The Literature of Crisis
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Our lives are not simply given to us, Socrates used to maintain, but also something we make. As we examine the circumstances of our existence recognizing certain facts as immutable and others as subject to our control, we all face the challenge of fashioning out of them a way of living that is both meaningful and justifiable. “The Art of Living” explores different ways to think about the nature of that challenge— how to accommodate conflicting demands and values, how to make our choices “artfully,” how to use works of imaginative literature to inspire us. Should we regulate our behavior socratically, according to rigorous standards of reason? Must we seek to conform ourselves to God's wishes? Should we fashion values for ourselves through artistic activity? Or could we follow some other strategy altogether? To take a stand on these questions, to decide how to live well and beautifully, is at the same time to answer why we live at all.
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