-up to A Guide to the Good Life, A Slap in the Face will interest anyone who's ever delivered an insult or felt the sting of one--in other words, everyone.
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