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Lou Marinoff. The Big Questions: How Philosophy Can Change Your Life.

New York: Bloomsbury, 2003.

Lou Marinoff, author of the international bestseller Plato, Not Prozac! (which he spoke about at a recent Alfred Korzybski Memorial Lecture), continues to advocate the application of philosophical wisdom to life's everyday problems.

In The Big Questions: How Philosophy Can Change Your Life, Marinoff advises us to question "received wisdom," and to not accept victimhood as the byproduct of modern life. To help us do this he examines differences between "disease" (something is wrong with you--e.g., the flu) and "dis-ease" (you are wronging yourself--e.g., overwhelming anxiety), and differences between "offense" (an attitude or behavior that is offered to someone, who must then decide to accept the insult or not), and "harm" (something done actively to an unwilling victim who does not have a chance to accept or reject it). Rather than presenting his arguments in an abstract way, Marinoff uses specific case studies from his philosophical counseling practice to show how wisdom from the great thinkers can help us to define our own philosophy.

I especially enjoyed these chapters in Marinoff's fascinating book: "Are You Guided by Reason or Passion?," "Must You Suffer?," "Who's in Charge Here: We, or the Machines?," and "How Can You Handle Change?"

I also found most illuminating an Appendix entitled "Hit Parade of Ideas: Ninety-Nine Useful Thinkers in Philosophical Counseling" (Alfred Korzybski is one of these ninety-nine thinkers). For readers who may want to find out more about philosophical counseling, Marinoff also offers a list of organizations involved in philosophical practice, and a directory of counselors certified by the American Philosophical Practitioners Association.

John Dewey once said, "Philosophy recovers itself when it ceases to be a device for dealing with the problems of philosophers and becomes a method, cultivated by philosophers, for dealing with the problems of men." I think Dewey would have liked this book.
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Author:Levinson, Martin H.
Publication:ETC.: A Review of General Semantics
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 2003
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