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The Art of Living: The Stoics on the Nature and Function of Philosophy

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It is a commonplace to say that in antiquity philosophy was conceived as a way of life or an art of living, but precisely what such claims amount to has remained unclear. If ancient philosophers did think that philosophy should transform an individual's way of life, then what conception of philosophy stands behind this claim? John Sellars explores this question via a detai It is a commonplace to say that in antiquity philosophy was conceived as a way of life or an art of living, but precisely what such claims amount to has remained unclear. If ancient philosophers did think that philosophy should transform an individual's way of life, then what conception of philosophy stands behind this claim? John Sellars explores this question via a detailed account of ancient Stoic ideas about the nature and function of philosophy. He considers the Socratic background to Stoic thinking about philosophy and Sceptical objections raised by Sextus Empiricus, and offers readings of late Stoic texts by Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. Sellars argues that the conception of philosophy as an 'art of living', inaugurated by Socrates and developed by the Stoics, has persisted since antiquity and remains a living alternative to modern attempts to assimilate philosophy to the natural sciences. It also enables us to rethink the relationship between an individual's philosophy and their biography. The book appears here in paperback for the first time with a new preface by the author.


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It is a commonplace to say that in antiquity philosophy was conceived as a way of life or an art of living, but precisely what such claims amount to has remained unclear. If ancient philosophers did think that philosophy should transform an individual's way of life, then what conception of philosophy stands behind this claim? John Sellars explores this question via a detai It is a commonplace to say that in antiquity philosophy was conceived as a way of life or an art of living, but precisely what such claims amount to has remained unclear. If ancient philosophers did think that philosophy should transform an individual's way of life, then what conception of philosophy stands behind this claim? John Sellars explores this question via a detailed account of ancient Stoic ideas about the nature and function of philosophy. He considers the Socratic background to Stoic thinking about philosophy and Sceptical objections raised by Sextus Empiricus, and offers readings of late Stoic texts by Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. Sellars argues that the conception of philosophy as an 'art of living', inaugurated by Socrates and developed by the Stoics, has persisted since antiquity and remains a living alternative to modern attempts to assimilate philosophy to the natural sciences. It also enables us to rethink the relationship between an individual's philosophy and their biography. The book appears here in paperback for the first time with a new preface by the author.

30 review for The Art of Living: The Stoics on the Nature and Function of Philosophy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Harrison K Miller

    This was very much introductory, despite the constant use of Greek (there is a glossary in the back, so don’t let that deter you) and despite the fact that he sometimes over complicated things. Some chapters were extremely repetitive. How many different ways can you restate the point that philosophical practice is like shoemaking or medical practice? Read this book and find out. The comparison was a good one, it just wasn’t hard to grasp and yet he kept restating it over and over again. The comp This was very much introductory, despite the constant use of Greek (there is a glossary in the back, so don’t let that deter you) and despite the fact that he sometimes over complicated things. Some chapters were extremely repetitive. How many different ways can you restate the point that philosophical practice is like shoemaking or medical practice? Read this book and find out. The comparison was a good one, it just wasn’t hard to grasp and yet he kept restating it over and over again. The comparison was that philosophy, like shoemaking & medicine, requires knowledge of principles first, but that knowledge is only the foundation of the most important aspect of philosophy, which is the practice or exercise of a philosophical life - the art of living - the pursuit of wisdom. The overarching point of the book, that philosophy was / should be conceived as a way of life rather than the sophisticated and highly technical form of argumentation it has devolved into, is an important one, and I wholeheartedly agree. However, I think Pierre Hadot’s work is a better place to go and get that idea. Even as a translation, Hadot is much more enjoyable to read, and I find that there is much more wisdom and insight in his books.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jenefer

    Hello Friends i am so glad to write this article today to tell the world how Dr Oso cured my Herpes virus that have been in body since five years ago, ever since then my life has been in complete, I have used so many drugs that was prescribed to me by several doctors, but it didn't cure my Herpes VIRUS neither did it reduce the pain, i was checking for solution on the internet then miraculously came across Dr Oso the powerful herbalist that cure Herpes INFECTION, then i contacted his email, i ex Hello Friends i am so glad to write this article today to tell the world how Dr Oso cured my Herpes virus that have been in body since five years ago, ever since then my life has been in complete, I have used so many drugs that was prescribed to me by several doctors, but it didn't cure my Herpes VIRUS neither did it reduce the pain, i was checking for solution on the internet then miraculously came across Dr Oso the powerful herbalist that cure Herpes INFECTION, then i contacted his email, i explained everything to him and he prepared a herbal cure and send it to me that was how i got cured from Herpes disease totally after receiving his herbal medicine, so my friends why waiting and be suffering with this HPV virus when there is someone like Dr Oso that can cure any disease #HIV/ #CANCER/ #HEPATITIS C ,#HERPES VIRUS, #ALS . you can contact him via: [email protected]

  3. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Too academic.

  4. 5 out of 5

    C. Çevik

    Sellars iyi ve üretken bir Stoa felsefesi uzmanı, bu çalışması gibi her çalışması faydalı. Academia.edu'da makalelerini de paylaşıyor, oradan da takip etmenizi öneririm. Sellars iyi ve üretken bir Stoa felsefesi uzmanı, bu çalışması gibi her çalışması faydalı. Academia.edu'da makalelerini de paylaşıyor, oradan da takip etmenizi öneririm.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Heather Pagano

    This was a great introduction to Stoicism, and a really valuable thesis on how philosophy can be so much more than theory, it can help us live better lives. I came to this book after reading another introduction to Stoicism, and was hoping this book would delve a bit deeper into the details of the exercises and aphorisms. I wanted even more on the nitty gritty of how to practice Stoicism.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ross Cohen

    Sellers makes a convincing case to reestablish the importance of studying philosophy as a way of living alongside studying philosophy as a way of thinking.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Sanchez

    A very complete analysis of Stoicism seen as an error, where the subject of said art is one's own life. But it is a bit dry and academic for my taste. A very complete analysis of Stoicism seen as an error, where the subject of said art is one's own life. But it is a bit dry and academic for my taste.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brian Pringle

  9. 5 out of 5

    andrew atkinson

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  11. 5 out of 5

    David

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chris Fisher

  13. 5 out of 5

    John

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rick S.

  15. 5 out of 5

    efenibot

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jane Clancy

  17. 4 out of 5

    Παναγιωτης Μαστορακης

  18. 5 out of 5

    Erich Luna

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sammy

  20. 4 out of 5

    Spyros Papadokostakis

  21. 4 out of 5

    Breanna Fox

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

  24. 4 out of 5

    Robbe

  25. 4 out of 5

    Adsnhmg

  26. 4 out of 5

    Les Johnson

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ali

  28. 4 out of 5

    Maricar

  29. 4 out of 5

    Juraj

  30. 5 out of 5

    James

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