Book Review: A Guide to the Good Life
A Guide to the Good Life is written by Irvine, a Philosophy professor, who helps us understand and has implemented in his own life, a life philosophy based on roman stoicism. Stoics were one of many Greek philosophies that has survived in writings and had a popular philosophy school in Greek life. Stoic philosophers discovered and worked on thought ideas, but also focused on their life philosophy – a way of living with joy. The thesis the author puts forth is that stoic practices can be a guide to the good life in our modern day. In particular, a life philosophy might be a path for some of us to find joy.
The book is split into four parts:
- Part 1 – looks a the history of Stoic Philosophy and explains why the book focuses on the Roman Stoics as opposed to the early Greeks.
- Part 2 – looks into Psychological tricks/practices that stoics used in their life philosophy.
- Part 3 – looks at stoic values and how they relate to their practice.
- Part 4 – the author looks at our modern life and how the practice of stoics can fit with a modern life.
The best part of this book, from my perspective, is that many of the ideas from the stoics is summarized and packaged well so that I can understand them. In the past, I have tried to understand a variety of philosophies/religions including Stoicism, Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. but the historical texts can be very difficult to read and relate to. Irvine does a good job at explaining many stoic ideas in his book and creates a succinct review of how to practice stoicism.
Does this book relate to CollegeQandA?
This is a broader question since this book looks at a philosophy of life. This is a BIG metaphysical question that needs to be asked and thought about by each of us individually. Some specific ideas in the book, including negative visualization, seem to be applicable to helping us understand our needs in the world. These ideas do not directly relate to college, but similar to the ideas in mindfulness and meta-thinking, I believe that better understanding and control of ourselves relates to how we learn.
I would recommend this book to…
the “interested in life” and “how to think better” people. This means that, irrespective of your current beliefs and way of life, you are interested in other approaches to life and wonder how to improve your own mind.