From Aristotle to Brain Science
By Sissela Bok
(Yale University Press, Hardcover, 9780300139297, 224pp.)
Publication Date: August 1, 2010
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In this smart and timely book, the distinguished moral philosopher Sissela Bok ponders the nature of happiness and its place in philosophical thinking and writing throughout the ages. With nuance and elegance, Bok explores notions of happiness--from Greek philosophers to Desmond Tutu, Charles Darwin, Iris Murdoch, and the Dalai Lama--as well as the latest theories advanced by psychologists, economists, geneticists, and neuroscientists. Eschewing abstract theorizing, Bok weaves in a wealth of firsthand observations about happiness from ordinary people as well as renowned figures. This may well be the most complete picture of happiness yet.
This book is also a clarion call to think clearly and sensitively about happiness. Bringing together very different disciplines provides Bok with a unique opportunity to consider the role of happiness in wider questions of how we should lead our lives and treat one another--concerns that don't often figure in today's happiness equation. How should we pursue, weigh, value, or limit our own happiness, or that of others, now and in the future? Compelling and perceptive, "Exploring Happiness" shines a welcome new light on the heart of the human condition.
Sissela Bok is Senior Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, and a moral philosopher of international renown. A former member of the Pulitzer Prize Board, Bok is a Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and sits on the editorial boards of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Common Knowledge, and Ethical Theory and Moral Practice. Her many books include the seminal Lying, Secrets, A Strategy for Peace, Mayhem, and Common Values. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Most people strive to be happy, but take a look at the overflowing self-help shelves in bookstores -- happiness can be pretty elusive. In her new book, Exploring Happiness, Sissela Bok draws from philosophy, psychology, neuroscience and everyday wisdom to explain what we really know about how to be happy. More at NPR.org
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