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On desire : why we want what we want | by readerwalker
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On desire : why we want what we want

"Don't believe everything you think" (my favorite bumper sticker) might be one way to express some of the advice the author gives in his conclusion.


Halfway through this now and I'm still finding it well written and absorbing. I read the last third quickly in the bookstore to see if it ended up in a place worth going. I've been taking much more time to read my copy here at home, to enjoy it more and understand it better.


William B. Irvine is a Professor of Philosophy at Wright State University, in Dayton, Ohio.


View the book flap in the large or original size version of this photo to read the summary blurb. Of course you can also check Amazon and other sources, or stop by a local bookstore.


This book reminds me of another more narrowly focused yet also excellent book with similar advice that was published 11 years ago: Timothy Miller's How to want what you have (New York : Henry Holt and Co., c1995).


21 May 2006 Sunday. Finished reading it this evening. Irvine concludes by identifying common principles from a variety of different practices for controlling desires and learning to be satisfied.


There are so many good parts I could quote that it was hard to choose this brief excerpt from the conclusion chapter. Page 287:


"... the effort required to master desire is probably less, all things considered, than the effort we will expend trying to fulfill whatever desires pop into our head. It is true that a person attempting to master desire will have to spend time reflecting on his desires and how best to overcome them and might have to spend some of his free time reading philosophers or meditating. But the alternative approach, working to satisfy a never-ending stream of desires, will be far more arduous. The person taking this approach might be forced to spend his adult life doing a job he hates so he can afford the objects of his desires. His days might be frenetic, while the person who works instead to master his desires will enjoy relative tranquility."

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Taken on May 13, 2006