HAPPINESS by Frédéric Lenoir


A Philosopher's Guide
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A philosopher’s exploration of all the angles of happiness.

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Those are the unalienable rights of all Americans, but we don’t have a monopoly on the elusive hunt for happiness. Thinkers have long found the subject to be a difficult one to consider, French philosopher Lenoir (The Oracle of the Moon, 2014, etc.) notes in the prologue, and while many modern books proclaim to bequeath the recipe for happiness, it’s rarely that simple. Cynics may raise their eyebrows at the author’s slim entry into the canon, but as a guide to various approaches taken by philosophical and religious figures, it serves ably. Lenoir considers Voltaire, Socrates, Schopenhauer and others alongside their (often contradictory) views on happiness, which leads into further questioning and reflection: Do all people wish to be happy? Is there truth for anybody except the wealthy that money cannot buy happiness? As social creatures, is it possible to attain happiness without other people in our lives or despite those other people? What can be done, Lenoir asserts, to increase our capacity for happiness is to sharpen our attention toward the happiness we experience in day-to-day life. One can also keep various sociological studies in mind, with research indicating that our aptitude for happiness is 50 percent genetics, 40 percent from our personal efforts toward increasing our happiness, and a mere 10 percent from our surroundings and other external factors. Lenoir also explores disciplines beyond philosophy and religion, taking into account the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy, the essays of Michel de Montaigne and the fiction of Michel Houellebecq. Throughout the book, Lenoir writes economically, devoting only enough words to particular thoughts and approaches as are necessary to stir questions in the minds of readers.

A brief though well-considered guide to a wide range of the many schools of thought regarding contentment, joy and happiness.

Pub Date: April 7th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-61219-439-4
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Melville House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2015


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