The Deepest Human Life: An Introduction To Philosophy For Everyone

Paperback | April 3, 2015

byScott Samuelson

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Winner of the 2015 Hiett Prize in the Humanities. 

Sometimes it seems like you need a PhD just to open a book of philosophy. We leave philosophical matters to the philosophers in the same way that we leave science to scientists. Scott Samuelson thinks this is tragic, for our lives as well as for philosophy. In The Deepest Human Life he takes philosophy back from the specialists and restores it to its proper place at the center of our humanity, rediscovering it as our most profound effort toward understanding, as a way of life that anyone can live. Exploring the works of some of history’s most important thinkers in the context of the everyday struggles of his students, he guides us through the most vexing quandaries of our existence—and shows just how enriching the examined life can be.
           
Samuelson begins at the beginning: with Socrates, working his most famous assertion—that wisdom is knowing that one knows nothing—into a method, a way of approaching our greatest mysteries. From there he springboards into a rich history of philosophy and the ways its journey is encoded in our own quests for meaning. He ruminates on Epicurus against the sonic backdrop of crickets and restaurant goers in Iowa City. He follows the Stoics into the cell where James Stockdale spent seven years as a prisoner of war. He spins with al-Ghazali first in doubt, then in the ecstasy of the divine. And he gets the philosophy education of his life when one of his students, who authorized a risky surgery for her son that inadvertently led to his death, asks with tears in her eyes if Kant was right, if it really is the motive that matters and not the consequences. Through heartbreaking stories, humanizing biographies, accessible theory, and evocative interludes like “On Wine and Bicycles” or “On Zombies and Superheroes ,” he invests philosophy with the personal and vice versa. The result is a book that is at once a primer and a reassurance—that the most important questions endure, coming to life in each of us. 

 

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From the Publisher

Winner of the 2015 Hiett Prize in the Humanities.  Sometimes it seems like you need a PhD just to open a book of philosophy. We leave philosophical matters to the philosophers in the same way that we leave science to scientists. Scott Samuelson thinks this is tragic, for our lives as well as for philosophy. In The Deepest Human Life he...

Scott Samuelson lives in Iowa City, Iowa, where he teaches philosophy at Kirkwood Community College and is a movie reviewer, television host, and sous-chef at a French restaurant on a gravel road. 
Format:PaperbackDimensions:232 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:April 3, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022627277X

ISBN - 13:9780226272771

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Prelude on Light Pollution and the Stars

Part 1 What Is Philosophy?

1 Portrait of You as Odysseus
2 Portrait of Philosophy as Socrates

Interlude on Laughter and Tears

Part 2 What Is Happiness?

3 The Exquisite Materialism of Epicurus
4 The Mysterious Freedom of the Stoic

Interlude on Wine and Bicycles

Part 3 Is Knowledge of God Possible?

5 The Ecstasy without a Name
6 In Nightmares Begins Rationality
7 The Terrifying Distance of the Stars

Interlude on Campfires and the Sun

Part 4 What Is the Nature of Good and Evil?

8 The Moral Worth of a Teardrop
9 The Beast That Is and Is Not

Interlude on Superheroes and Zombies

Conclusion: The Most Beautiful Thing in the World

Acknowledgments
Recommended Further Reading
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

“For a survey of philosophical thought, Samuelson’s quirky, abundantly informed new book, The Deepest Human Life, is a surprisingly snappy read. A cynical elevator pitch might call it “philosophy for dummies,” but it’s not for dummies any more than it’s for overly serious chin-massagers. The book would be useful as either an introduction or a brush-up, and enjoyably personable in either instance.”