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

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  5,913 Ratings  ·  497 Reviews
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 ...more
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
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Sophia Park
I picked this up from a recommendation on the Stoicism subreddit. I went there from a passing curiosity I developed while reading about Zen Buddhism, and I was curious about how they differed. I basically discovered a doctrine (sorry: philosophy of life) I was already living by, and it was kind of eerie reading it. I cleared it in 3-4 hours.

The book could've used less arguing with invisible people. It quickly adopts a defensive tone, as if universally persecuted - you're not selling Satanism to
1. می گویند در یونان باستان -برخلاف ایران باستان که حکومتی دیکتاتوری داشت- به سبب حکومت دموکراتیک اش، کسانی دارای شانیت بالاتر ِ اجتماعی بودند که توانایی شان در اقناع کردن مردمان بیشتر و بیشتر بود؛ از این رو بود که بازار مدارس آموزش فلسفه و منطق و جدل و خطابه داغ ِ داغ بود. در این بازار شلوغ که هر کس ادعای آموزش هنر زندگی به بهترین نحو را داشت سویی در دست افلاطونیان و آکادمی شان بود ، سویی در دست اپیکوریان، سویی برای مشاییان پیرو ارسطو، سویی سوفسطاییان و سویی کلبیون و ...در این میان گروهی از فلا ...more
Roy Lotz
There will be—or already has been!—a last time in your life that you brush your teeth, cut your hair, drive a car, mow the lawn, or play hopscotch.

In my review of Feeling Good, a self-help book, I noted the lack of practical philosophies in the modern world. Far from an original insight, I now see that this idea is a relatively common criticism of contemporary education and modern philosophy. The other day, for example, I stumbled upon a YouTube channel, the School of Life, an educational proj
Jun 05, 2015 Maryam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
رواقیان هم مثل بودایی ها ما را به فکر کردن به سرشت ناپایدار جهان فرا می خوانند. سنکا تاکید می کند که هر چیز انسانی زودگذر و ناپایدار است.مارکوس هم همین نکته را به ما گوشزد می کند که همه ی چیزهای ارزشمند ما انسان ها همچون برگ درختان به وزش بادی بندند.او تاکید می کند که ناپایداری و تغییر در جهان پیرامون ما امری تصادفی نیست بلکه جزء ضروری آن است
Fatemeh sherafati
وقتی که این کتاب رو خریده بودم فکر می کردم قرارِ با یه کتاب فلسفی روبرو بشم، اما کم کم که پیش می رفتم کم کم حس کردم تا حدودی دارم از فلسفه فاصله می گیرم.
کتاب من رو بیشتر به یاد کتاب های زرد می انداخت.

فصل اول، بیشتر معرفی تاریخ فلسفه ی رواقی، ومعرفی فیلسوف های رواقی بوده.
اما در ادامه، نویسنده بیشتر با بیانی تبلیغاتی تلاش کرده زندگی رواقی وار رو اونقدر خوب جلوه بده که خواننده ها هم این نوع زیستن رو انتخاب کنند.
یه جاهایی با نظر نویسنده موافق بودم، اما در بیشتر جاها مخالف، مثلا نویسنده یه جایی تشویق
Jan 18, 2009 Jeffrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There aren't many books written on a philosophy of life as there are 'philosophies' for life out there; and there aren't many books that exist in the great divide between academic philosophy and water-downed caricatures of philosophy (think Consolation of Philosophy but PART TWO...). Mr Irvine's book, however, provides one fairly detailed philosophy of life as Stoicism goes and bridges the divide by not only describing what is Stoicism but also, how to practice Stoicism for both tranquility and ...more
B. Rule
This book gets 5 stars for subject, 2 stars for execution. The Stoics themselves are fascinating and every quote is a gem. However, the author doesn't trust the ancient Stoics to carry the argument. Instead, his account is a series of straw man arguments ("you might think that a Stoic would eat babies, but there's another reading..." Not quite that bad but almost.). Further, when he gets to the section on updating Stoicism for the modern world, the section where he has to do the heavy lifting by ...more
Oct 13, 2016 Amir rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Recommended to: If you are interested in applying philosophical views and wisdom to your life and if you value tranquility and inner peace above all.

