Philosphy as a way of life

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Hebrew Hammer
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Philosphy as a way of life

Post by Hebrew Hammer »

Over the years, there have been IGXers fond of stoicism. Philosphy as a way of life by Pierre Hadot is about how to do stoicism and epicureanism. His notion is that Greek philosophy was not about a set of doctrines - stoicism, Platonist forms, etc. - but it was about how to live life well. Thus Marcus Aurelius' meditations weren't his philosophy of life, they were spiritual exercises where he would meditate on the thoughts to help him think and feel right - to focus only on the present, to accept the outside world at every present moment and to realize he can control only his passions and thoughts, to live a life of reason. The epicureans practiced similar spiritual exercises but their end game was to take joy in the present.

Part of the spiritual exercises focused on natural philosophy - what we would call science - and the transcendence of being part of the cosmos. In later essays, Hadot deals with how these spiritual exercises still have value even though science has become purely empirical. He discusses other ways to feel that awe.

Interesting book in light of the discussions on the soul. If you're an empiricist like BD, stick to biochemistry and evolution textbooks. If you think humans are more than the sum of their chemistry and electricity, this is a rewarding book. Not easy reading, but you don't need to get every point - the big picture of how to use meditations is the payload.