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eBook Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche ePub

eBook Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche ePub

by James Miller

  • ISBN: 0374150850
  • Category: Humanities
  • Subcategory: Other
  • Author: James Miller
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First edition (January 4, 2011)
  • Pages: 432
  • ePub book: 1306 kb
  • Fb2 book: 1646 kb
  • Other: lit azw docx lrf
  • Rating: 4.4
  • Votes: 606

Description

James Miller's Examined Lives is a wise and courageous book that reminds us of the sheer delight of the love of wisdom and the unsettling effect of the philosophic life

James Miller's Examined Lives is a wise and courageous book that reminds us of the sheer delight of the love of wisdom and the unsettling effect of the philosophic life. Our age is in many ways a battle between the hard-earned serenity of Montaigne and the inescapable torment of Nietzsche. Miller gives us armor in this battle! ―Cornel West, Princeton University. James Miller's Examined Lives is a tour de force of biography, history, and philosophy.

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James Miller’s "Examined Lives" is the type of book that should be carefully read by humanities undergraduates, graduates, and their professoriate. Students and professors in the humanities tend to value authenticity in their academic commitments, pursuits and scholarship. Got it. We value your privacy.

In Examined Lives, James Miller returns to this vibrant tradition with short and spirited biographies of twelve famous thinkers .

In Examined Lives, James Miller returns to this vibrant tradition with short and spirited biographies of twelve famous thinkers, examining the interplay of their life and thought. From Plato, who risked his reputation to tutor a tyrant, to Kant, who wrestled with hypochondria while advocating arch-rationality in his writings, each thinker took their own unique approach to ‘the good life’, but often struggled to put their theories into practice. With a flair for rich anecdote, Miller provides a captivating insight into some of history’s greatest thinkers – and confirms the continuing relevance.

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

In Examined Lives, James Miller returns to this vibrant tradition with short, lively biographies of twelve famous philosophers. 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.

He is Professor of Politics and Liberal Studies at The New School. His most recent book, Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

As James Miller shows in his fascinating Examined Lives, choosing Diogenes Laertius over more rigorous treatises was provocative because it challenged an idea already . From Socrates to Nietzsche.

As James Miller shows in his fascinating Examined Lives, choosing Diogenes Laertius over more rigorous treatises was provocative because it challenged an idea already predominant in Nietzsche’s time: that a philosophy should be objectively valid, without the need to refer to particular quirks or life experiences on the part of its originator. Diogenes Laertius represents an older tradition, which sees philosophy not as a set of precepts but as something one learns by following a wise man - sometimes literally following him wherever he goes, listening, and observing how he handles situations.

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Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche. In 11 biographical sketches of thinkers who tried to tread in Socrates's footsteps, plus one on Socrates himself, James Miller explores what it means to follow the philosophical calling

Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche. Aristotle and the quest for understanding. In 11 biographical sketches of thinkers who tried to tread in Socrates's footsteps, plus one on Socrates himself, James Miller explores what it means to follow the philosophical calling. Much trouble and uncertainty seems to be the answer, and some of the most famous philosophers turn out not to be all that admirable or convincing, he finds. So can philosophy inspire a way of life?

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.” Aristotle’s alliance with Alexander the Great presaged Seneca’s 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.

Comments

Pooker Pooker
Through the lives of twelve eccentric men, the reader is taken on a philosophical journey to live the life of Socrates; to live a life of examination, to know oneself, to discover truth. The story begins with Socrates (approximately 469 B.C.) and concludes with Nietzsche (eighteenth century). Each character was shaped by the period in which they lived and the events that coalesced around them, and thus, in their own journey toward "enlightenment" made a unique contribution to the study of philosophy.

The active participation in a philosophical life is something that Miller seeks to emphasize with those selected for summary in the text. This form of active study of philosophy is perfectly contradictory to the modern study of the subject. As explained in the introduction, the modern study of philosophy "that the truth of a proposition should be evaluated independently of anything we may know about the person holding that proposition."

Although the book is meant to be a short survey of the lives of these men, I felt that the depth and breadth of the material was too great for too few pages. Miller was certainly able to illustrate his purpose and the lives of each individual. However, I felt it difficult, at times, to follow some of the events (summarizing the life and contributions of a philosopher in about 25 pages is difficult). I also had a desire for more information; perhaps additional reading is necessary. Great book for a novice in philosophy.
Tebei Tebei
This book made me think more and harder than any other recent book I've read (not counting old works I re-read that make me think equally as hard). And it wasn't so much that this book made me think hard about Seneca or Montaigne or Nietzsche (which, of course, it did); it made me think harder about myself. And I think that might have been the great goal.

