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Life Is Hard
Life Is Hard: How Philosophy Can Help Us Find Our Way | Kieran Setiya
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Life Is Hard is a humane consolation for challenging times. Reading it is like speaking with a thoughtful friend who never tells you to cheer up, but, by offering gentle companionship and a change of perspective, makes you feel better anyway. The New York Times Book Review There is no cure for the human condition: life is hard. But Kieran Setiya believes philosophy can help. He offers us a map for navigating rough terrain, from personal trauma to the injustice and absurdity of the world. In this profound and personal book, Setiya shows how the tools of philosophy can help us find our way. Drawing on ancient and modern philosophy as well as fiction, history, memoir, film, comedy, social science, and stories from Setiyas own experience, Life Is Hard is a book for this momenta work of solace and compassion. Warm, accessible, and good-humored, this book is about making the best of a bad lot. It offers guidance for coping with pain and making new friends, for grieving the lost and failing with grace, for confronting injustice and searching for meaning in life. Countering pop psychologists and online influencers who admonish us to find our bliss and live our best lives, Setiya acknowledges that the best is often out of reach. Instead, he asks how we can weather lifes adversities, finding hope and living well when life is hard.
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There's much that I found useful in this book. The more I read bits of classical philosophy, the more it seems that the ethical questions raised in the past have bearing on the present. I deeply appreciated how Setiya thinks through the meaning of a good life vs. "the meaning of life", or concepts like atelic & telic activities in terms of living a meaningful life. The text is sprinkled liberally with quotes that inspire you to go to the source.

batsy The main issue is that when I expected Setiya to delve deeper into a philosophical idea or theory, he stops just short. Part of the reason is because he's writing this for a general audience, & I think there's a sense throughout the book that he needs to keep it simple to prevent it from becoming too dense. Because of that, a bit of a self-help vibe creeps into the prose at times & I have a knee-jerk aversion to that. Still, highly recommended. 3w
TrishB I have a knee jerk aversion to self help too! Great review ❤️ 3w
batsy @TrishB Thank you 😘 2w
See All 11 Comments
vivastory Ditto the self-help reaction. I have recently been reading through the tagged book and have had a somewhat similar experience 2w
batsy @vivastory The title is interesting! I read one Alain de Botton book many years ago & his prose does have a tendency to veer into the soothing, self-help tone doesn't it? 😆 2w
charl08 Tempting. I've been reading a lot about grief which has a similar issue - so might wait a bit to pick this up. 2w
batsy @charl08 I hope this will be of some comfort. It's short, and the chapters are also short and concise, so it's easy to juggle this in between other books. 2w
kspenmoll This sounds interesting! 2w
batsy @kspenmoll It is! Mileage may vary with the style but the content of it is likely to be of use to many :) 2w
Centique I definitely need a beginners course in philosophy, so thanks for putting this on my radar! I dabbled a bit in University, but I think it was hit and miss. Seems a good way to question my own philosophies, which have been very much in flux in a post pandemic world 😬 2w
batsy @Centique Yes, if academic philosophy wasn't your cup of tea this might be a more useful introduction! If you do give it a try, I hope you find something worthwhile. He argues back with classical philosophers, too, which is great (and exactly how it should be! Lol) 2w
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