Life Is Hard: How Philosophy Can Help Us Find Our Way
by Kieran Setiya 2022
About the Author
Kieran Setiya is a professor of philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of Midlife: A Philosophical Guide. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement (London), the London Review of Books, The New York Times, Aeon, and The Yale Review.
About the Book
“Smart, richly sourced, and lucidly reasoned, Life Is Hard is a work of resplendent wisdom and humanity—one that has changed the way I think about the periodic upsurges of failure, grief, and loss in my own life.” —Jim Holt, author of Why Does the World Exist?
“Life may be hard, but Kieran Setiya shows us better ways to think about it and how, despite everything, that can give us hope.” —Katherine May, author of Wintering
“An eloquent, moving, witty and above all useful demonstration of philosophy’s power to help us weather the storms of being human—not with rarefied theories about the best way to live, but by making the best of life as it really is.” —Oliver Burkeman, author of Four Thousand Weeks
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORKER AND THE ECONOMIST
“Life Is Hard is a humane consolation for challenging times. Reading it is like speaking with a thoughtful friend who never tells you to cheer up, but, by offering gentle companionship and a change of perspective, makes you feel better anyway.” —The New York Times Book Review
There is no cure for the human condition: life is hard. But Kieran Setiya believes philosophy can help. He offers us a map for navigating rough terrain, from personal trauma to the injustice and absurdity of the world.
In this profound and personal book, Setiya shows how the tools of philosophy can help us find our way. Drawing on ancient and modern philosophy as well as fiction, history, memoir, film, comedy, social science, and stories from Setiya’s own experience, Life Is Hard is a book for this moment—a work of solace and compassion.
Warm, accessible, and good-humored, this book is about making the best of a bad lot. It offers guidance for coping with pain and making new friends, for grieving the lost and failing with grace, for confronting injustice and searching for meaning in life. Countering pop psychologists and online influencers who admonish us to “find our bliss” and “live our best lives,” Setiya acknowledges that the best is often out of reach. Instead, he asks how we can weather life’s adversities, finding hope and living well when life is hard.
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