Every Time I Find the Meaning of Life, They Change It

Every Time I Find the Meaning of Life, They Change It

Wisdom of the Great Philosophers on How to Live

Book - 2017
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A humorous and philosophical trip through life, from the New York Times-bestselling coauthor of Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . .

Daniel Klein's fans have fallen in love with the warm, humorous, and thoughtful way he shows how philosophy resonates in everyday life. Readers of his popular books Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . . and Travels with Epicurus come for enlightenment and stay for the entertainment.

As a young college student studying philosophy, Klein filled a notebook with short quotes from the world's greatest thinkers, hoping to find some guidance on how to live the best life he could. Now, from the vantage point of his eighth decade, Klein revisits the wisdom he relished in his youth with this collection of philosophical gems, adding new ones that strike a chord with him at the end of his life. From Epicurus to Emerson and Camus to the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr--whose words provided the title of this book--each pithy extract is annotated with Klein's inimitable charm and insights. In these pages, our favorite jokester-philosopher tackles life's biggest questions, leaving us chuckling and enlightened.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, 2017
Edition: New edition
ISBN: 9780143129592
0143129597
Characteristics: 218 pages ; 18 cm

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JCLChrisK Oct 06, 2016

I wonder if I have a problem. I definitely have a tendency to seek spiritual inspiration from super-rational thinkers rather than from rabbis and priests and theologians.

JCLChrisK Oct 06, 2016

I still take great pleasure in playing around with philosophical questions, the ones that [Bertrand] Russell is the first to admit have no unequivocal answers. . . . I guess this quality makes me a Cerebral Hedonist, although some would say it makes me a mental masochist.

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JCLChrisK Oct 06, 2016

The book follows the format of Klein's old notebook: he shares a "pithy," then reacts to it. The reflections--most a few pages--introduce context for each thinker and idea before spinning into the meaning and value Klein takes from each. Some are abstract musings, while others are pragmatic, situated, and specific. All are at least a bit autobiographical, and all are accessible introductions to the different veins of philosophical thought they represent.

As Klein notes in his epilogue, the theme that seems to unify the ideas is finding meaning in life by living fully in the moment. Some explicitly express that theme while others provide a more roundabout route to it, and they come at it from many different perspectives. The idea is one that appears to have resonated with Klein throughout his life and presented itself to him in many forms--or, at least, he has found the theme in his interpretations of various thinkers.

Overall, the book is an easy and engaging interaction with a variety of philosophies' pursuit of "the meaning of life." Quite enjoyable.

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