How To Live A Good Life Book Summary By ed. Massimo Pigliucci, Skye C. Cleary and Daniel A. Kaufman

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How to Live a Good Life is an inspiring and informative book that takes a look at 15 philosophical approaches to help readers reflect on their own lives.

This collection of essays comes from 15 leading scholars, each offering a unique perspective on living well.

The editors, Massimo Pigliucci, Skye Cleary, and Daniel Kaufman have crafted this book in such a way that it covers a wide range of philosophies, both ancient and modern.

The reader will find everything from Stoicism to Buddhism, as well as more contemporary interpretations and thought.

This book offers wisdom for everyone interested in exploring the ways we can find joy and meaning in life.

A must-have for anyone looking for guidance on the journey of self-realisation.

Book Name: How to Live a Good Life (A Guide to Choosing Your Personal Philosophy)

Author(s): ed. Massimo Pigliucci, Skye C. Cleary and Daniel A. Kaufman

Rating: 4.3/5

Reading Time: 27 Minutes

Categories: Personal Development

Author Bio

The authors of the book, "How to Live a Good Life," are Massimo Pigliucci, Skye C.

Cleary and Daniel A.


Each one brings expertise in their own particular field to the deliberations of this book.

Pigliucci is a specialist in Stoicism, originally trained as a scientist before pursuing another PhD in Philosophy.

He now writes on topics related to Stoicism.

Cleary is an expert when it comes to existentialism and Kaufman is a professor of Philosophy who wrote the chapter on Aristotelianism within this book.

These three experts bring vibrant life to the conversations found within this helpful volume that enables us to live our lives with purpose, meaning, and wisdom

15 Philosophies That Can Help You Understand And Appreciate Life

Do you find yourself wondering what is the best way to live a good life? If so, you are not alone.

Humans have been reflecting on this question since ancient times and many different philosophies have emerged in response.

Now with How to Live a Good Life by, you can explore 15 different perspectives on how to tackle one of life’s biggest questions.

From Confucianism to Buddhism, Stoicism to Existentialism, readers will learn about and compare the various ideas that have been put forth by some of the world’s wisest people—spanning sacred and secular traditions from East to West.

You’ll discover how Stoicism can help stay calm when life throws curveballs; why Buddhists don’t agree with Confucianists; and gain insight into Jean-Paul Sartre’s concept of being “condemned to be free.”

Begin your journey today and gain insight into 15 different perspectives on how to live a good life with How to Live a Good Life by.

Buddhism Values Ethics Above All: The Buddha’S Teachings On Impermanence And Compassion

The ancient Eastern philosophy of Buddhism focuses primary and foremost on ethics.

This was made evident in 2000 when, upon meeting the Dalai Lama high in the Himalayas, Buddhism expert Owen Flanagan asked a question of him – should one kill an evil person such as Hitler if they had the opportunity? The spiritual leaders consulted by the Dalai Lama reached the answer that it is ethical to do so, but with one caveat: don’t be angry.

This has become a main message of Buddhism: acting ethically can still involve looking at deeds that may seem bad but, as long as you’re acting without anger and with compassion, then your attempts are focused on reducing suffering in the world overall.

Buddhism stands in contrast to the Brahmins beliefs that preceded Hinduism which claimed all living things were stuck in a cycle of birth and death with only privileged members able to escape from this cycle.

The Buddha instead argued that nothing is permanent and we should strive for nirvana or salvation through leading good, selfless lives with principles rooted in ethics.

Though for Buddhists reaching some serenity is a result, it is not its main purpose; rather it’s about what we can do for the world overall through our actions driven from values based on ethics.

Living A Good Life Isn’T Just About Denying The Self – Eastern Philosophies Teach Us To Embrace Interconnectedness And Accept Reality

Confucianism and Daoism are both ancient eastern philosophies that focus on living a good life, but they take different approaches.

Confucianism is all about our relationships with other people, while Daoism emphasizes the importance of acting in harmony with nature.

Confucius believed that we cannot exist independently of others and that, in order to live well, we must maintain our relationships.

Bryan Van Norden explains that this fundamental concept of Confucianism encompasses not only people, but all living things: a child in danger, an animal in distress or even a tree – through awareness of our interconnectedness, we feel compassion for them all and recognize how much we depend on one another as part of a larger whole.

