On Our Shelves Now
From renowned classicist Edith Hall, ARISTOTLE'S WAY is an examination of one of history's greatest philosophers, showing us how to lead happy, fulfilled, and meaningful lives
Two thousand years ago, Aristotle wrote the most important book on happiness. The first philosopher to inquire into subjective happiness, he understood its essence better and more clearly than anyone since. Most importantly, Aristotle understood happiness as available to the vast majority of us, but only, crucially, if we decide to apply ourselves to its creation. According to Aristotle, happiness is not about well-being but instead is a lasting state of contentment, which should be the ultimate goal of human life. We become happy through finding a purpose, realizing our potential, and modifying our behavior to become the best version of ourselves. With these objectives in mind, Aristotle developed a humane program for becoming a happy person. Here, Professor Edith Hall shows how his timeless teachings are exactly what we need today to stride purposefully towards a life well lived. As Hall writes, "If you believe that the goal of human life is to maximize happiness, then you are a budding Aristotelian." In expert yet vibrant modern language, Hall lays out the crux of Aristotle's thinking, mixing affecting autobiographical anecdotes with a deep wealth of classical learning. For Hall, whose own life has been greatly improved by her understanding of Aristotle, this is an intensely personal subject. She distills his ancient wisdom into ten practical and universal lessons to help us confront life's difficult and crucial moments, summarizing a lifetime of the most rarefied and brilliant scholarship.
About the Author
Edith Hall first encountered Aristotle when she was twenty, and he changed her life forever. Now one of Britain's foremost classicists, and a Professor at King's College London, she is the first woman to have won the Erasmus Medal of the European Academy. In 2017 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Athens University, just a few streets away from Aristotle's own Lyceum. She is the author of several books, including Introducing the Ancient Greeks. She lives with her family in Cambridgeshire.
“Hall’s new book clears a rare middle way for her reader to pursue happiness . . . Aristotle’s Way carefully charts the arc of a virtuous life that springs from youthful talent, grows by way of responsible decisions and self-reflection, finds expression in mature relationships, and comes to rest in joyful retirement and a quietly reverent death. Easier said than done, but Aristotle, Hall explains, is there to help.” — New York Times Book Review
“Hall explains some of the philosopher’s most complex ideas in an approachable way, covering his notes on everything from the power of community to understanding your goals and why you should always consult a third party when making a decision . . . When it comes to happiness, perhaps it’s actually time to say out with the new and in with the old.” — TIME Magazine
“In clear, patient language, Hall deftly weaves threads pulled from this daunting range of material into lessons that pertain directly to dilemmas of modern life . . . We are told that Hall “first encountered Aristotle when she was twenty, and he changed her life forever”; one of the book’s strengths is her tone of unmistakable sincerity.” — American Scholar
“[A] lucid account… nontechnical but deeply grounded… Can happiness come from virtue? This lively book makes a good argument in the affirmative.” — Kirkus Review
"Delivers an expansive, practical assessment of Aristotle... She handles weighty, difficult topics such as depression and everyday tasks such as preparing for an important meeting or job interview with the same measured, clear prose... her book is an engaging, thrilling approach to Aristotle’s pragmatic thought. It is a useful introduction to the ideas of one of the most important philosophers in world history." — Publishers Weekly
“With vivid, page-turning prose, Aristotle’s Way invites you into the wise, practical, intentional, self-determined world of Aristotle’s mind. Nearly everything that psychological scientists have discovered about happiness was anticipated by Aristotle 23 centuries ago. You will be a slightly different person after finishing this beautiful book than you were before you started.” —Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness
“A wonderfully lively and personal guide to Aristotle's philosophy of well-being. Read it and flourish!” —Sarah Bakewell, author of How to Live: A Life of Montaigne
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way: Aristotle did it his way, Edith Hall – magnificently – does it hers, in this combined critical appreciation and celebration of the philosopher-scientist whom Karl Marx hailed as a ‘giant thinker’. Readers keen to live a Good Life – and prepare for a Good Death – should dive head first into this fount of ancient but still modern wisdom.” —Paul Cartledge, A.G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture Emeritus at the University of Cambridge