Updated: Oct 14, 2020
We are excited to announce a new series of posts purposed toward the application of ancient philosophy in our modern lives.
As civilization advances, we find ourselves facing problems unique to our benefit of time and geography. With our Maslowian needs met, we turn our efforts toward the upper echelon of self-actualization.
The struggles for meaning and purpose in one’s life are practically a modern invention, as leisure was previously reserved for the social elite. Philosophers of the past were largely beneficiaries of a genetic lottery and social inheritance, while the working class had neither the time nor education to entertain the soul’s most pressing questions, as those which leaked to the surface were largely pacified by religious authority.
Man has never had more time for leisure or access to information. Yet strangely, the inventions which promised to free our waking hours have filled them, and we rarely find the time or energy to spend hours in conversation with great thinkers of the past. Hence, we will start our very own book club, and just as in high school, will soon find the value in abridged notes. Each series will consist of a great thinker of the past, in which we share the major themes of a particular work, with direct quotes from the sage with further commentary on how to apply this wisdom to one’s own life.
We will find that many of our current concerns and sources of frustration were met my minds far greater than our own, and should we have the wisdom to do so, we can learn from their insights to improve the quality of our lives.
Our first work to be discussed will be Arthur Schopenhauer’s (pronounced show-pen-how-er) The Wisdom of Life, an essay from his final work, Parerga und Paralipomena (1851). This leader in German Metaphysics had much to share on navigating one’s own happiness, health, the opinions of others, and self-actualization. This piece opens with:
“In these pages I shall speak of The Wisdom of Life in the common meaning of the term, as the art, namely, of ordering our lives so as to obtain the greatest amount of pleasure and success…”
I fail to think of a more worthwhile endeavor. It is high time we “stand on the shoulders of giants” and use these adopted heights to better understand our own experience.
In our first post in the series, Schopenhauer will teach us about the greatest source of happiness, ourselves.
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