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216 × 138 × 20 mm
200 pages
13 Apr 2020

A Philosophy of Simple Living Jérôme Brillaud

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.

For more information please visit philosophyofsimpleliving.com

‘In this insightful debut, Brillaud analyzes the “simple life” by examining historical figures who “saw simplicity as a way of life." . . . Those looking for advice on creating a “life governed by simple rules” will enjoy Brillaud’s inviting portraits.’ — Publishers Weekly

‘This fascinating and well-written book by Jérôme Brillaud does not evangelise about simple living or tell readers how to think or live. Rather, it is a diverse and profound review of various perspectives on simplicity that have emerged throughout the ages, from the Ancient Greeks, through Christianity, to the modern Voluntary Simplicity Movement, with notable discussions of prominent figures including Diogenes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Henry Thoreau. Paradoxically, however, it turns out the notion of ‘simplicity’ is surprisingly complex, but readers will be both challenged and enriched by this paradox. Brillaud has made a fine contribution to the philosophical literature on a concept that is as important as it is neglected.’ — Samuel Alexander, author of Prosperous Descent: Crisis as Opportunity in an Age of Limits (2015) and editor of Simple Living in History: Pioneers of the Deep Future (2014)

‘Brillaud's superb work is a powerful reminder that Western intellectual and cultural history is full of admiration for simple living. In an age of soaring emissions and growing environmental impacts, a return to simplicity – to localism, to conscious living, to low-impact lifestyles – is not only a means of survival and an ethical imperative, but also a pathway to rediscovering the basic joys of life.’ — Jeremy Caradonna, Adjunct Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Victoria, and author of Sustainability: A History (2014)

‘In a world increasingly exhausted by technical complexity and political convolution, Jérôme Brillaud provides a much needed and timely reassessment of the ancient principle and practice of simple living. Neither a ‘How to’ manual, nor a sepia album of the unassuming past, this book provides a new casting of simplicity that is both philosophic and contemporary. With no contradiction we can say that this book is a profoundly rich appreciation of simple living. It is a powerfully insightful work that deserves wide attention at a time of unprecedented confoundment and burden in the human condition.’ — Brendan Gleeson, Professor of Urban Policy at the University of Melbourne, Director of the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, and author of 'The Urban Condition' (2014)

‘'Thoughtful and beautifully written, A Philosophy of Simple Living is a rich portrait gallery of fellow humans — from Diogenes and Trappist monks to Prince Charles and advocates of Buen Vivir — attuned to the quiet activity of hearing the murmur of life. A must-read in our era of noise and distraction.'’ — Phillip John Usher, New York University

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Jérôme Brillaud is Lecturer of French at the University of Manchester. He is the author of Sombres Lumières (2011) and essays on early modern philosophy and literature.

Introduction: What’s in a Name?

1 Simple Beginnings
2 Walking in Simplicity
3 The ‘Gift to Be Simple’
4 A Simple Reform
5 Simplicity Made Simple

Conclusion: A Simple Voice