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A guide to the good life : the ancient art of Stoic joy /

Main Author: Irvine, William Braxton, 1952-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2009
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Review by Choice Review

Irvine (Wright State Univ.; On Desire, CH, Mar'06, 43-3965) presents a beautiful philosophical examination of the practice and benefits of Stoicism. Easily digested by both scholars and interested laypersons, Irvine's book never strays from the task of delineating Stoicism as a philosophy of life examined from a multitude of angles. Rather than presenting Stoicism as a historical school of philosophy, he shows how it intersects with daily living. Stoicism is more accessible than Zen Buddhism, as one doesn't have to set aside chunks of time to "do Stoicism," as opposed to "practicing" Zen. Irvine delineates Stoicism's central psychological concept of the "dichotomy of control"--internalizing one's goals. The aim is to focus not on an external goal (winning the race), but on an internal goal (running the race to the best of one's ability). This directs mental and physical efforts toward that which one has control over, and not those things that one cannot affect. Irvine thus expands the concept and practice of Stoicism: people should be able to use it to counteract evolutionary, negative psychological dispositions, and thus harmoniously live in "discord" with nature. Uncommonly approachable, this is a valuable work for any philosophy program or interested reader. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers; general readers. S. J. Shaw Prairie View A&M University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

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.-Scott Duimstra, Capital Area Dist. Lib., Lansing, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.