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Philosophy As a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault

4.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  385 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
This book presents a history of spiritual exercises from Socrates to early Christianity, an account of their decline in modern philosophy, and a discussion of the different conceptions of philosophy that have accompanied the trajectory and fate of the theory and practice of spiritual exercises. Hadot's book demonstrates the extent to which philosophy has been, and still is ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 3rd 1995 by Wiley-Blackwell (first published 1981)
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A Guide to the Good Life by William B. IrvineMeditations by Marcus AureliusLetters from a Stoic by SenecaThe Art of Living by EpictetusPhilosophy for Life by Jules Evans
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,192)
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Ron
Jan 10, 2011 Ron rated it it was amazing
Amazing. This is the book I've been looking for ever since I read the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius 4 years ago. That book opened my eyes to something essential, which is the thesis of this book: ancient philosophy was not the abstract theoretical discourse that philosophy is today, but was a way of life, a means of transforming one's perception of reality, and was accompanied by spiritual disciplines to help people transform their lives. Philo-sophia, the love of wisdom, was for living. It was ...more
Yashvir Dalaya
May 25, 2013 Yashvir Dalaya rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, favorites
Hadot's clear-cut understanding of the Hellenistic schools of philosophy, particularly Stoicism and Epicureanism, is manifestly presented, albeit in thesis form, in this book. He points out how philosophy, in its current practice, has become more about abstract theorizing on the manner of the universe and our own lives, from its purpose in antiquity of serving as a practical guide to a "way of life".

This book will serve more as an exposition of the several schools of philosophical thought that p
...more
James
Jan 28, 2011 James rated it it was amazing
Hadot presents philosophy as "spiritual exercises" through essays on Socrates, Marcus Aurelius, and others. In addition to the exercises the book includes essays on the methods of philosophy, discussions of Socrates and Marcus Aurelius. The essay on Marcus Aurelius was enhanced by my concurrent reading of his Meditations which can be seen as an example of the way of practicing philosophy described in Hadot's book. The book concludes with a section on "Themes" where the nature of happiness and un ...more
Marius
Lucrare esențială pentru iubitorii filosofiei antice. Hadot are un stil clar și accesibil chiar și pentru profani ca mine. Mă bucur că am descoperit această carte deoarece mă obligă să recitesc toți filosofii pre-creștini din noua perspectivă pe care mi-a indicat-o Hadot.

Trebuie să remarc extraordinara calitate a acestei ediții românești apărută la o editură despre care n-am mai auzit și care se ocupă în principal cu scrieri religioase. În toată cartea de 500 de pagini n-am întâlnit absolut nic
...more
Olivier Goetgeluck
Aug 25, 2014 Olivier Goetgeluck rated it it was amazing
"People are not troubled by things, but by their judgments about things."
- Epictetus

Epictetus' three acts or functions of the soul:
- judgment
- desire
- inclination or impulsion

Since each of these activities of the soul depend on us, we can discipline them, we can choose to judge or not to judge in a particular way, we can choose to desire or not to desire, to will or not to will.


The goal of spiritual exercises is to influence yourself, to produce an effect in yourself.

In every spiritual exercise
...more
Ira
Jul 17, 2012 Ira rated it it was amazing
This is a good read and it cheers me up. The chapter on Socrates is particularly interesting: insights into approaches to teaching and dialogue, as well as the role of Eros as demon. And about incommunicability, language and death. Finally some ancient wisdom. I will re-read Euripides tragedies. The form of dialogue is first a form of friendship. It is a journey in which the interlocutors do not know the destination. They do not respectively defend a ‘truth’ or conclusion yet it is a kind of bat ...more
Kang
Aug 06, 2008 Kang rated it it was ok
Hadot strikes me as a cross between Foucault and Leo Strauss: he shares with the Strauss the view that, as the book title suggests, philosophy is not primarily and perhaps not even ultimately concerned with assigning truth values to assertoric propositions. He shares with Foucault a certain historicism; the way he talks about the doctrines and methods of so-called "schools of thought" is somewhat symptomatic of this fact. The editing in this volume is lazy, and Hadot is repetitious and his style ...more
Joe
Jul 05, 2014 Joe rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book.

Unfortunately I only understood every third paragraph. Much of the book went over my head, but the third that I did understand made it one of the best books I've read.

If you are interested in Stoicism then I would recommend giving this book a read. I would love to have someone to discuss it with and perhaps help me gain some insights on the bits I couldn't fully appreciate.
Gary Brooks
Mar 07, 2015 Gary Brooks rated it it was amazing
Superlative examination of philosophy's evolution through practical guide to the good life, scholastic theological foil, to it's present academic, abstract form. Hadot details the spiritual exercises of Stoicism, Epicureanism, Pythagors and Plotinus; concentrating also on themes in common such as devotion to the present moment, virtue as a lived exercise and philosophy as a means of living well. Recommended.
Patrick Iain
Feb 15, 2013 Patrick Iain rated it it was amazing
A truly excellent book - gives a wonderful, historical sweep on the evolution of spiritual exercises from the time of antiquity to the present day.

I would recommend it to the religious and non-religious alike, anyone who is interested in the big questions in life and how we might examine them, and live our responses to them, on a moment-by-moment basis.

Hadot was an innovative genius.
Kvnt
Jan 05, 2016 Kvnt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy, religion
The title makes Philosophy As a Way of Life sound like a book of "pop philosophy", but it isn't. It's very academic in the sense of being meticulously researched, with sources rigorously documented. This book could be used at the highest levels of education.

