A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B IrvineA Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B Irvine

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

byWilliam B Irvine

Hardcover | November 29, 2008

Pricing and Purchase Info

$20.18 online 
$21.95 list price save 8%
Earn 101 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Available in stores


One of the great fears many of us face is that despite all our effort and striving, we will discover at the end that we have wasted our life. In A Guide to the Good Life, William B. Irvine plumbs the wisdom of Stoic philosophy, one of the most popular and successful schools of thought inancient Rome, and shows how its insight and advice are still remarkably applicable to modern lives. In A Guide to the Good Life, Irvine offers a refreshing presentation of Stoicism, showing how this ancient philosophy can still direct us toward a better life. Using the psychological insights and the practical techniques of the Stoics, Irvine offers a roadmap for anyone seeking to avoid thefeelings of chronic dissatisfaction that plague so many of us. Irvine looks at various Stoic techniques for attaining tranquility and shows how to put these techniques to work in our own life. As he does so, he describes his own experiences practicing Stoicism and offers valuable first-hand advicefor anyone wishing to live better by following in the footsteps of these ancient philosophers. Readers learn how to minimize worry, how to let go of the past and focus our efforts on the things we can control, and how to deal with insults, grief, old age, and the distracting temptations of fame andfortune. We learn from Marcus Aurelius the importance of prizing only things of true value, and from Epictetus we learn how to be more content with what we have. Finally, A Guide to the Good Life shows readers how to become thoughtful observers of their own life. If we watch ourselves as we go about our daily business and later reflect on what we saw, we can better identify the sources of distress and eventually avoid that pain in our life. By doingthis, the Stoics thought, we can hope to attain a truly joyful life.
William B. Irvine is Professor of Philosophy at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He is the author of On Desire: Why We Want What We Want.
Title:A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic JoyFormat:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 5.31 × 7.09 × 1.3 inPublished:November 29, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195374614

ISBN - 13:9780195374612

Look for similar items by category:


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Introduction to Stoicism Unless you are an avid reader of philosophical texts or a self-help addict, it is rare that you will read a book that causes you to completely re-evaluate the way that you are living your life. Aimed towards what Irvine calls "nonphilosophers," A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy is intended as a modern interpretation of Stoicism that can serve as a practical guide for living a good and happy life. In this regard, it succeeds spectacularly. I am what Irvine would describe as being a "congenital Stoic," one who's personality and natural disposition seem to correspond with the principles espoused by the ancient Stoics. Though I have long suspected this to be the case, which is what sparked my interest in the philosophy to begin with, it is only just recently that I have made the decision to delve headlong into a proper study of capital "S" Stoicism. As such, I have only a limited familiarity with the primary Stoic texts, and some awareness of current discussions within the online Stoic community that has blossomed alongside a renewed interest in Stoicism in these last few decades. Despite the general consensus that Irvine’s book presents what may be the clearest and most accessible interpretation of Stoicism available today, it is in fact quite controversial among some circles of the Stoic community, its critics claiming that the book waters down and even distorts many central elements of the philosophy. I would react to these criticisms by pointing out that Irvine is careful to stop and acknowledge the ways in which his interpretation of Stoicism differs from those of the ancients throughout the book. I must admit that his logic for some of these departures is not always completely satisfying, but never did I feel as though I had been cheated out of hearing the message of the ancient Stoics as originally intended. Ultimately these criticisms may boil down to just how closely one wishes to adhere to the tenets of Greek and Roman Stoicism, and how much they are willing to compromise or adapt those ideas to become more applicable to their everyday lives. A quote from Seneca resonates particularly strongly here: “I do not bind myself to some particular one of the Stoic masters; I, too, have the right to form an opinion.” (“On the Happy Life,” III.2.) Irvine stresses from the very beginning that he has set out to offer modern readers an interpretation of Stoicism that will be of use to them in the 21st century, and that is precisely what he has done. Perhaps even more significantly, he has written a book that has contributed greatly in returning Stoicism to the public consciousness after nearly two thousand years of ill-deserved dismissal.
Date published: 2017-07-27

Editorial Reviews

"Irvine's intended audience is nonphilosophers, but everyone can profit from his clear presentation on the on the benefits of using philosophical doctrines to live a meaningful life."--Library Journal "Bill Irvine has given us a great gift: the most accessible and inviting description of modern Stoicism available. Read this book and be prepared to change your life!"--Sharon Lebell, author of Epictetus's The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness "Well-written and so compelling, this is a rare example of a book that actually will make a difference in the lives of its readers. Whether it's coping with grief or arriving at lasting happiness, Irvine shows, with care and verve, ancient Stoic wisdom to be ever relevant and very, very helpful." --Gary Klein, author of Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions "Never have I seen so delightful, empathetic, and supple a presentation of Stoicism as Irvine gives us here. Hardly Christian even in sensibilities, the Stoics were, none the less, wise in the ways of life, a benison Irvine exposes, and then delivers here, with panache and great acumen."--Phyllis Tickle, author of The Divine Hours