What this book is about: The author William Irvine who is a professor of philosophy at Wright Stare university after having read through many philosophy schools from Zen Buddhist to Cynics and Stoics has come into conclusion that living a stoic life is worth pursuing due to its promising benefit which is tranquility and joy. He has thus compiled tea
رؤیا (Roya)
فلسفه ای برای زندگی کتابی در توضیح و تشریح مکتب رواقیون و در نهایت رواقی زیستن در دنیای امروز است. کتاب از چهار بخش "ظهور رواقی گری", راهکارهای روانشناختی رواقی", "توصیه های رواقی" و "رواقی زیستن در زندگی مدرن" تشکیل شده است. مکتب رواقیون به دنبال الویت بندی ارزشهای زندگی و به دنبال راهی برای آرام طی کردن مسیر زندگی با قبول واقعیات و بهترین نحو برخورد با پیشامدهای زندگی میباشد. اولین رواقی زنون و مهم ترین آنان سنکا, موسونیوس, اپیکتتوس و مارکوس آورلیوس میباشند که نقطه نظراتشان و نحوه زندگی اشان د ...more
May 13, 2016 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Philosopher-kings, Zen Buddhists who suck at meditating, wannabe Vulcans
This was a pretty good if brief introduction to the Stoic philosophy. What's notable about it is that the author, William Irvine, is not merely presenting historical information about the Stoics, or a primer on Stoicism for purely educational purposes, but actually advocating Stoicism as a philosophy of life with applicability to modern Westerners. He spends some time talking about the history of the Stoic schools and pointing out that Stoics really did spend time constructing "proofs" that the ...more
Paula Vince
Sep 07, 2013 Paula Vince rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The author's first book, On Desire: Why We Want What We Want was great, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to read this new one. Professor Irvine suggests that many people are dissatisfied and gloomy because we unconsciously live a lifestyle he calls "enlightened hedonism", in which we try to maximise the pleasure we experience, believing that as soon as we achieve a given goal, we'll be happy. The problem is that other unfulfilled desires instantly well up to take their place. He puts for ...more
Mar 07, 2014 Darryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, stoicism
This popular book won't be of much interest to those who have already read Seneca, Epictetus, Musonius Rufus, and Marcus Aurelius, or, indeed, to anybody who has read a solid introduction to their thought.

Nor would it satisfy those looking for a clear and concise description of Stoic psychological techniques or 'exercises': for that, one might turn to "Stoic Spiritual Exercises" by Elen Buzare.

However, the book may be of interest to those seeking an easy-to-digest introductory exposition of Stoi
Neil White
As much as I wanted to like this book, I'm forced to give it little more than a resounding "meh" with a B+ for effort. As much as I enjoy the subject matter, and appreciated the author's attempt to bring an ancient philosophy in line with the present day (which he does do with success), the writing itself feels stuck somewhere between a soft, feel-good self-help title that helps one live their life to the fullest, and a serious academic study of an influential philosophy. It seems Irvine couldn' ...more
Paul Toth
Dec 09, 2012 Paul Toth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lucky for me, some years back I stumbled into Diogenes, who refused to write prescriptions but referred me to the Stoics and Cynics. Slowly, I learned how to better bear the onslaught of life's unnecessary absurdity and how to remember how, despite myself and you. If my reasoning seems circular, so's the earth. Irvine renders Stoicism a relevant and applicable philosophy of life, especially for those lacking the time and inclination to read the source material. I don't pick bones, but I will not ...more
C. Derick
Jun 16, 2012 C. Derick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Irvine presents Stoicism in its own context from the Roman period (which is the one where the ethics are more clearly developed, although it doesn't deal with the virtue and proto-physics of the Greek Stoics) and then puts it in a modern psychologized and evolutionary context.

