The Art of Living (series).

Title: The Art of Living (series).
Editor/s: Vernon, Mark.
Material type: Book.
Publisher/date: Acumen.
Format: Paperback. (160-70 pages, average.)
Area and topic: Philosophy and daily life/culture/experience.
Intended audience/ reading level: General/medium to advanced.
Purchasing and information:
Unique and/or salient feature/s: ‘The Art of Living’ series focuses on themes of existential importance and (in some cases) mundane ‘everyday’ issues that we tend to take for granted.
Synopsis and/or additional information: The following information is sourced from the above links (see ‘Purchasing and information’) and the text.

  • ‘From Plato to Bertrand Russell, philosophers have engaged wide audiences on matters of life and death. ‘The Art of Living’ series aims to open up philosophy’s riches to a wider public once again. Taking its lead from the concerns of the ancient Greek philosophers, the series asks the question “How should we live?” Authors draw on their own personal reflections to write philosophy that seeks to enrich, stimulate and challenge the reader’s thoughts about their own life. In a world where people are searching for new insights and sources of meaning, ‘The Art of Living’ series showcases the value of philosophy and reveals it as a great untapped resource for our age’
  • Series titles are: Hope, Forgiveness, Commitment, Science, Distraction, Faith, Money, Me, Death, Middle Age, Work, hope, Deception, Sport, Illness, Fame, Wellbeing, hunger, Pets.
  • Example titles: Raymond Tallis: On Hunger: ‘In this book, Raymond Tallis takes us through the different levels of our hunger. Out of our primary appetites arise a myriad of pleasures and tastes that are elaborated in second-level hedonistic hungers creating new values. The evolution of appetite into desire opens the way to social hungers such as the hunger for acknowledgement. Awareness of death awakens a further level of hunger for something that lies beyond the pell-mell of successive experiences leading towards extinction. The art of living is the art of managing our hungers.’
  • Table of contents: 1. The first hunger, 2. Hedonistic hunger: foodism and beyond, 3. The hunger for others, 4. The fourth hunger, 5. Ending hunger.
Strengths: The titles in this series reflect the intended aim, i.e. to explore those issues that are of central importance in our current age and climate with regards to ‘the art of living’. Less dramatically, each title explores certain issues and ideas that have the strongest influence on current (predominently Western) cultural  values, beliefs —  and especially as they are felt in our personal lives. By reflecting on such issues from a philosophical perspective, teachers may introduce the discipline through subject matter that is not merely of intellectual interest. For many students this may make the subject of philosophy more ‘alive’ for them. Looking at it from the other way around, the series may help high-school aged students reflect, through philosophy, on those issues that are (or will be) of central importance to their lives.
Limitations: The books are not intended for teaching purposes and though written for the general reader, some of the books in the series are quite difficult to read. Furthermore, although most of the titles deal with style and content that are philosophical in a general sense, in a stricter sense they would be better placed under the umbrella of humanities and social sciences.

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