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TRAVELS WITH EPICURUS

A JOURNEY TO A GREEK ISLAND IN SEARCH OF A FULFILLED LIFE

Charming and accessible, this philosophical survey simply and accessibly makes academic philosophy relevant to ordinary...

A late-in-life reflection and modern-day philosophical exploration of what it means to age authentically.

Septuagenarian Klein (co-author: Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates, 2009) is on a personal quest to redeem the grizzled and gray-haired among us. Returning to the Greek island of Hydra, which he visited in his youth, he sought to watch and learn from a culture that, he writes, best embodies the grace of old age. Over leisurely glasses of retsina at the local tavern, he observed the “lived time” of his aged, Greek friends and lamented the contemporary Western desire to extend the prime of life beyond its course. What do we lose, he asks, when we deny our hard-earned senior citizenship and opt instead for implants, Viagra and a second career? With the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus as his guide, Klein navigates a veritable sea of great thinkers and their treatises on aging. From Aristotle to Frank Sinatra, each philosopher offers a different take on what it means to live a meaningful life in one’s later years. For Epicureans, it’s a life devoted to simple, enduring pleasures and free of pain, particularly the pain we incur on ourselves by pursuing certain pleasures. As it turns out, there are no specific rules to living life well or to making peace with old age, but Klein suggests that perhaps the act of asking can be “some kind of end in itself.” Some readers, especially younger readers, will reply in the affirmative when Klein wonders aloud if he is simply “a befuddled old geezer barking at the moon.” Others will appreciate the slow, lighthearted amble of his discourse and the wise cast of characters that inhabit his journey.

Charming and accessible, this philosophical survey simply and accessibly makes academic philosophy relevant to ordinary human emotion.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-14-312193-0

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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