cover image How to Live a Good Life: A Guide to Choosing Your Personal Philosophy

How to Live a Good Life: A Guide to Choosing Your Personal Philosophy

Edited by Massimo Pigliucci, Skye C. Cleary, and Daniel Kaufman. Vintage, $16.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-525-56614-4

Philosophy professors Pigliucci, Cleary, and Kaufman deliver on their goal of providing a “glimpse of how the world looks through [the] respective lenses” of 15 major philosophies in this anthology featuring an impressive array of contributors. The short essays are divided into four categories—ancient Eastern philosophies, ancient Western philosophies, religious traditions, and modern philosophies—and admirably avoid jargon. Philosophy professor Owen Flanagan poses a thought experiment with a question he asked the Dalai Lama in 2000: should a genocidal murderer, such as Hitler, be killed? He then uses the lama’s response, “Yes, kill him. But don’t be angry,” to explore the importance of viewing anger as always inappropriate. Kaufman provides a succinct yet comprehensive overview of Aristotelianism, and Pigliucci does the same for Stoicism. In the book’s standout essay, Anne Klaeysen, a clergy leader at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, explores the appeal of “ethical culture” regardless of belief using instances in which religion has been irrational and dangerous—as when a transgender woman was shunned by her ultra-Orthodox community. Readers interested in thinking more about their life-choices and options for change will be grateful for this practical guide to, as the authors write in their conclusion, the “possibilities to learn from, ponder, and perhaps adopt.” (Jan.)