Daoism shares this sense of interconnectedness with Confucianism and suggests a balance between life and nature.

It’s less about what people should do – instead it’s an acceptance of natural forces without emotional attachment to them.

For example, when the ancient sage Dayu faced a flood he didn’t fight against it – he welcomed it by rerouting the water to serve his purposes for irrigation.

Similarly, when faced with challenges today we can use the “Realtor’s Mentality” taught by Daoism which is not to fixate on any single challenge but rather accept them indifferently as part of life’s journey.

Achieving A Eudaemonic Life With Aristotelianism: Balancing Internal Strength And External Factors

Aristotelianism is a philosophy that encourages an individual to strive for personal success and fulfillment, while being aware of certain external factors.

It teaches us that, just like with a talented tennis player who won’t be able to fully demonstrate their skills in a weak competition field, sometimes achieving our goals may be harder than expected due to external factors.

We all want to be successful and reach our maximum potential, but at times – due to circumstances such as family dynamics or natural disasters – it can be difficult or even impossible.

This can result in feeling frustrated and hopeless.

But Aristotelianism helps us accept these conditions as part of reality, and reminds us not to get caught up in the false belief that we’re in complete control of our fate.

In order to live a good life according to Aristotelianism, you should aim for balance by enhancing your strengths and maximizing your own capabilities across multiple areas of life.

Although success isn’t guaranteed, you still should try your best – that’s the key message behind this philosophy.

Stoicism Vs Epicureanism: Two Approaches To Finding Tranquility And Pleasure In Life

Stoicism and Epicureanism – two contrasting philosophies that originated from the classical world.

While Stoicism teaches us to live life according to four virtues: practical wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance and strive for ataraxia – a state of tranquility – Epicureanism emphasizes feeling and pleasure.

Stoicism encourages indifference towards things out of our control.

Whether it’s wealth or negative emotions, one should seek inner growth instead of focusing on external factors.

If someone insults you, Stoicism suggests looking inward if there is any truth in it and if not then ignore it as ultimately the person doesn’t affect your virtue as a person.

Despite its focus on indifference, Stoicism does allow for positive emotions such as joy or love.

Epicureanism places much emphasis on pleasure rather than stoicity.

The idea behind this philosophy is that we naturally strive for pleasure and should use hedonic calculus to determine whether something will be beneficial in the long run or not – with short term indulgences being okay in moderation.

Therefore, instead of viewing life seriously we should go through life with a smile on our face.

How Hinduism And Progressive Islam Help Us Live A Better Life Today

Hinduism and Progressive Islam both bring centuries-old wisdom into modern times.

Hinduism’s core teachings revolve around karma, or the concept that good and bad deeds have consequences in this life—and the next.

To break out of the wheel of birth and death, Hindus strive to have their lives be guided by good karma.

At the same time, they accept that life may throw challenges at them based on the bad karma they may have acquired in past lives.

Progressive Islam brings an updated interpretation to Islamic teachings, resulting from reinterpretations of religious scripture, as well as a greater emphasis on morality and reason over strict adherence to literal texts.

This forward-thinking approach helps us acknowledge unique situations within today’s world – for instance, it calls for equal rights for women, which was a radical idea when it was first espoused in Christian scriptures thousands of years ago.

By making these ancient ideas relevant in our contemporary lives, Hinduism and Progressive Islam are bringing timeless wisdom into the 21st century.

Finding Meaning And Purpose Through Judaism And Christianity

Judaism and Christianity both offer scriptures that can be interpreted in multiple different ways, providing an opportunity for reflection.

In Judaism, this is acknowledged even by the Talmud — a key sacred text which recounts a dispute between two Houses regarding the correct interpretation of the law.

Even then, it is stressed that “Both are the words of the living God”, and as such multiple interpretations may be valid.

In Christianity too, faith is not seen as a fixed set of rules but rather provides perspectives from which to draw meaning from life’s experiences.


Lewis put it best when he said “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” This allows for varied responses to much debated questions such as “Why is there suffering?” — with some believing suffering lets us grow as individuals whilst others view suffering more philosophically as a reminder of our mortality or something that serves to define good from evil.

