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Philosophy for Life: And Other Dangerous Situations

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,668 ratings  ·  163 reviews
In his engaging book, Jules Evans explains how ancient philosophy saved his life, and how we can all use it to become happier, wiser and more resilient. Jules imagines a dream school, which includes 12 of the greatest and most colourful thinkers the world has ever known. Each of these ancient philosophers teaches a technique we can use to transform our selves and live bett ...more
Paperback, 292 pages
Published May 3rd 2012 by Rider
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Donald Robertson
Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy

Jules has written a superb introduction to practical philosophy.  This book is perhaps quite unique, although it’s written in a very accessible style.  I think I read it in the space of 2-3 days.  It introduces the reader to a range of classical philosophical ways of life, by means of many anecdotes and examples that paint a vivid picture of how modern followers of these philosophies make use of them in coping with adversity and living meaningful and satisfying lives.  Jules begins with three ch

Nicolay Hvidsten
I'm not sure whether it is the particular order in which I read the following books that caused the profound cumulative effect they had on me, or if they can be read in any order and still have the same effect, or indeed if they possibly can have the same effect on another person, but for the mere chance that they might, I'm listing them here:

The Tao of Pooh - by Benjamin Hoff
The Antidote - by Oliver Burkeman
The Power of Now - by Eckhart Tolle
Awaken the Giant Within - by Anthony Robbins
Deep Work
Emma Sea
A marvellous book which summarizes the major strands of classical philosophy and describes how they might be incorporated into contemporary life.

The author writes from a position of having overcome depression and despair through finding life-meaning in philosophy, however at the conclusion of the book (view spoiler)
Sep 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Jules Evans enters Alain De Botton territory here as he gives a populist take on Ancient Greek philosophers and how their ideas can be used as therapy. I thought he was going to focus mainly on the Stoics, but he covers a fair bit of ground. It might have been better just to stick to the Stoics, though. He finds links with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and interviews a lot of people who have applied the ideas of the philosophers in their own lives. What I do like is his level-headed critical appro ...more
M. Nasiri
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is about psychological roots in ancient philosophy(CBT,Positive Psychology,etc.) which I read in

-Self-development is about more than just reading a few books (or blinks) on the topic. Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers show us it is a way of life – a daily practice – which involves asking the difficult questions of how we should live, both as individuals and as a society.

Actionable advice:

Keep a journal of your own behavior, updating it every evening.

When you wa
Oct 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Philosophy for Life is a brief overview of the philosophical ideas and thoughts of twelve of the most famous (ancient Greek) philosophers – from Epictetus and Pythagoras to Diogenes and Socrates. Writer and teacher Jules Evans not only explores the brilliant insights of these ancient philosophers, but also tries to examine how to apply their ideas to our own everyday lives. In doing so, he uses real life case examples of people who have implemented philosophy in their lives and way of thinking. ...more
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
Practical Philosophy. This book uses ancient Greek and Hellenistic Philosophy to live a better life and indeed help one define the good life. It focuses on Stoicism and its relationship with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and how to use the common sense maxim that there is little under our total control in life save our appraisal and evaluation of the situation. We can control our attitude to the slings and arrows of life and change how we react to them and respond rationally and hopefully with s ...more
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It was an interesting read. My first glimpse to the world of phlosophy. I didn't know there is a connection between philosophy and psychology beside they come with the same first alphabet 'P'. Definitely will re-read and make reference whenever is necessary.

