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
Aristotle was the first philosopher to inquire into subjective happiness, and he understood its essence better and more clearly than anyone since. According to Aristotle, happiness is not about well-being, but instead 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, which has stood the test of time, comprising much of what today we associate with the good life: meaning, creativity, and positivity. Most importantly, Aristotle understood happiness as available to the vast majority us, but only, crucially, if we decide to apply ourselves to its creation--and he led by example. 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.
Hall (Introducing the Ancient Greeks), a professor of classics specializing in ancient Greek literature at King's College, delivers an expansive, practical assessment of Aristotle intended to help readers navigate life. "Wherever you are in life," Hall writes, "Aristotle's ideas can make you happier." Concerns such as living up to one's potential, making important decisions, and assessing another person's intentions as factors in moral responsibility are Hall's main concerns. Aristotle was the first philosopher, in Hall's estimation, to question the traditional notion of happiness as being synonymous with good health, loving family, and freedom from poverty or destitution. Instead, he wondered whether happiness is an internal state that cannot be measured empirically. With reference to modern neuroscience and physiology, Hall applies Aristotle's core ideas to an array of modern situations. 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. General readers might struggle with Hall's level of philosophical discourse; however, for academics or the philosophically inclined, 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.