Happiness in Action

A Philosopher’s Guide to the Good Life

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Pub Date 20 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 20 Sep 2022

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Description

A young philosopher and Guinness World Record holder in pull-ups argues that the key to happiness is not goal-driven striving but forging a life that integrates self-possession, friendship, and engagement with nature.

What is the meaning of the good life? In this strikingly original book, Adam Adatto Sandel draws on ancient and modern thinkers and on two seemingly disparate pursuits of his own, philosophy and fitness, to offer a surprising answer to this age-old human question.

Sandel argues that finding fulfillment is not about attaining happiness, conceived as a state of mind, or even about accomplishing one’s greatest goals. Instead, true happiness comes from immersing oneself in activity that is intrinsically rewarding. The source of meaning, he suggests, derives from the integrity or “wholeness” of self that we forge throughout the journey of life.

At the heart of Sandel’s account of life as a journey are three virtues that get displaced and distorted by our goal-oriented striving: self-possession, friendship, and engagement with nature. Sandel offers illuminating and counterintuitive accounts of these virtues, revealing how they are essential to a happiness that lasts.

To illustrate the struggle of living up to these virtues, Sandel looks to literature, film, and television, and also to his own commitments and adventures. A focal point of his personal narrative is a passion that, at first glance, is as narrow a goal-oriented pursuit as one can imagine: training to set the Guinness World Record for Most Pull-Ups in One Minute. Drawing on his own experiences, Sandel makes philosophy accessible for readers who, in their own infinitely various ways, struggle with the tension between goal-oriented striving and the embrace of life as a journey.

Adam Adatto Sandel is a philosopher, Guinness World Record holder for Most Pull-Ups in One Minute, and an award-winning teacher. Author of the critically acclaimed book The Place of Prejudice: A Case for Reasoning within the World, Sandel has taught at Harvard University and is currently an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn.

A young philosopher and Guinness World Record holder in pull-ups argues that the key to happiness is not goal-driven striving but forging a life that integrates self-possession, friendship, and...


Advance Praise

“Adam Sandel’s book will help bring philosophy back to the place it once held—as a central pursuit whose value is open to all.”—Sean D. Kelly, Teresa G. and Ferdinand F. Martignetti Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University

“Adam Sandel brings learning, wisdom, and clarity to age-old questions about how to live a life of happiness and meaning. At once immersed in the insights from classical Western thinkers and alert to his own experiences and challenges, Sandel offers perspective and consolation relevant to our challenging times, and perhaps, to any age.”—Martha Minow, 300th Anniversary University Professor, Harvard University, and author of When Should Law Forgive?

“In this spirited and humane book, Adam Sandel suggests the narrative coherence of a life may lie, not simply in a string of accomplishments, but in the finer-grained flow of moments that unfold as one is absorbed in some worthwhile activity. He also rehabilitates ‘nature’ as a resource of ethical reflection. Contrary to the caricature set up by anti-foundationalist thinkers, Sandel shows that in ancient thought, nature is not invoked as a source of universal truths, but rather as a dialectical partner. On these and many other points, Happiness in Action points the way to a deeper life.”—Matthew Crawford, author of Why We Drive: Toward a Philosophy of the Open Road

“Adam Sandel’s book will help bring philosophy back to the place it once held—as a central pursuit whose value is open to all.”—Sean D. Kelly, Teresa G. and Ferdinand F. Martignetti Professor of...


Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9780674268647
PRICE $29.95 (USD)

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