For centuries, philosophers, theologians, moralists, and ordinary people have asked: How should we live? What makes for a good life?
In The Best Things in Life, distinguished philosopher Thomas Hurka takes a fresh look at these perennial questions as they arise for us now in the 21st century. Should we value family over career? How do we balance self-interest and serving others? What activities bring us the most joy? While religion, literature, popular psychology, and everyday wisdom all grapple with these questions, philosophy more than anything else uses the tools of reason to make important distinctions, cut away irrelevancies, and distill these issues down to their essentials. Hurka argues that if we are to live a good life, one thing we need to know is which activities and experiences will most likely lead us to happiness and which will keep us from it, while also reminding us that happiness isn't the only thing that makes life good. Hurka explores many topics: four types of good feeling (and the limits of good feeling); how we can improve our baseline level of happiness (making more money, it turns out, isn't the answer); which kinds of knowledge are most worth having; the importance of achieving worthwhile goals; the value of love and friendship; and much more. Unlike many philosophers, he stresses that there isn't just one good in life but many: pleasure, as Epicurus argued, is indeed one, but knowledge, as Socrates contended, is another, as is achievement. And while the great philosophers can help us understand what matters most in life, Hurka shows that we must ultimately decide for ourselves.
This delightfully accessible book offers timely guidance on answering the most important question any of us will ever ask: How do we live a good life?
"The book is filled with common sense and practical wisdom. As a practical 'guide to what really matters' for general readers and philosophers alike, it is a worthy modern representative of a tradition of ethical writing that goes back to Aristotle's own guide to what really matters, written for his son Nicoachus. From my point of view, that is high praise indeed."--Robert Kane, Ethics
"A stimulating read and a great way to get you focused on the right things at the beginning of the year."--Fareed Zakaria, CNN
"Thomas Hurka's The Best Things in Life is that rare thing: a philosophical work written with such simplicity and verve that it will engage beginning students, but with enough subtlety and sophistication that it will also reward careful study by specialists. An important contribution to ethics."--Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
"Most of us know the main sorts of things that can make a life worth living: happiness and pleasure, friendship and love, accomplishment, knowledge, and virtue. But few of us could probably say very much about just what these things really are, and what, exactly, makes them so valuable. That's where Tom Hurka comes in. The Best Things in Life provides an original and fascinating philosophical guide to some of life's most important questions. For the
most part, of course, it's not exactly a practical guide-it won't tell you how to find love, or how to be virtuous or successful. But it will give you a far better sense of what you should be looking for, and
why."--Shelly Kagan, Yale University
"this book makes you work, be self-reflective, and actually do philosophy. It helps you hone these important life skills. Thomas Hurka presents dense philosophical themes with clear diction and offers interesting examples that are not bogged down with technical jargon or require specialized knowledge. Overall, this text is a welcomed addition to the scholarship and practice of teaching contemplation-in-action, and I recommend it with enthusiasm."
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Feeling Good
Chapter 3: Knowing What's What
Chapter 4: Achieving Goals
Chapter 5: Being Good
Chapter 6: Loving and Being Loved
Chapter 7: Putting it Together
Series: Philosophy in Action
Number Of Pages: 208
Published: 25th February 2011
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 17.8 x 14.0
Weight (kg): 0.26