The project of this impressive work is the exploration in the work of various ancient philosophers and philosophical schools of a conception of philosophy that, Cooper argues, was characteristic of the ancient world but is largely absent from the modern. Whereas the contemporary conception of philosophy is that of an academic subject comparable to mathematics or history, pursued primarily for its own intrinsic interest as a contribution to a general understanding of the nature of things and only secondarily, if at all, for its practical application to how people run their lives, the major philosophers and schools discussed in this book all took it for granted that the role of philosophy was in one way or another to show people how to live. All believed that the purpose of human life was to achieve the individual's good and identified that good as eudaimonia, happiness or well-being, of which there...

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