THE GOOD LIFE METHOD

REASONING THROUGH THE BIG QUESTIONS OF HAPPINESS, FAITH, AND MEANING

Thoughtful contemplations about thorny moral questions.

How to live virtuously and well.

In 2016, Notre Dame philosophy professors Sullivan and Blaschko began teaching a course called God and the Good Life, which became hugely popular among undergraduates. Their aim, they write, was to help students to live more intentionally and to take agency and responsibility for their choices. Drawing on the content and pedagogy of that course, the authors offer a warm, empathetic guide for examining the quality and meaning of one’s own life. They encourage readers to hone their ability to pose and answer strong questions—“the kinds of questions that uncover our deeper reasons for believing and doing what we do”; to pay loving attention to others’ stories; and to think about “how the episodes of your life fit together.” The first half of the book considers everyday philosophical challenges, “questions about money, work, family life, and political friction.” The second half focuses on existential matters such as faith, suffering, and death. Each chapter concludes with exercises designed to prompt self-awareness about the connection of one’s choices to one’s ethical and moral goals. Throughout, the authors contrast effective altruism with virtue ethics, two philosophical perspectives that lead to quite different ways of defining a morally good life. While effective altruists, such as philosopher Peter Singer, believe one should earn as much as possible in order to give away as much as possible, virtue ethicists believe that “ ‘care for the soul’ is the most important work any of us can do.” That work requires training and practice. The authors draw on thinkers from Plato to William James, St. Thomas Aquinas to Kierkegaard, Aristotle to Iris Murdoch as they present a wide range of responses to much-debated moral questions. The authors themselves share candid reflections on the evolution of their own thinking, including “philosophical apologies”—that is, defenses—of many hard decisions they’ve made.

Thoughtful contemplations about thorny moral questions.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-984880-30-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

MAGIC WORDS

WHAT TO SAY TO GET YOUR WAY

Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Want to get ahead in business? Consult a dictionary.

By Wharton School professor Berger’s account, much of the art of persuasion lies in the art of choosing the right word. Want to jump ahead of others waiting in line to use a photocopy machine, even if they’re grizzled New Yorkers? Throw a because into the equation (“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”), and you’re likely to get your way. Want someone to do your copying for you? Then change your verbs to nouns: not “Can you help me?” but “Can you be a helper?” As Berger notes, there’s a subtle psychological shift at play when a person becomes not a mere instrument in helping but instead acquires an identity as a helper. It’s the little things, one supposes, and the author offers some interesting strategies that eager readers will want to try out. Instead of alienating a listener with the omniscient should, as in “You should do this,” try could instead: “Well, you could…” induces all concerned “to recognize that there might be other possibilities.” Berger’s counsel that one should use abstractions contradicts his admonition to use concrete language, and it doesn’t help matters to say that each is appropriate to a particular situation, while grammarians will wince at his suggestion that a nerve-calming exercise to “try talking to yourself in the third person (‘You can do it!’)” in fact invokes the second person. Still, there are plenty of useful insights, particularly for students of advertising and public speaking. It’s intriguing to note that appeals to God are less effective in securing a loan than a simple affirmative such as “I pay all bills…on time”), and it’s helpful to keep in mind that “the right words used at the right time can have immense power.”

Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063204935

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper Business

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 25


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller

GREENLIGHTS

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 25


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Close Quickview