We’re excited to announce that our first selection for the Acton Book Club will be The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt.
He uses both classical philosophy (everyone from Buddha to Plato) and modern research to examine happiness and explore the obstacles that we, as human beings, place in our own paths.
We chose this book not only because it’s fascinating, but also becuase it’s unique: it answers the “so what?” question so many books on happiness leave lingering. It has a little something for everyone: history, philosophy, psychology, and science. If your favorite class was Life of Meaning, you’ll probably like it because it explores, well, the meaning of life. If you’re more the analytical, Cash and Valuation type, you’ll appreciate the research and evidence Haidt uses to present his case. We hope you’ll find Haidt’s insights thought provoking, if not applicable.
Want more information?
Here’s a good summary from Nature:
The ancients, it seems, were good psychologists and understood, in an observational and intuitive way, how the mind works.
Jonathan Haidt takes this insight seriously in his new book The Happiness Hypothesis….he takes the conclusions of classical philosophers and thinkers on ten enduringly important themes and considers their conclusions alongside the findings of modern psychology. The ten subject areas are: the idea that the mind is made up of several often-conflicting drives or mechanisms; the idea that how we think about the world is more important than how the world actually is; the importance of reciprocity in social life; the biases that blind us to our own shortcomings but not to shortcomings in others; the paradoxical nature of pursuing happiness; the importance of love; the strengthening power of adversity; the importance of virtue, in its broadest sense; the power of spirituality; and finally, the importance of coherence in life. Haidt draws principally from Greek and Roman philosophy, from Indian and Chinese traditions, as well as a peppering of other sources. He has also read widely across various schools of modern psychology, including social psychology, the evolution of behaviour, and the emotions, an area to which he has made distinguished contributions….This is by some margin the most intellectually substantial book to arise from the ‘positive psychology’ movement, which is often characterized by having too much ‘positive’ and not enough ‘psychology’. Haidt is thoughtful and judicious, and is always concerned to relate his points back to the evidence.”
And here’s what others have to say:
The most gleefully smart, cynical and scientistic” happiness book on the market. (Times Online)
With singular gusto, Haidt measures ten “Great Ideas” against past/present research in psychology and science. LJ’s verdict: Dr. Phil et al. don’t have diddly on the old-school sages. No man is an island, indeed, and no modern reader should be without this carefully considered demystification of life.” (Library Journal)
So order your copy now so that you can take part in the discussion, which we’ll open up in a few weeks. We’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
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