Today, simple living is a rallying cry for anti-consumerists, environmentalists and anyone concerned with humanity's effect on the planet. But what is so revolutionary about a simple life? Why are we so fascinated with simplicity today? Why do we still sometimes resist simplifying our lives? A Philosophy of Simple Living brings together an array of people, practices and movements, from Henry David Thoreau to Steve Jobs, and from Cynics and Quakers to voluntary simplicity and degrowth. Written in elegant, spare prose, this book will inspire all who wish to simplify their lives and convince many that a good life is a simple life.
"In this insightful debut, Brillaud. . . analyzes the 'simple life' by examining historical figures who 'saw simplicity as a way of life.' Among the exemplars of simplicity Brillaud surveys are antiestablishment spiritual pioneers such as the desert monks of early Christianity and the Shakers of the late eighteenth century, as well as philosophical giants including fourth-century BCE philosopher Diogenes the Cynic and American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau. Each, Brillaud writes, sought to lessen the noise of a busy life in order to 'remain attuned to the quiet activity of living which transpired in and around them.' Ironically, in offering a diverse array of paragons and dissecting their choices--for example, when he opens the book with a deep dive into various stages of Greek philosophy, language, and history--Brillaud's study gets pretty complicated. While the academic nuance helps illustrate different approaches to the simple life, one is left wondering what the simple life really is; Brillaud admits it's 'a concept with far-reaching resonance' and that it cannot be reduced to 'static principles, lofty ambitions, or technological expedients.' Those looking for advice on creating a 'life governed by simple rules' will enjoy Brillaud's inviting portraits." --Phillip John Usher, New York University "Publishers Weekly"
"A powerfully insightful work that deserves wide attention at a time of unprecedented confoundment and burden in the human condition." --Brendan Gleeson, author of The Urban Condition
"Thoughtful and beautifully written. . . . A must-read in our era of noise and distraction." --Phillip John Usher, New York University
About the Author
Jerome Brillaud is Lecturer of French at the University of Manchester. He is the author of Sombres Lumieres (2011) and essays on early modern philosophy and literature.