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A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy Hardcover – Nov 29 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Oxford University Press, Hardcover edition edition (Nov. 29 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195374614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195374612
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 3.3 x 13.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #27,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"Bill Irvine has given us a great gift: the most accessible and inviting description of modern Stoicism available. Read this book and be prepared to change your life!"--Sharon Lebell, author of Epictetus's The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness
"Well-written and so compelling, this is a rare example of a book that actually will make a difference in the lives of its readers. Whether it's coping with grief or arriving at lasting happiness, Irvine shows, with care and verve, ancient Stoic wisdom to be ever relevant and very, very helpful." --Gary Klein, author of Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions
"Never have I seen so delightful, empathetic, and supple a presentation of Stoicism as Irvine gives us here. Hardly Christian even in sensibilities, the Stoics were, none the less, wise in the ways of life, a benison Irvine exposes, and then delivers here, with panache and great acumen."--Phyllis Tickle, author of The Divine Hours


"Irvine's intended audience is nonphilosophers, but everyone can profit from his clear presentation on the on the benefits of using philosophical doctrines to live a meaningful life."--Library Journal
"Bill Irvine has given us a great gift: the most accessible and inviting description of modern Stoicism available. Read this book and be prepared to change your life!"--Sharon Lebell, author of Epictetus's The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness
"Well-written and so compelling, this is a rare example of a book that actually will make a difference in the lives of its readers. Whether it's coping with grief or arriving at lasting happiness, Irvine shows, with care and verve, ancient Stoic wisdom to be ever relevant and very, very helpful." --Gary Klein, author of Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions
"Never have I seen so delightful, empathetic, and supple a presentation of Stoicism as Irvine gives us here. Hardly Christian even in sensibilities, the Stoics were, none the less, wise in the ways of life, a benison Irvine exposes, and then delivers here, with panache and great acumen."--Phyllis Tickle, author of The Divine Hours



"Another valuable ally in your personal morale campaign can be found in William B. Irvine's A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, which removes the grim grey mask of noble, resigned fatalism attached to the popular conception of Stoic philosophy and lets the humanity out and the air in.... It is a work of clarion clarity, and you won't have to read that far into it before the phrase 'stoic joy' ceases sounding like an oxymoron and becomes a workable proposition."--James Wolcott, Vanity Fair


"Irvine's book excels as a guide for practicing Stoics or for individuals seeking to improve that practice." --The Common Review


"Irvine's intended audience is nonphilosophers, but everyone can profit from his clear presentation on the on the benefits of using philosophical doctrines to live a meaningful life."--Library Journal


"If, however, you are skeptical that even therapy will make you happy -- if you are looking for a life philosophy -- A Guide to the Go


"Irvine excels at giving a "walking tour" of the many schools of Stoic philosophy, from Greek to Roman traditions, identifying individual Stoic thinkers (many more than Seneca) and their principles and techniques, which Irvine argues are even more relevant in modern times than their own." --Philosophical Practice


"Another valuable ally in your personal morale campaign can be found in William B. Irvine's A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, which removes the grim grey mask of noble, resigned fatalism attached to the popular conception of Stoic philosophy and lets the humanity out and the air in.... It is a work of clarion clarity, and you won't have to read that far into it before the phrase 'stoic joy' ceases sounding like an oxymoron and becomes a workable proposition."--James Wolcott, Vanity Fair


"Irvine's book excels as a guide for practicing Stoics or for individuals seeking to improve that practice." --The Common Review


"Irvine's intended audience is nonphilosophers, but everyone can profit from his clear presentation on the on the benefits of using philosophical doctrines to live a meaningful life."--Library Journal


"If, however, you are skeptical that even therapy will make you happy -- if you are looking for a life philosophy -- A Guide to the Good Life is for you.... Irvine's book is more thought-provoking."--Austin American-Statesman


"He writes in clear, almost jargon-free prose that is well suited to his target audience, and maintains a cheerful tone throughout the book...that perfectly expresses the sort of rationally grounded upbeat attitude that is one of the payoffs of becoming a practicing Stoic.... I can firmly recommend Irvine's A Guide to the Good Life to anyone interested in exploring some of the ways philosophical work can be brought to bear on the ordinary problems of living.... there is a great deal of useful thinking and excellent advice to be found in it, presented in a clear, straightforward and often charming manner."--Lauren Tillinghast, Metapsychology Online Reviews


