Saturday, May 28, 2016

Philosophy as a Way of Life

I continue to enjoy and benefit from reading Pierre Hadot.  He is a noted French scholar and professor, and expert in the ancient Greek classical philosophers and Hellenistic philosophers.  The purpose of Hellenistic philosophy, in his interpretation, was to help the student to learn how to live a good life, be a better person, find fulfillment, and properly evolve and mature as a rational human being.  

What Is Ancient Philosophy? By Pierre Hadot. Translated from the French by Michael Chase. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002. Index, chronology, bibliography, notes, 362 pages. First published in French in 1995. 2004 Belknap reprint edition. ISBN: 978-0674013735. VSCL.

Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault By Pierre Hadot. Edited with an introduction by Arnold Davidson. Translated by Michael Chase. Malden, Massachusetts, Wiley-Blackwell, 1995. Index, extensive bibliography, 320 pages. ISBN: 978-0631180333. VSCL.

The ancient Chinese philosophers like Confucius, Chuang Tzu, and Lao Tzu were also thinkers that were making recommendations on how one should live one's life, how to behave, how to relate to other people, how to live in a community, and how to find happiness, peace, and tranquility.  They were less proto-scientists than early positive psychologists, and ethical thinkers.  Confucius is down to earth, direct, rather conventional, and understandable.  Chuang Tzu is more skeptical, and often uses tales and fables.  Lao Tzu is more cryptic, vague, and mystical.  An educated and curious mind seeking guidance on how to live might find these writers worth a look.  

The Ten Golden Rules: Ancient Wisdom from the Greek Philosophers on Living the Good Life.  By M.S. Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas.  Charlottsville, Virginia, Hampton Roads Pub., 2009.  128 pages.  Both authors are professors at Long Island University, C. W. Post Campus.  ISBN: 9781571746054.  VSCL. 

As my readers know, I favor those authors that advocate Epicurean, Hedonistic, Utilitarian, Pragmatic, and Secular lifestyles.  I do not favor authors that advocate a anti-scientific, dogmatic, and religious viewpoints.  I prefer thinkers to believers, naturalists to supernaturalists, friends of the body to haters of the body, pragmatists to dogmatists, peacemakers to warriors, laughing people to sour ascetics.   

"The results of all the schools and of all their experiments belong legitimately to us.  We will not hesitate to adopt a Stoic formula on the pretext that we have previously profited for Epicurean formulas."
-  Frederich Nietzsche, Posthumous Fragments, 1881

"I did nothing today." - "What?  Did you not live?  That is not only the most fundamental but the most illustrious of your occupations."
-  Montaigne, Essays, III, 13

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