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A Literary Education and Other Essays

By Joseph Epstein

Who is the greatest living essayist writing in English? Unquestionably Joseph Epstein. Epstein is penetrating. He is witty. He has a magic touch with words, that hard to define but immediately recognizable quality called style. Above all, he is impossible to put down. How easy it is today to forget the simple delight of reading for no intended purpose. Each of the thirty-eight pieces in this book is a pure pleasure to read.

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The "Poor Me" Manual

Perfecting Self-Pity—My Own Story

By Hunter Lewis

This is a rollicking fictional memoir that takes us through the ups and downs of the mysterious author's life. And what a life it is, full to the brim with every imaginable kind of neurotic behavior. You will often laugh out loud. But you will also learn a great deal about the emotions and about which emotional strategies work and which don't.

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Aristotle

384–322 BCE, Greek

Philosopher, pupil of Plato, and tutor to Alexander the Great. His work ranged widely over logic, metaphysics, physics, biology, zoology, natural history, history, politics, rhetoric, moral philosophy, psychology, and poetry.

Although his most important works perished, enough survived, principally through Arab sources, that he became the greatest secular authority of the late Medieval and Renaissance world, so much so that for a time his commanding presence stifled further investigation and free thought. This was especially ironic because his surviving work expressed the value of free study and thought above all, both in the form of logic and especially of empiricism, of careful observation of the world around us, of a primary reliance on the evidence of our own senses and our own mind rather than on an external authority, no matter how masterful and prestigious that authority may be.

Aristotle's moral philosophy suggested that happiness should be our goal (Eudamonism), that virtue was a reliable means to this end, and that virtue usually represented a "golden mean" between opposite extremes. This approach to a happy life did not seem to require religion, especially the quasi-mystical religion of Plato, but it did require philosophical contemplation which in turn depended on financial independence or subsidy and the leisure that such independence or subsidy made possible. Supreme happiness was therefore reserved for the few.

Aristotle also emphasized the importance of friendship for happiness, all the more so since women and children were subordinate in classical Greece and thus less suitable for intellectual intimacy. (Montaigne felt the same way in Renaissance France, that psychic, as opposed to physical, intimacy should be reserved for close male friends.)

Other Aristotelian positions are equally rooted in the circumstances of his time, including his positive valuation of political autocracy and slavery. Although he probably regarded both as natural and inescapable, any opposition to autocracy during his lifetime would have been extremely dangerous and futile.

Axios Institute is dedicated to the study of human values, both the valuations that we make and the ways that we go about making them.

In addition to the study of values, our field includes what is commonly referred to as ethics, moral philosophy, and philosophy of life.

We are an independent research institute, and are not affiliated with, nor do we propound or express the views of, any particular religion, philosophy, or organized system of thought. On the contrary, our aim is to study a great variety of approaches, and to do so as objectively as possible.

The mission of Axios Press, the publishing division of Axios Institute, is to publish books that provide readers with a great variety of approaches to the study of human choices and values.