Below is the abstract of a paper I co-wrote with my friend Skye Cleary about the value of philosophies of life. We present two examples in some depth: Stoicism and Existentialism. The full paper can be downloaded here. More on philosophies of life in the book that inspired this essay: How to Live a Good Life: A Guide to Choosing Your Personal Philosophy of Life, ed. by Massimo Pigliucci, Skye Cleary & Daniel Kaufman (Vintage, 2020).
What is a philosophy of life? And why should people examine both their own and those of others? We present an operational definition of philosophies of life as constituted of three components: (i) a metaphysics, i.e., a view of how the world works; (ii) an ethics, i.e., a view of how we should behave in the world; and (iii) a set of practices. We also argue that examining and comparing philosophies of life is conducive to more tolerance of others and to a more fulfilling life path for oneself. We then present two examples of life philosophies—Greco-Roman Stoicism and contemporary existential- ism—as case studies.