179. Edith Hall (classicist) – from Aristotle to Oprah and back again: how to live your best life

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We’ve been talking a lot lately on this show about happiness. What it is, where we can get more of it, why it does not yet seem to be available on the Internet. Author Ruth Whippman presented some compelling evidence that the way most Americans are pursuing happiness is making us unhappier. Buddhist master teacher Joseph Goldstein talked about a way of training yourself to be more generous, and the happiness this has brought to his life.
In her new book ARISTOTLE’S WAY, classicist Edith Hall reminds us that Aristotle’s “virtue ethics” was a sophisticated, subtle approach to the pursuit of lifelong happiness a couple millennia before Oprah thought of inviting us to live our best life. Offering no listicles of the top ten happiness hacks, Aristotle tried to live and taught the virtues of an ethically guided, purpose driven life with plenty of room for good friends, sensual pleasures, and long walks on the beaches of Ancient Greece, Macedonia, and what is now Turkey.
Edith Hall—my guest today—enjoys putting the pleasure as well as the rigor into all aspects of Ancient Greek and Roman History, society, and thought. She’s a professor of Classics at King’s College, London, the author of more than 20 books, and a world leader in the study of ancient theatre and culture.
Surprise conversation starter clips in this episode:
Nick Offerman on what happiness is
Stephen Greenblatt on the Adam and Eve story
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