"Bill Irvine has given us a great gift: the most accessible and inviting description of modern Stoicism available. Read this book and be prepared to change your life!"--Sharon Lebell, author of Epictetus's The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness


"Well-written and so compelling, this is a rare example of a book that actually will make a difference in the lives of its readers. Whether it's coping with grief or arriving at lasting happiness, Irvine shows, with care and verve, ancient Stoic wisdom to be ever relevant and very, very helpful." --Gary Klein, author of Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions


"Never have I seen so delightful, empathetic, and supple a presentation of Stoicism as Irvine gives us here. Hardly Christian even in sensibilities, the Stoics were, none the less, wise in the ways of life, a benison Irvine exposes, and then delivers here, with panache and great acumen."--Phyllis Tickle, author of The Divine Hours


"Irvine's calm yet impassioned presentation of a Western philosophy of life that one can actually abide by and practice will be good medicine for many readers...I heartily recommend it." --The Christian Century


"Dr Irvine has used very simple language in his book. He gives a notion of modern stoicism and urges modern readers to practice stoicism." -- The Nation, Pakistan


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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Although vaguely familiar with the Stoic philosophy before I read this book, it definitely cleared up some misunderstandings for me. I am no longer afraid of exploring Stoicism as a potential philosophy of life for myself, and I am certainly interested in reading more on the subject. And although the author is admitting that this is HIS interpretation of stoicism as it comes to a lifestyle, I do like it and wish to explore and adopt it for myself.
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Format: Hardcover
William (the author) argues that obtaining a compatible philosophy of life is the most important goal anyone should have and should precede most other goals. He says that Stoicism is a compatible philosophy for some people like himself but it is not for everyone. He outlines a way of living not just a philosophical theory and does so in plain English. This is not a book for academics it is a how-to book for intelligent people from all walks of life. In fact this review is written at a more difficult level of readability then the book.

The thrust of Stoic Joy (Roman Stoicism), according to the book, involves minimizing the occurrence of negative emotions and maximizing the occurrence of positive emotions the goal being a state of peace and joy called tranquility. The book deals with negative emotions such as anger and grief as well as positive emotions such as joy and love. To that end William recommends the following techniques to move towards a state of tranquility:

- Negative visualization
- Trichotomy of control
- Dealing with other people (insults and anger)
- Voluntary discomfort
- Lifestyle simplification.

William also provides numerous personal examples of how he has used Stoicism to help him move towards tranquility. He notes that when he goes to the mall he no longer buys anything, he finds it much more interesting to observe the consumerism around him. He has added challenges (voluntary discomfort) to his life such as rowing and playing a banjo recital. He notes that playing out (in front of an audience) was anxiety inducing but immunizing against future anxieties. Having played out numerous times myself I concur and also add that, minute-for-minute, playing out provides 10x the improvement in ability than practicing alone does.
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Format: Hardcover
I read this straight through last night. This is a really good introduction to Stoicism. Practical and jargon-free. I liked the writing style and the personal approach to it. He lays out all the basic aspects and addresses some of the concerns I've had but never found answers to before.
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Format: Hardcover
After ordering this, curious about stoicism, I read some of Seneca online, but found Irvine's updated commentary on stoicism to be much more reader friendly and appropriate to my life. I recommended it to my wife. We've since both read it again, dipping into it from time to time. This is as good a guide to living a balanced life as ten of the common "how to live a good life" type of books; it doesn't prescribe so much as describe the author's own approach, drawing lessons from it which are then compared to those drawn from the ancients. I highly recommend it to anyone seeking a more equitable, less stressful, way to live.
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A Guide to the Good Life is an excellent introduction to Stoic philosophy and how it can be used to have a happier life. The book contains a history, overview and advice on Stoic philosophy. At the very least it will give some insights on how to view your life and world and at best it will get you started on the path to a happier more tranquil life. I highly recommend this book to just about anyone.
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I came across the topic of Stoicism one day while wandering through Wikipedia and thought it seemed to match a lot of my own views of the world. Continuing to look at Stoicism, I came across this book and subsequently borrowed it from the local library. After reading it once, I knew I needed to buy my own copy. It is a rather fast read, but I have highlighted lots of passages and intend to read it over and over again.

Mr. Irvine has a clear, humble writing style. He keeps his writing simple and to the point, making him very easy to read. The content is also laid out in a logical, focused fashion. I particularly appreciated the "Stoic Reading Program" at the end that suggested other writings that would be edifying to a new Stoic practitioner, as it has greatly assisted in continuing my pursuit of this subject.
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