Summary of The Best Things in Life

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The Best Things in Life book summary
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Rating

7

Qualities

  • Innovative
  • Eye Opening

Recommendation

Professor of philosophy Thomas Hurka ponders what makes a good life. He writes simply, explaining philosophical concepts with understandable examples: Chocolate and sex, for instance, are good. Hurka layers his concepts, one upon another, weaving a modern and interesting – if not necessarily compelling to the reader who is not philosophically minded – report on what comprises a good life. More practical readers might prefer tips or parameters, but this isn’t a self-help guide. It’s more of a discussion, with points to consider and directions for reaching your own conclusions. Hurka’s ability to cite Kant, Socrates and other philosophical giants without getting bogged down helps readers consider theories they might find otherwise inaccessible. getAbstract suggests this book to managers, executives, entrepreneurs and armchair philosophers seeking gentle guidance toward a more rewarding life.

About the Author

Thomas Hurka teaches ethics and philosophy at the University of Toronto, where he holds a chair in Philosophical Studies. His other books include Perfectionism; Virtue, Vice, and Value; and Principles: Short Essays on Ethics.

 

Summary

Building a Good Life

Life’s most important decisions require tough choices. Some decisions combine practical and philosophical concerns, such as deciding whether to work after college or volunteer abroad, or whether to stay married for the kids’ sake or to get divorced for your happiness. To choose the right course, you must weigh all factors and determine what would make your life good or bad. Philosophers disagree on what encompasses a good life. Thomas Hobbes believed the best life comes from getting the most of what you want. Epicurus and others from his school of thinking prioritized pleasure; Socrates and his comrades chose knowledge, while diverse philosophers rank “moral virtue,” creativity or religious dedication as most important. All these varied priorities concern what is intrinsically good. Two related ideas prevail: Fundamental good exists, as do different paths to a good life. Still, some lives will have more worth than others, based on what has ultimate value.

Measures of Pleasure

Pleasure – also known as contentment, enjoyment and happiness – comes with a variety of commingling sensations. Pleasure does not exist in a pure form, despite the...


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