A Life Examined: Philosophy for Everyday Life
Posted on October 31, 2018
Studying philosophy can be a rewarding venture. Philosophy can help eliminate apathy and serve as the foundation for a happy life. In the job market, philosophy majors have access to almost any job and enjoy high salaries in those jobs.
But you don’t have to go to a prestigious school or get a PhD to learn all about the sophists. Even practicing some armchair philosophy can help you become a better thinker, sort through information and live with a sense of meaning.
Books and resources to help you get started applying critical thought to your everyday life
by Marcus Aurelius
Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius is most remembered for this brief collection. His thoughts aren’t exactly organized and this book is probably best read in short spurts, but the advice in “Meditations” is priceless when attempting to live “according to nature.” You’re almost guaranteed to find something applicable to your life: from advice on confronting your own mortality to how to maneuver office politics. Also available in eBook and eAudio.
Become What You Are
by Alan Watts
Alan Watts is largely credited with popularizing Eastern philosophy in the West during the 1950s and 60s, and “Become What You Are” is essentially a distillation of ideas found in Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, and more. While detractors will probably say this stuff reeks of some sort of hippie religion, a lot of what Watts has to say is a comforting remedy when faced with life’s unknowns.
The Complete Essays
by Michel de Montaigne
Imagine writing a book about yourself. And I don’t mean a tell-all memoir or historic autobiography. I mean a book about EVERYTHING ABOUT YOURSELF: lingering odors you smell, the movements of your bowel, your failed relationships, minuscule details about what kind of fruit you like, and every other tidbit of your life. This is what Montaigne did, as he practically invented the personal essay in the mid-1500s. And while this might all sound mundane (and it is, in a beautiful and engrossing way), what you get is a very readable, sometimes humorous take on how to be human. Also available in eBook.
The Essential Feminist Reader
edited by Estelle B. Freedman
Like most of human history, men tend to dominate almost every subject, and unfortunately philosophy isn’t much different. Thankfully, there have been women in the field who have been able to crack the glass ceiling. Hypatia was a notable philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer in ancient Greece. And Lady Anne Conway published a metaphysical treatise (albeit after she died and anonymously) in the 1600s.
“The Essential Feminist Reader” offers something beyond the texts of typical American and English feminist thinkers. It provides a great introduction to global feminism from an array of perspectives and can serve as a great jumping off point to explore the Library’s Steinem Sisters Collection. Most importantly, it helps add significant female voices to the din of the boys’ club.
Very Short Introductions
If you want to learn about something and prefer getting more thorough and authoritative information than can be found in a Google search or Wikipedia article, I highly recommend this series of books. While many are available in print, you also have access to an entire online database with your library card. There are plenty of subjects other than philosophy, though the gems of the collection are books on a variety of philosophical topics. And let’s be honest: by the time you read a couple philosophy books you’ll be calling yourself Xenophanes and making serious inquiries into theories of causation.
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