The Present Alone is Our Happiness: Conversations with Jeannie Carlier and Arnold I. Davidson
Stanford University Press, 2009 - Philosophy - 191 pages
In this book of brilliantly erudite and precise discussions, Pierre Hadot explains that for the Ancients philosophy was not reducible to the building of a theoretical system: it was above all a choice about how to live one's life.
One of the most influential historians of ancient philosophy in the world today, Hadot is adept at using ancient philosophers to illuminate the relevance of their ideas to contemporary life. In this book, which is an ideal introduction to Hadot's more scholarly What is Ancient Philosophy?, we learn that to be an Epicurean is not merely to think like one; it is to adopt a way of living where limiting desires is the condition for happiness. Being an Aristotelian, similarly, is to choose a life that involves contemplation, and being a Cynic is to follow Diogenes in his refusal of quotidian convention and the mentality of ordinary people. If so many Ancient philosophers founded schools, Hadot explains, it was precisely because they were proposing how to live life on a daily basis. We learn here that the history of philosophy has been something more than just that of a discourse. The founding texts of Greek philosophy, after all, were notes taken from oral exercises undertaken in concrete circumstances and contexts, most often a dialogue between students and specific interlocutors who meant to shed light on their students' real existence. The immense contribution of this book, which also traces Hadot's own personal itinerary in a touching manner, is to remind us, through direct language and numerous examples, what the theoretical aspect of philosophy often masks: its vital and existential dimensions.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - agl1 - LibraryThing
This is a great little book of interviews, mixing the biographical with the philosophical. One can get a good overview of Hadot's approach in a very accessible way. The concept of spiritual/ philosophical exercises is extremely powerful and a great way into Ancient Philosophy. Read full review
The present alone is our happiness: conversations with Jeannie Carlier and Arnold I. DavidsonUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
Hadot's (The Veil of Isis) early education for and experience in the Roman Catholic priesthood provided him with considerable exposure to philosophical traditions from ancient Greece through Thomas's ... Read full review