First, this book is wonderfully layman friendly. He doesn't use the exact Greek and Roman terms. He doesn't discuss apatheia, prohairesis, and sunkatathesis. Dr. Irvine discusses tranquility, virtue, and reason. Dr. Irv
Nick Klagge
Jul 23, 2014 Nick Klagge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(tl;dr--nice book, Stoicism is awesome)

This was a very enjoyable and accessible book on Stoicism. The author describes himself as a "congenital Stoic," i.e. one whose mind is naturally in accordance with many aspects of Stoic philosophy, and I think I could be described as the same (thus my interest in reading this). For anyone who is interested, I also highly recommend some of the primary sources: the "Handbook" of Epictetus and the "Meditations" of Marcus Aurelius. They are very accessible too
حتماً کتابیست مفید و آموزهدار. امّا چند ایراد نیز بهنظرم میرسد که دارد. یکی از آنها عدمِ سازواریست. یعنی مجموعهی دیدگاههای این کتاب بهمثابهِ یک جهانبینش٬ یکدستی و سازواریِ مطلوبی ندارد. مشکلِ دیگرش این است که مغالطاتی منطقی در آن به چشم میخورد. بهخصوص در مواقعی که نویسنده با هدفِ دفعِ دخلِ مقدّر به تبیین و دفاع از دیدگاههای مکتبِ رواقی میپردازد. گاه این مغالطات آنقدر ابتداییاند که تعجّب میکردم از اینکه یک فیلسوف این سطرها را نوشته است. ولی در مجموع کتابِ غیرِمفیدی نبود و مواردی را هم از آن یاد گ ...more
Robin Friedman
Aug 05, 2013 Robin Friedman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Academic life often leads people in unexpected directions. William Irvine is Professor of Philosophy at Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio. After receiving his PhD from UCLA in 1980, Irvine taught and practiced analytic philosophy for many years before gradually losing interest in it as overly technical and removed from life. Irvine looked for other philosophical and personal options and came close to adopting a Zen Buddhist practice. He ultimately rejected Zen because it did not fit the anal ...more
Jul 23, 2014 Aniket rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book after having read The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman, and The obstacle is the way by Ryan Holiday, and parts of "Meditations". I would suggest the beginner to Stoicism to read Burkeman's book first, the concepts and principles involved stick better in Burkeman who backs up the principle tenets of Stoicism with extensive anecdotes, and cites psychological findings. Irvine's book is much more qualitative and self-help like, which is useful to refresh your understanding of Stoici ...more
Feb 07, 2015 Micole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very accessibly written, easy to apply guide to stoicism

Appreciate what you have (negative visualization)

Focus on what you can control (dichotomy/trichotomy of control) and do not concern yourself with things that are actually irrelevant (who invited you where, who complimented or insulted you)

Ask yourself, are you living by your values, not are you succeeding by someone else's (misguided) measures of success (wealth, material things, status symbols)

Practice poverty, discomfort, challenge... T
Apr 16, 2014 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book rather helpful and enjoyable to read. It's a good combination of the theoretical and practical. Earlier this year, I had been reading-up on Buddhism and, before that, on Taoism; I can see a pretty fair amount of overlap with Stoicism as it was outlined feels like a good midpoint between the two. And where Stoicism does diverge a bit, I'd say that is an even better fit for me. For instance, I have been doing some form of negative visualization my whole adult life, and ...more
Oct 20, 2016 Jon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very clear and fair introduction to stoicism, although I'm not sure who was the intended audience. If it was, as the author claims, the average person who needs (whether he knows it or not) to have a philosophy of life, then it was too repetitious and argumentative. If it was for professional philosophers (who I suspect were in the back of the author's mind), then it's not careful and precise enough. But it's a very fair summary of the views of Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius in much br ...more
Feb 28, 2017 Amin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: غیرادبی
به قول معروف هر چیزی باید ساده باشد، اما نه خیلی ساده! مخصوصا وقتی از فلسفه حرف می زنیم، خطر تبدیل کردن مفاهیم فلسفی به حرفهای روزمره وجود دارد و این اتفاقی است که تا حدی در این کتاب هم رخ داده است. یعنی گاهی انسان فکر می کند که با کتاب تجاری برای پروراندن مهارتهای شخصی روبرو است. البته این اتفاقی است که به صورت گسترده تری در مورد فلسفه رواقیون افتاده است و به عنوان برندی برای فروش محصولات فکری دنیای مدرن بکار میرود