Socrates - Headmaster of School of Athens
Epictetus - Stoics, some things are up to us, and others are not
Epicurus - materialist
Plato / Pythagoras - believed in reincarnation
Heraclitus - believed in a cosmic intelligence made of fire
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Stoics try to make a clear-eyed appraisal of the world we live in so its blows are not unexpected. We live, Seneca writes, in the realm of Fortune, and “her rule is harsh and unconquerable, and at her whim we will endure suffering deserved and undeserved. She will waste our bodies by violent, cruel and insulting means: some she will burn with fire…some she will put in chains…some she will toss naked onto the shifting seas…”7 She will bring down cities, drink up seas, divert rivers…in fact, she d ...more
Richard Cox
Nov 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Before reading this book, I never realized there was a connection between Stoic philosophy and the modern counseling practice of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). But philosophy was the psychological self-help of its time in ancient Greece and Rome. This book walks you through several schools of philosophy, explaining their origins and introducing you to contemporary practitioners of each. It's an interesting read and, if nothing else, a good review of ancient philosophy. For me, it's kindled ...more
Noor AlGadheb
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
I liked the first part of the book the most, later on the writer mentioned too many names and too many stories which made the book a little bit boring.
Jon Stout
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: faddists and self-helpers
Shelves: philosophy
When I first heard of Jules Evans’ book, it seemed like a good survey of the “life style” philosophers, the post-Socratics with an attitude, namely the Stoics, the Cynics, the Epicureans, and the Skeptics. It also promised to relate their attitudes to contemporary life, which seemed like a bonus. The book delivered on these promises, but not in a way that I found very satisfying. Most of the philosophies were put in a nutshell of a sentence or two, with little detailed attention, and then a pres ...more
Steve Greenleaf
Dec 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Serendipity once again rode to my rescue in a chaotic Indian bookstore (actually, the pretty good Modern Book Centre here in Trivandrum). I spied Philosophy for Life, by an author unknown to me. A quick perusal of the TOC revealed that it addressed Stoicism, Epicureanism, Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Skepticism, Cynicism, Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, and of course, the godfather of them all, Socrates. One can surmise from the all-star cast that it couldn’t help but to prove worthwhile. It did.

Evans te
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book doesn't go into detail into any single philosophy. Its just a collection of various Greek philosophies but in the end you are more confused then ever.

The author tells in the first few pages that his life was saved due to this but what he essentially got was a few CBT techniques to deal with his anxiety. I wouldn't call that a philosophy of life.

Moreover, in the end he reveals that he had a near death experience which caused him to reconsider his life choices and gave him a clear pers
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great introduction to practical philosophy and how it ties into more modern practices such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Jules also does a great job weaving in stories of people using philosophy to help them overcome depression, social anxiety, PTSD, etc.
Vikas Datta
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Simply wonderful... very well presented account of how the teachings of the old philosophers are still relevant today, along with some necessary caveats.
For most, philosophy is a subject that screams impotent academic prattle, the practice of strange individuals who are clearly paid too much to gaze into their navels and pontificate on the Meaning of Lint. That reputation is a modern one, achieved only in the last century, for most of western history philosophy was the common fount of all knowledge and artistic endeavor. It guided not only men’s thoughts about how the world was, but how they should act within it. The streets of ancient Athens w ...more
Oeystein Hanssen
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Philosophy for life, Jules Evans provides a superb and actionable introduction to ancient/Greek philosophy and proves that it’s still very applicable today. Much of this ancient knowledge is actually used by western psychologists today through e.g. Cognitive Behavorial Therapy (CBT) with very good results.

Evans argues all the Greek schools of thought follows the same first 3 steps in accordance with the Socratic model for living the good life:
1. We can know ourselves
2. We can change ourselves
Sep 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
First, the negatives. The authors bias comes through as the book progresses. He used CBT (cognitive behavioural psychology) after having issues when he was younger, and it seems that the whole books is based on those CBT principles backed out in to their philosophical origins. While this isn't a problem in itself, I definitely sensed his bias towards those things that complied with CBT, and rejection of those against it.

Positives / Core takeaways and quotes...

