Originally published on Goodreads

Philosophy as a Way of Life

Philosophy as a Way of Life by Pierre Hadot is a treatment of ancient philosophy and its use in society. Hadot explains how philosophy was considered and used in the ancient world, that is during the Greek city states and Roman Empire and how it has subsequently been changed.

Hadot gets around in Philosophy as a Way of Life. It is focusing a lot on the ancient philosophy and particularly on Stoicism and Socrates which to Hadot uses to illustrate how philosophy back then was not just a theoretical exercises but a lifelong attempt to gain wisdom. Hadot shows how ancient philosophies was very dialogue driven and how in engaging in a dialogue with a philosopher, one becomes a philosopher themselves. The main themes of the book are spiritual exercises, the practical side of philosophy and some common themes of ancient philosophy, such as the decoupling of body and soul, training for death and cultivation of the self.

While there’s plenty of interesting snippets and ideas in the book, it’s also very academic and can be hard to read. It’s also not so much a philosophy book in the genre of Meditations or Letters from a Stoic and instead tries to make sense of ancient philosophies. It also therefore brings a historical viewpoint to ancient philosophies.

If you are interested in the background of ancient philosophies then it’s a great book, if you expect a book along the lines of Meditations or Letters from a Stoic, you’ll leave slightly disappointed.

3 out of 5 stars.