در یک میانه کتاب، دو مشکل اصلی وجود دارد. اول، گاهی اندیشه های رواقی در یک عصر بر
I read about the idea of negative visualization as opposed to thinking positive in a different book and I was really interested in learning more about it and more about the Stoics who introduced it. In this book the author takes us through a journey of learning the Stoics practices. The ultimate goal of those practices is to achieve tranquility through various techniques such as distinguishing between the things we can control and the things we can’t control and observing those people who can me ...more
Carles Caño Valls
En 2016 leí 52 libros. Si tuviera que elegir solo uno, me quedaría sin duda con "A Guide to the Good Life" de William B. Irvine.

Lo leí en enero de 2016 y lo he vuelto a leer en enero de 2017. De hecho, lo releeré cada uno de enero para disfrutar de la lectura y para refrescarme los conceptos del estoicismo, filosofía de vida a la que me apunté tras leer este magnífico libro.

Es un libro que va a más, al principio hace una introducción de lo que es una "filosofía de vida" y de los riesgos de no te
Feb 04, 2015 Joost rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An introduction to an ancient philosophy of life in the form of a self-help book. One might be irritated by the form, if one feels themselves above such things. One might be irritated by the tone, which is, in a sense, defensive. It is exactly this tone that captures the point of this book, though. It is not a thorough essay on the virtues of stoicism, on its history, or a thorough philosophical investigation. It is not supposed to give the ardent student of ancient philosophy new material to st ...more
I have given 3 Stars only for the author's attempt at popularizing Stoic philosophy. I came to this book with a lot of expectations after reading Letters from a Stoic and maybe, that is why I am so disappointed with this book. It begins by giving a brief background of Stoic philosophy and its origin. The book also, frequently refers to prominent Stoic figures like Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Cato among others to highlight how they dealt "stoically" with various challenges in life. Then it goes on ...more
Sep 16, 2009 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a great introduction to the basic ideas of Stoic philosophy - not "stoic" in the common meaning of the word, but the ideas and practices of the Greek and Roman Stoic philosophers. Professor Irvine's wonderful book achieves a number of great things. First, he clarifies what Stoic philosophy is and isn't. But just as importantly, he does so by bringing the stoic philosophers to life for the reader. In doing so, he encourages the reader to go beyond his book and dive into the original ...more
Dec 30, 2015 Jordan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Stoicism, it seems, has been somewhat hard done by over the years, and this book gives a good history of the philosophy before getting into the specifics.

I was all onboard with this book until some of the specifics. The uncited claims about human beings' relationship with sex were quite strange, but that could be overlooked.

It was when the author began to talk about insults in regards to the disadvantaged (putting the term in quotation marks no less, so as to invalidate the idea that these peopl
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“Indeed, pursuing pleasure, Seneca warns, is like pursuing a wild beast: On being captured, it can turn on us and tear us to pieces. Or, changing the metaphor a bit, he tells us that intense pleasures, when captured by us, become our captors, meaning that the more pleasures a man captures, “the more masters will he have to serve.” 20 likes
“Your primary desire, says Epictetus, should be your desire not to be frustrated by forming desires you won’t be able to fulfill.” 18 likes
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