1 - Socrates and Street Philosophy

Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
truly inspiring, an excellent read to finish on NYE!
Michael Huang
Mar 11, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: blinkisted
[Interesting blinks introducing CBT (cognitive based therapy) and its links to Ancient Greek philosophies. Worth a scan...]
Heather Jones
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction

In my college humanities courses, I studied a little bit about philosophy. I learned the names of important philosophers, and to summarize their teachings, and in some cases, I learned how those philosophers influenced the literature and politics of their time, or were influenced by them. As far as I remember, I didn't learn that philosophy could be a tool for improving myself and my life in college. That, I learned on my own.
About five years ago, a post on Boing Boing, of all places, led me on
Michael A
Mar 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
What happens when an intelligent, self-reflective journalist tries to piece together an eclectic approach to living through reading philosophy? I can envision a lot of things resulting from this kind of search, but, in this case, this book is the result.

This is a great book to introduce one to a lot of different philosophers and ideas. That's because it is written with the clarity that only a journalist can bring to bear on a subject like this. True to form, there are also plenty of real-life pe
Mike W
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book. It covers a broad collection of ancient Western philosophy, distilling the essential contributions of each, and points out the elements that are common to all of them. But it does so not merely as an acadmic pursuit, but because the author believes that the great thinkers of antiquity, Socrates, Plato Aristotle, Epictetus and the rest, had discovered important truths about life and human nature that can help us now.

Indeed, it is because we have forgotten much of this a
John Turlockton
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Quite poor. It was good when he was actually outlining what the particular philosopher believed, but this was very rare, I think he did it with two of the philosophers in the entire book, the rest of the time he spent ranting about something or other at best tangentially related.

It's also very Greco-centric, that is, it's entirely based around a smattering of ancient Greek philosophers, completely ignoring the huge array of philosophies and philosophers from other places and locales.

He also does
William Nist
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Do not be afraid! This romp through Ancient Western Philosophy is breezy and uncomplicated. The Stoics, Epicureans, Cynics, as well as Plato and Aristotle are examined. The author mixes his own life experience into the survey and invites you to do the same. He feels everyone needs a 'philosophy of life', and studying the ancients is a very good place to start.

My only grip is the "lens of extroversion" in which he writes and interprets these philosophers. I am tired of hearing I need others to r
Victor Finn
This is a really phenomenal book. Evans writing style is really accessible and he writes about old things in a very unique way, so that even if you are already familiar with all of the classical greek philosophers you will still get a fresh spin on them.

The best part about this work is the fact that he interviews and does research on people who are trying to apply these philosophies to their real lives. I have read a lot of the primary texts of western philosophy, but reading this made me aware
Anirban Chatterjee
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Overall a nice read, and indeed it inspires the reader to turn to practical philosophy as a way of coping up with the extremities and challenges of life. The examples mentioned in the book are brilliant, but the real content - I.e the philosophical stuff is really less.

It showcases the various philosophies for living a practical life, and exemplifies them beautifully. But it fails to give us much practical suggestions or tricks to use those philosophies in our lives.

This is where, I guess, the
Alberto Roman
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
I found this book through a chaotic search for self-help reading where nothing I was finding was keeping my attention. All the suggestions on recommended reading and best of lists couldn't keep me interested passed a few pages.

Jules Evans manages to get his thoughts, ideas and information to the reader in a manner that doesn't so much "grip" you, but invites you into the conversation. The book covers many topics from ancient philosophy and how they apply, or don't apply, to our lives and world
Boy Under the Bride
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
LOVED IT! A great introduction to history's most well known philosophers, and what united, and set them apart, from one another. The real substance of the book however, comes from interviews and stories surrounding more modern attempts to revive these philosophical approaches. Just like the way education should be, no particular viewpoint is forced upon the reader, rather several are provided to allow the reader to make their own decision.
I particularly enjoyed the way Jules managed to simultane
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Jules is policy director at the Centre for the History of the Emotions, at Queen Mary, University of London. He is also co-organiser of the London Philosophy Club, and is researching and promoting the growth of philosophy clubs around the world.

He's written on philosophy and psychology for the Financial Times, Wired, The Times, Spectator, Prospect, The Observer, Psychologies and others; presented

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