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The Examined Life: Philosophical Meditations

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  294 ratings  ·  27 reviews
One of this century’s most original philosophical thinkers, Nozick brilliantly renews Socrates’s quest to uncover the life that is worth living. In brave and moving meditations on love, creativity, happiness, sexuality, parents and children, the Holocaust, religious faith, politics, and wisdom, The Examined Life brings philosophy back to its preeminent subject, the things ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published December 15th 1990 by Simon Schuster (first published 1989)
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3.73  · 
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 ·  294 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Dec 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I come back to this book frequently, in my thinking and in certain of the classes I teach. Breathtaking is a word that comes to mind, in the way Nozick tests his philosophical skills against what used to be called the human condition. Highly recommended if you're interested in reflecting on the things we take for granted in life.
Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it

"Freud tellingly depicted the strong and lingering effects of an even younger age, how the child's passionate desires, inadequate understanding, restricted emotional environment, constricted opportunities, and limited coping devices become fixed upon his own adult emotional life and reactions and continue to affect them. This situation is (to say the least) unseemly-- would you design an intelligent species so continuingly shaped by its childhood, one whose emotions had no half-life and wh
Dec 15, 2015 rated it liked it
'I do not say with Socrates that the unexamined life is not worth living – that is unnecessarily harsh. However, when we guide our lives by our own pondered thoughts, it then is our life that we are living, not someone else's. In this sense, the unexamined life is not lived as fully.'

Taking a cue from the introduction, this book might also have been called 'The Life Not Lived on Auto Pilot.' If my own experience is anything like the typical one, that is the easiest type of life to lead. Insidiou
Begüm Saçak
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
A great source for philosophy enthusiasts and people who love to think. The author brings up several themes and discuss them from a philosophical point of view. Some parts are hard to grasp so you might want to read them multiple times. One thing, and maybe that's the beauty of this book, is that I don't always agree with the author's points. It was a different kind of experience to find out what I think about certain things in comparison to author's ideas.
Feb 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of all of Robert Nozick's books that I have read this is the one to which I return most frequently. He displays a depth of thought, references to other thinkers, and a prose style which I find inviting. That is I am spurred to think about how and why I agree or disagree with the author, but more importantly find the process of reading him a catalyst for my own thinking.
Happiness is just one of the subjects essayed in this book but it is a good example as when you encounter Nozick saying:"And al
Peter Broady
Jul 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Though I don't agree with the libertarian philosophy that (unfortunately) made him famous, I love reading Nozick more than perhaps any other philosopher I have encountered. This book is especially enjoyable, because it's non-technical and personal. Nozick had a gift for generating powerful and novel ideas, and that gift is on display here as he discusses various important topics in everyday life.
Khalil James
Jul 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Nozick asks his audience not to do what I am prone to do here in this review, i.e. attempt to summarize the contents of his book. I appreciate the sense of social responsibility expressed during these meditations, and the effort Nozick makes to gently guide the reader into questioning the aspects of our existence; ones that have remained on history's discussion forum. The conclusions embodied in 'Examined Life' prompts the reader toward a truth that is his/her own, while providing some intellect ...more
Oct 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
This book covered a wide variety of philosophical topics. It's overall pretty easy to read, especially in the beginning, though I did get a bit confused on how he differentiated value, meaning, height, depth, etc.
Charlee Ziegler
May 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am only a little ways into this book, and it is extremely absorbing and terrific. More to come soon.
Mar 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Reflect and introspect with an esteemed mind.
Aug 23, 2010 is currently reading it
My brain is working with great effort to finish this.
Oct 23, 2007 marked it as to-read
This was on Shirley Mullen's recommended reading list under the category of "philosophy."
Patricia Joynton
I am rating this after my reading in the 80's or so. BUT, I remember Nozick and I recall how much I enjoyed the book. It is on my list of re-reads. He was my introduction to libertarianism, which I think I still hold as part of my make-up, though a bit more understanding of the absolute need of caring of some of our most destitute individuals.
Antonio Gallo
E' possibile pensare la vita? C'è chi lo fa giorno per giorno, con grande sofferenza e partecipazione. Chi invece non sa cosa pensare. A dire il vero, non ci pensa proprio a come vive. Il più delle volte, addirittura, molti non sanno nemmeno che stanno vivendo e, se lo sanno, vivono come se non dovessero mai morire.

Robert Nozick, professore alla prestigiosa Harvard University a soli trent'anni, ne "La vita pensata" (1989) affronta le questioni più familiari e importanti della nostra vita con il
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Nozick is most famous for his defense of libertarianism in Anarchy, State and Utopia. I consider myself a libertarian, but ultimately found myself unsatisfied with it. People spoke of how original it was and how rigorous. But it was like that old saw, what was good wasn't original; what wasn't original wasn't good. I had found far better arguments for liberty. And far more accessible to the layman than the academic talk and symbolic logic filling Anarchy, State and Utopia.

The Examined Life is a
Lukas op de Beke
Feb 02, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nozick's musings in Examined Life are varied and interesting. His political leanings after a lifetime of philosophizing are much less brash than the ideas in his earlier work, Anarchy, State and Utopia. He no longer espouses anarcho-capitalism, and arguably not even libertarianism, making this, for better or for worse, the less shocking of the two books.

The other essays on non-political topics are interesting and occasionally enlightening, but not consistently enough to have me reaching for the
Ravi J.
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: general-design
The book may not be astonishing for the areas touched upon, giving insight into human desires/life in general. It's core strength lies in that the language is easy and clear to comprehend his observations.
Ginger Hill
Oct 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
I loved the order of this book. I thought it was pretty well written. Some of the comments I agreed with completely, but it got a little too spiritual for me towards the end. Overall, it was quite good.
Greg Tilden
Jun 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
Did not complete because I lost interest, was not hooked on his somewhat pompous approach to philosophy.
Sam Snideman
Nov 21, 2013 rated it liked it
some of the meditations were more interesting than others, but overall a worthwhile read.
A review of Philosoph and the cannon but viewed through lines rather than authors Very Useful
Feb 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
meditaciones filosóficas muy interesante
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Robert Nozick was an American philosopher and professor at Harvard University. He was educated at Columbia (A.B. 1959, summa cum laude), where he studied with Sidney Morgenbesser, at Princeton (Ph.D. 1963), and Oxford as a Fulbright Scholar. He was a prominent American political philosopher in the 1970s and 1980s. He did additional but less influential work in such subjects as decision theory and ...more
“And although it might be best of all to be Socrates satisfied, having both happiness and depth, we would give up some happiness in order to gain the depth.” 21 likes
“There are few books that set out what a mature person can believe - someone fully grown up, I mean. Aristotle's 'Ethics', Marcus Aurelius's 'Meditations', Montaigne's 'Essays', and the essays of Samuel Johnson come to mind. Even with these, we do not simply accept everything that is said. The author's voice is never our own, exactly; the author's life is never our own. It would be disconcerting, anyway, to find that another person holds precisely our views, responds with our particular sensibility, and thinks the same things important. Still, we gain from these books, weighing and pondering ourselves in their light. These books - and also some less evidently grown-up ones, Thoreau's 'Walden' and Nietzsche's writings, for example - invite or urge us to think along with them, branching in our own directions. We are not identical with the books we read, but neither would we be the same without them.” 0 likes
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