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Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche

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Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche Cover

ISBN13: 9780374150853
ISBN10: 0374150850
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A New York Times Notable Book for 2011

We all want to know how to live. But before the good life was reduced to ten easy steps or a prescription from the doctor, philosophers offered arresting answers to the most fundamental questions about who we are and what makes for a life worth living.

In Examined Lives, James Miller returns to this vibrant tradition with short, lively biographies of twelve famous philosophers. Socrates spent his life examining himself and the assumptions of others. His most famous student, Plato, risked his reputation to tutor a tyrant. Diogenes carried a bright lamp in broad daylight and announced he was “looking for a man.” Aristotles alliance with Alexander the Great presaged Senecas complex role in the court of the Roman Emperor Nero. Augustine discovered God within himself. Montaigne and Descartes struggled to explore their deepest convictions in eras of murderous religious warfare. Rousseau aspired to a life of perfect virtue. Kant elaborated a new ideal of autonomy. Emerson successfully preached a gospel of self-reliance for the new American nation. And Nietzsche tried “to compose into one and bring together what is fragment and riddle and dreadful chance in man,” before he lapsed into catatonic madness.

With a flair for paradox and rich anecdote, Examined Lives is a book that confirms the continuing relevance of philosophy today—and explores the most urgent questions about what it means to live a good life.

Review:

"Miller (The Passion of Michel Foucault) profiles 12 thinkers whose philosophies may have been consistent but whose engagements with the social and political mores of their time were far more fraught. From Plato's failure to mold the tyrant Dionysius into a philosopher king through Seneca's murky relationship with the despotic Nero to Kant's capitulation to King Frederick William II, the author casts a welcome light on the flawed, all-too-human aspects of famed moralists. Likewise we are made privy to a Descartes struggling to avoid religious controversy and a contradictory, sometimes paranoid Rousseau determined to publicly justify the abandonment of his own children to orphanages. Miller remains neutral, preferring to juxtapose the behavior of his subjects side by side with their words, even if, as in the cases of Socrates and Diogenes, so much still remains unknown about their lives. Nonetheless, this compelling book elegantly lays bare the distance between the abstract formulation of right action and its achievement in the real world, indicating that the lives of the great philosophers can be exemplary but not always in the ways we might have hoped. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

About the Author

James Miller is a professor of politics and the chair of liberal studies at the New School for Social Research. He is the author of The Passion of Michel Foucault and Flowers in the Dustbin: The Rise of Rock & Roll, 1947-1977, among other books. He lives in Manhattan.

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

MFriedland, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by MFriedland)
A good synthesis of how the lives of philosohers shaped their thoughts - and how, in turn, they tried to live based on their philosophy
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780374150853
Subtitle:
From Socrates to Nietzsche
Author:
Miller, James
Author:
Miller, James S.
Author:
iller
Author:
Miller, Jim
Author:
James M.
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Subject:
Philosophers
Subject:
General
Subject:
History & Surveys - Ancient & Classical
Subject:
General Philosophy
Subject:
History
Subject:
Surveys/Ancient
Subject:
Classical
Subject:
Philosophy-Surveys
Subject:
History & Surveys/Ancient & Cl
Subject:
assical
Subject:
History, Criticism, Surveys
Edition Description:
Rough Front/Deckel Edge
Publication Date:
20110104
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
12 Black-and-White Illustrations, Notes,
Pages:
432
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » Philosophers
Humanities » Philosophy » General
Humanities » Philosophy » Surveys

Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.95 In Stock
Product details 432 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374150853 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Miller (The Passion of Michel Foucault) profiles 12 thinkers whose philosophies may have been consistent but whose engagements with the social and political mores of their time were far more fraught. From Plato's failure to mold the tyrant Dionysius into a philosopher king through Seneca's murky relationship with the despotic Nero to Kant's capitulation to King Frederick William II, the author casts a welcome light on the flawed, all-too-human aspects of famed moralists. Likewise we are made privy to a Descartes struggling to avoid religious controversy and a contradictory, sometimes paranoid Rousseau determined to publicly justify the abandonment of his own children to orphanages. Miller remains neutral, preferring to juxtapose the behavior of his subjects side by side with their words, even if, as in the cases of Socrates and Diogenes, so much still remains unknown about their lives. Nonetheless, this compelling book elegantly lays bare the distance between the abstract formulation of right action and its achievement in the real world, indicating that the lives of the great philosophers can be exemplary but not always in the ways we might have hoped. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
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