A Field Guide to a Happy Life: 53 Brief Lessons for Living

Massimo Pigliucci. Basic, $20 (160p) ISBN 978-1-54164-693-3
Pigliucci (How to Live a Good Life), professor of philosophy at City College of New York, delivers a shrewd take on Stoic philosophy that’s one part inspiration and one part manual for cultivating resilience in daily life. Pigliucci advocates for the daily application of the ancient philosophy’s four cardinal virtues—wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation—as an antidote to modern fixations on fame, wealth, and comfort. In his exhortations to readers to simply focus on what they can control, such as one’s personal character, Pigliucci focuses particularly on Epictetus (50–135 CE), who started out a slave and ended up a Stoic sage. Applying the tenets of Epictetus’s guide to the good life (The Enchiridion) to contemporary issues and sensibilities—such as social justice and secularism—Pigliucci offers 53 Stoic proverbs applicable to the 21st century (“reorient your likely misguided desires and aversions”; “prepare yourself to behave justly to other people”) and a summary of how modern Stoicism differs from that of Epictetus (“do not congratulate yourself for things that don’t really belong to you. Do you have a nice car? The merit goes to the engineers who conceived it”). Pigliucci’s prudent advice will have broad appeal among philosophically inclined readers of self-help. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/10/2020
Release date: 09/15/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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