At its heart, this teaching encourages reflection on how best to cope with difficulties in life — even within scripture itself, Christ’s followers provide an example of dealing with his death through hope, providing guidance to find one’s own path towards recovery and understanding through life’s hardships.

Ethical Culture And Secular Humanism Do Not Require Belief In God To Lead Moral Lives

Both Ethical Culture and secular humanism are philosophies that don’t involve believing in a singular God.

Ethical Culture was founded by Felix Adler in 1876, who originally studied to become a rabbi, but only ever gave one sermon.

In it, he presented an interpretation of Judaism as a secular religion – a view which prevented him from becoming a rabbi and instead encouraged him to develop this newfound philosophy.

Ethical Culture emphasizes ethics and the value of community and shares traditional values through the inclusion of clergy, although Anne Klaeysen acknowledges some problems with Adler’s teachings such as his misogyny.

On the other hand, secular humanism is not a religion at all.

It is a non-dogmatic philosophy that focuses on independent thinking rather than religious belief systems.

As guided by reason, secular humanism encourages people to think critically about their world and how they can improve it within their own existence – all without any singular being or deity playing any part in the situation.

Both Ethical Culture and secular humanism emphasize morality without dogma; leaving room for those who want to identify with spirituality or even multiple philosophies simultaneously.

Existentialism And Pragmatism Remind Us To Take Responsibility For Our Lives And Create Meaning From Our Freedom

Existentialism and pragmatism alike address the ways in which we experience freedom.

Jean-Paul Sartre famously stated that “we are ‘condemned to be free,’ ” noting that our consciousness and capacity for making choices gives us this existential liberty.

Similarly, American pragmatists such as Ralph Waldo Emerson championed self-reliance, noting that freedom exists within certain limits.

In recognizing these boundaries, we can make meaningful progress in life despite its fragile nature.

William James and Charles Peirce spoke of embracing ideals such as beauty, truth, and goodness while navigating the unstable terrain of life — using our freedom to make things better even if perfection is out of reach.

Existentialism shares much with this idea; acknowledging that a single role or label can’t define a person since they are ever-changing and their subjectivity will fluctuate.

The ultimate message here comes down to understanding the power that freedom holds — no matter one’s beliefs or conceptions, life will still present choices which must be faced with authenticity.

Our future health — mental or physical — depends upon taking steps to improve ourselves today as well as finding solace in relationships with others.

We May All Be Seeking Meaning And Happiness In Different Ways, But We Share Common Threads In Our Philosophical Journeys

The concept of effective altruism is an incredibly powerful tool in the philosophical and ethical question of how to live a good life.

Based off of 18th century utilitarianism and Jeremy Bentham’s philosophy of trying to create “the greatest happiness for the greatest number”, effective altruism provides followers with an approach to maximize their positive impact on the world.

This could be through making generous donations to charitable causes or by taking on jobs that are especially beneficial to society.

Effective altruism is a relatively new way of thinking, so it’s exciting to consider how this movement can help us answer philosophical and ethical questions about living today.

Kelsey Piper explains in her work how this practice encourages people to put effort into understanding moral value and actually doing something about it instead of simply talking about ideas but not acting upon them.

Regardless of what final answers we come up with when considering how exactly we should live our life, one thing is certain: We will always be asking these questions as they are fascinating and timeless in their complexity as they have been answered in many different ways throughout history.

As philosophies such as Daoism, progressive Islam, Stoicism, existentialism etc.

all display myriad traces of similarities while standing apart at the same time; It’s up to each individual person – or group – to draw out the meanings behind their thoughts and beliefs and use them as effective guides towards defining such values today.

Wrap Up

The How to Live a Good Life Book Summary is all about finding your own personal philosophy for life.

Exploring different schools of thought is key if you want to create a life that is meaningful and fulfilling.

This can be done through reading widely, having conversations, meditating, and perhaps even traveling.

You should also take some time to reflect on yourself and the core beliefs and values you have so you are better able to make decisions in line with them.

Ultimately, it’s up to you what path you choose but there’s a lot of sage advice from these varied philosophies that you can draw from.

So take some time to explore and discover your own personal philosophy for life!

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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