Discovering Pierre Hadot

Discovering Pierre Hadot feels important to me. Too often with philosophy I feel these writers and thinkers are engaged in discourse for the sake of discourse, empty posturing. With Hadot there is a purpose to the philosophy, beyond the love of wisdom, a sense that one can and should use philosophy to change life, to seek out a life with less anxiety, more contentment. It is strange how when reading, though one drifts languidly this way and that, when viewed from sufficient perspective, a definite and deliberate trajectory can be seen.

5 thoughts on “Discovering Pierre Hadot

  1. I sometimes wonder, though, whether explicitly searching out a life “with less anxiety, more contentment” – i.e., seeking to improve one’s own lot – isn’t just another reinforcement of the striving self: i.e., if I perform my spiritual exercises with enough discipline, or if I become ascetic enough, I will at last achieve bliss. Seeking liberation from the ego through the workings of the ego.

    Simone Weil:

    “Two ways of renouncing material possessions:
    1. To give them up with a view to some spiritual advantage.
    2. To conceive of them and feel them as conducive to spiritual well-being (for example: hunger, fatigue, and humiliation cloud the mind and hinder meditation) and yet to renounce them nonetheless.
    Only the second kind of renunciation means nakedness of spirit…
    We must give up everything which is not grace and not even desire grace.”


    I’ve ordered Hadot’s “Plotinus or the Simplicity or Vision”. Looking forward to it.

    • I couldn’t agree more. Simone Weil’s statement encapsulates the essential difference between the Epicurean and Stoic philosophies, both of which make eminent sense. I am pretty convinced that much of Greco-Roman philosophy owes a lot to earlier Eastern practise.

      Bliss is less the aim than, in a life without purpose, seeking to minimise pain and achieve some degree of contentment (avoiding the belaboured word happiness, closer to a peace of mind).


      Hadot’s “Plotinus or the Simplicity or Vision” and his Marcus Aurelius book are in my queue to read after
      “Philosophy as a way of life” (current), “The Present Alone is our Happiness” (next), “What is Ancient Philosophy” and “The Veil of Isis”.

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