And it's an excellent book. It focuses a lot on Stoic philosophy, but incorporates some other sources as well. It presents philosophy as a practical discipline, sort of like a secular set of "spiritual exercises" aimed at addressing the same
...more
Frank Della Torre
Apr 25, 2015 Frank Della Torre rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life.
Alex Winikoff
Oct 03, 2012 Alex Winikoff rated it it was amazing
BEAUTIFUL book on philosophy.
Jake
Oct 03, 2014 Jake rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
"...philosophy was a way of life...a mode of existing-in-the-world, which had to be practiced at each instant, and the goal of which was to transform the whole of the individual's life."

The title almost implies that this book is a kind of breezy, New-Age self help book; this is unfortunate,
because this book is nothing short of an amazing and intense work of scholarship by a master, Pierre Hadot.

Hadot contends, essentially, that philosophy in the Middle Ages and in Antiquity was not theoretical
...more
Michael Fogleman
Jul 05, 2012 Michael Fogleman rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Dresden
Read much of this book on a one-to-one study group with Dresden; we both enjoyed what we read, although she said that John said that he had heard Hadot was "Foucault light." Hadot is certainly simple, and one can tire of his seemingly endless search for sources and authors that match his thesis—and yet that thesis opens up a new realm for philosophy past and future, but most especially in the present. Now. Yes. Now. (Did you get that?)

Hadot made me want to re-read Plato properly, and I thank him
...more
Stefano
Jun 09, 2014 Stefano rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Crystal-clear, a mandatory read for the amateur who wants to understand the original meaning of philosophy in relation to its contemporary one (and how the latter came to be historically).
The author argues that philosophy was originally meant as a global life style, to be pursued by means of spiritual as well as practical and intellectual excercises.
This is illustrated with explicit references to the main classical philosophical traditions, such as Academicism, Aristotelism, Cinicism, Epicureis
...more
Timothy Kestrel
Aug 11, 2013 Timothy Kestrel rated it it was amazing
What if I was to say that, in the end, your life was nothing but a stain on the pavement? Quite likely you would be offended and retort how I dare to utter such repulsive remark. However, in my defence I would say that is exactly the point for I am a philosopher. I am not here to please anyone. Philosophy as a way of life does not involve being rude, but it does mean to express ideas that may seem odd and/or offensive to some. I would also maintain that instead of being offended, you should answ ...more
Özgürel
Nov 02, 2013 Özgürel rated it it was ok
Despite his own thesis that ancient philosophy "was a mode of existing-in-the-world, which had to be practiced at each instant and the goal of which was to transform the whole of the individual's life", Hadot's book does not provide much information on the ancient philosophers' mode of existing in-the-world and the relationship between their philosophy and their way of life. There is not much historical evidence on the lives of ancient philosophers that their philosophy determined their way of l ...more
David A. Beardsley
Apr 17, 2013 David A. Beardsley rated it really liked it
Pierre Hadot is one of those rare philosophers who is willing to point out that Philosophy (with a capital P) has been taken over by the academics (of which he is one, certainly), to the detriment of its usefulness to humanity. It was not always this way, and need not be, as implied by the title of this book. He looks at some of the early schools among the Greeks, and shows how their original mission was self-knowledge. An excerpt:
Ancient philosophy proposed to mankind an art of living. By contr
...more
Gi Yoon Han
Aug 17, 2013 Gi Yoon Han rated it liked it
An impressive book that changes the outlook on ancient philosophy. It is very similar to Foucault in the way it tracks how spiritual exercises come about and evolved (or devolved, in that matter) during the course of Western thought.

The outlook, however, is not complete as Foucault often is in the disposition, as Hadot's coverage is limited to ancient philosophy, Goethe, Nietzsche, and a bit of Kierkegaard. It would have been better to limit the view to ancient philosophy alone and not cover Goe
...more
Sean A.
Concise, accessible links between "philosophy" and "lived experience". Read for Don Morse's Philosophy as Life class.
Daniele Palmieri
Da leggere per riscoprire il vero spirito della Filosofia, che da modo di vivere si è ormai trasformata in un becero gioco accademico dove le uniche cose che contano sono la cattedra e il numero di articoli pubblicati.
Benjamin
May 30, 2016 Benjamin rated it liked it
Self-help for would-be philosophers. De Botton avant-la-lettre. Rather boring and clichéd. Fails to move or provoke. Reads like the philosophical equivalent of a satisfied Socrates cultivating his garden...
Aeisele
Jan 14, 2009 Aeisele rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
This is a fantastic way to think about ancient philosophy, much more interesting that most current English-language scholarship (which tends to focus on "doctrines" at the expense of practice).
Saverio Mariani
Sep 19, 2012 Saverio Mariani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: filosofia
Un libro imprescindibile per chi ama la filosofia nella sua forma più pura, quella antica, greco-romana.
Un testo imprescindibile per chi ama e vive la filosofia.
Yuki kojima
Nov 03, 2008 Yuki kojima rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy
There is a lot of information in here but not the kind that I was looking for... I did not enjoy the thesis defending writing style.
Rodrigo
Dec 05, 2010 Rodrigo rated it it was amazing
outstanding. Must read
Reinier Markus
Sep 13, 2013 Reinier Markus rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Read the Dutch translation.
Sandra Schloemer
Sandra Schloemer rated it really liked it
Jun 24, 2016
Robby
Robby marked it as to-read
Jun 24, 2016
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Pierre Hadot (né à Paris, le 21 février 1922 - mort à Orsay, le 25 avril 2010) est un philosophe, historien et philologue français, spécialiste de l'antiquité, profond connaisseur de la période hellénistique et en particulier du néoplatonisme et de Plotin. Pierre Hadot est l'auteur d'une œuvre développée notamment autour de la notion d'exercice spirituel et de philosophie comme manière de vivre.

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