When I was a younger and cockier professor, I used to exhort my students with Socrates' (purported) dictum, "The unexamined life is not worth living." I dimly understood but consciously suppressed the notions that (a) in the way that I and most others used it, the dictum is ripped hideously out of context, and (b) in some important ways, the examined life didn't work out all that well for Socrates. Reflecting on this further, I realized that it didn't work out well for other characters in literary works I was teaching, like Oedipus and Hamlet.

So this book, by examining the ways a dozen different philosophers engaged in the "examined life," helped me to think more deeply and I hope more clearly about that approach to living. Each chapter reminds one that there is a serious cost to living an examined life, and one who undertakes it must be willing to pay it.

James Miller's work also made me think hard about the relationship between philosophy and biography. At some point in my undergraduate and graduate education, I internalized what New Critics called "The Intentional Fallacy," the notion that a work should not be judged based on its author's life or purported intentions, but rather the "objective" validity of his argument (as if that could be determined). That is, we were to determine the truth of the philosopher's claims and system without regard to his favorite breakfast cereal or brand of Scotch -- we were to consider his claims and reasoning without considering the larger context. While I wrestled with that notion, I bought into it. Biographical criticism was in low esteem at that time, and postmodernists like Barthes piled on with "the death of the author" and "decentered" readings. Miller's work is a useful corrective to all of that. In fact, it made me sort of wake up, rub my eyes, and wonder, "what were we thinking back then?" As indeed, one of the great pleasures of this book was to see how great thinkers' philosophies and their lives as lived seem inextricably connected. I often teach Intro to Philosophy (among other college courses), and this book is making me wonder how I'll approach that matter the next time through.

Another great pleasure of this book is Miller's writing. While I got a little tired of his formulaic opening of each chapter with a vignette pointing to some grave crisis in the subject's life, overall he does a masterful job of weaving together both complicated life stories and complicated thought, and presenting both in a manner understandable to educated adults. You don't have to be a philosophy major to enjoy this book (but I will commend it to our philosophy majors).

Miller points out -- and I think should have made more of -- the fact that prior to Augustine, the lives of philosophers are essentially hagiographic, sometimes in the worst ways (and arguably, Augustine was engaged in self-hagiography, and events in his life after De Confessione are largely from hagiography). So his first few chapters (Socrates through Seneca) are necessarily, I think, less on point than the rest of the book. But I would not have parted with them.

The inclusion of Emerson was a very pleasant surprise. One would wish for chapters on Pascal and Kierkegaard (perhaps in a new edition). As always, it was unpleasant to see the flaws and foibles of one's intellectual heroes. But those aren't bad to learn, either.

Most important, this book has prompted me to once again think about what it means to live an examined life, why it might be valuable, and why it will certainly be dangerous. I look forward to re-reading and further reflection.
felt boot felt boot
I like books like this that attempt to bring perspective in a short volume on a subject that you could make a career out of studying. As other reviewers have noted, there are errors and omissions but don't considered them fatal flaws. For a more in depth perspective, I recommend Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy.

Miller concisely brings this fine selection of thinkers to life by linking the progression of thinking from the earlier philosophers to the latter ones. The first few chapters up to Aristotle do not cover much that most readers are already familiar with. These chapters are more like extended Wikipedia entries without much detail or perspective. However, this is the foundation for demonstrating how the ideas of the latter thinkers evolved from the initial seeds of thought provided by the earlier ones. The biographical details (which improve in latter chapters) demonstrate that despite their great ideas, the thinkers themselves were all too human. Such a perspective is absent in their highly polished published works.

The perceived value of introspection has decreased as the volume and availability of knowledge has increased. Thinkers like Descartes, Aristotle, and Plato were both mathematicians and philosophers. When the scientists of today like Hawking dismiss philosophy as being dead, it's useful to examine the contributions that great thinkers have made in the past and the thinking techniques that they employed to develop their ideas. There is much to be learned beyond what science can currently tell us about how we can improve our own thinking. Reading Examined Lives is a good place to start.
Nahn Nahn
Tight text yet interesting read.
Anayanis Anayanis
As a new entrant to the field of philosophy, I was very interested in the learning about the lives of these significant philosophers. I found the writing well done and the treatment of each individual to be balanced and candid. My significant take away was that in philosophy, the true test of a philosopher is NOT what he writes, but whether his life is consistent with his teachings. I highly recommend the book.