Ars Vitae: The Fate of Inwardness and the Return of the Ancient Arts of Living is an ambitious and timely book which examines the reappearance of ancient philosophical thought in contemporary American culture. Lasch-Quinn argues that despite the flood of self-help guides and our current therapeutic culture, feelings of alienation and spiritual longing continue to grip modern society. This book offers a fresh solution to this issue: a return to classic philosophy and the cultivation of an inner life.
The ancient Roman philosopher Cicero wrote that philosophy is ars vitae, the art of living. Today, signs of stress and duress point to a full-fledged crisis for individuals and communities while current modes of making sense of our lives prove inadequate. Yet, in this time of alienation and spiritual longing, we can glimpse signs of a renewed interest in ancient approaches to the art of living.
“Lasch-Quinn turns to the ancients to persuade her readers that living, contra postmodernism, can bring us to ‘the heights of awe, love and wholeness,’ even in the face of great pain and evil. . . . Many of us go through days, weeks, and even years of being beaten down, but suffering, Lasch-Quinn’s book tells us, can be transfigured into beauty, even holiness.”—City Journal
”In her profoundly insightful and thought-provoking work, Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn . . . notes, ‘the problems with contemporary culture stem in part from its inability, even in the event that basic needs are met, to provide adequate resources for the living of everyday life.’ . . . Lasch-Quinn’s work not only informs but urges the reader to seek a deeper understanding of the current problems we face.”—Journal of Sociology and Christianity
Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn is professor of history at Syracuse University. She is the author of a number of essays and books, including Black Neighbors (winner of the Berkshire prize) and Race Experts.
- Read our interview with author Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn here.
- Read a Notre Dame Press feature on Ars Vitae here.
Ars Vitae was selected as the 2020 Giles Family Fund Recipient, supporting the mission of the University of Notre Dame Press to publish books that engage the most enduring questions of our time.