Monday, June 25, 2018

Julian Baggini — Book clinic: which books best explain why life is worth living?


These excerpts summarize the answer I would have given, too.

Q. Which books can tell me, from a philosophical standpoint, what makes life worthwhile or worth living?
A. Philosopher and author Julian Baggini writes: 
Surprisingly, few of the world’s great philosophers have directly addressed this question. Instead, they have focused on a subtly different question: what does it mean to live well?
In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle emphasised the need to cultivate good character, finding the sweet spot between harmful extremes. For example, generosity lies between the extremes of meanness and profligacy, courage between cowardice and rashness. A remarkably similar vision is presented in the Chinese classics The Analects of Confucius and Mencius.…
Should all else fail, there is my own What’s It All About?, which aims to shows how philosophy does not so much answer the big questions as help provide us with the resources to answer them for ourselves.
Some of the most important questions are "the enduring questions" that have to be approach anew in every era and also answered personally.

One of these enduring questions is, what does it mean to live a good life as an individual in a good society.

The Guardian
Book clinic: which books best explain why life is worth living?
Julian Baggini

See also

Good review that reconciles opposing viewpoints. Ibn Khaldun was a precursor of modern sociology and economics. Longish.

3:AM Magazine — Whatever It Is, We Are Against It
Good Orientalism: Robert Irwin vs Ernest Gellner on Ibn Khaldun. Boom!
Richard Marshall


Matt Franko said...

“finding the sweet spot between harmful extremes.“

NAIRU would qualify for this....

Noah Way said...

Pretty much any book on Zen. Although the Dalai Lama can be a tough read.

Tom Hickey said...

“finding the sweet spot between harmful extremes.“

"Moderation in all things."

Closely related to, "Nothing in excess," and possibly derived from it.

Both were ancient Greek sayings and their origin is not known for sure, probably stemming from 6th c. BCE (Axial Age).

Aristotle used this in his doctrine of the mean and "hitting the mark" in Nichomachean Ethics.

I would say that the most important works in ancient Greek philosophy for general reading as well as their subsequent influence are Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics.

lastgreek said...

Aw shucks, I'm late to this thread :(

Well, I just want to say that while I was waiting in line to pay at the grocery store, today, I showed the wicked side of my character when I lost my temper at the women ahead of me because she insisted on having the manager confirm a price check. You see, a mere employee was not good enough for her. Lost my cool and went all "Trump" on her. So wholly un-Aristotelian of me, but damn did it feel good ;)