On Desire: Why We Want What We Want

On Desire Why We Want What We Want A married person falls deeply in love with someone else A man of average income feels he cannot be truly happy unless he owns an expensive luxury car A dieter has an irresistible craving for ice cream

  • Title: On Desire: Why We Want What We Want
  • Author: William B. Irvine
  • ISBN: 9780195188622
  • Page: 275
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A married person falls deeply in love with someone else A man of average income feels he cannot be truly happy unless he owns an expensive luxury car A dieter has an irresistible craving for ice cream Desires often come to us unbidden and unwanted, and they can have a dramatic impact, sometimes changing the course of our lives In On Desire, William B Irvine takes usA married person falls deeply in love with someone else A man of average income feels he cannot be truly happy unless he owns an expensive luxury car A dieter has an irresistible craving for ice cream Desires often come to us unbidden and unwanted, and they can have a dramatic impact, sometimes changing the course of our lives In On Desire, William B Irvine takes us on a wide ranging tour of our impulses, wants, and needs, showing us where these feelings come from and how we can try to rein them in Spicing his account with engaging observations by writers like Seneca, Tolstoy, and Freud, Irvine considers the teachings of Buddhists, Hindus, the Amish, Shakers, and Catholic saints, as well as those of ancient Greek and Roman and modern European philosophers Irvine also looks at what modern science can tell us about desire what happens in the brain when we desire something and how animals evolved particular desires and he advances a new theory about how desire itself evolved Irvine also suggests that at the same time that we gained the ability to desire, we were programmed to find some things desirable than others Irvine concludes that the best way to attain lasting happiness is not to change the world around us or our place in it, but to change ourselves If we can convince ourselves to want what we already have, we can dramatically enhance our happiness Brimming with wisdom and practical advice, On Desire offers a thoughtful approach to controlling unwanted passions and attaining a meaningful life.

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    About "William B. Irvine"

    1. William B. Irvine

      William B. Irvine Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the On Desire: Why We Want What We Want book, this is one of the most wanted William B. Irvine author readers around the world.

    151 thoughts on “On Desire: Why We Want What We Want”

    1. A bit pedestrian if you come to the topic with any background. Fun diagrams like "The Chain of Desire" and "The Taxonomy of Desire" are a lame attempt at street cred. Presents a naive understanding of Buddhism. We are ever at odds with our Biological Incentive System (BIS), but must we reduce eons of evolution to an acronym worthy of an online management school primary text?


    2. Discussions about intelligence and cognition frequently omit the role of desire. Irvine's book brings desire to the forefront and describes how it works with cognition. Irvine does a good job of separating terminal (desire for own sake) from instrumental (desired for the sake of something else) desires. Terminal desires are set by evolution (food, sex, rest, protection) because they have survival value and they have a built in biological ("hedonic") incentive system. Satisfying desire feels good [...]


    3. Why do we want what we want? William Irvine’s On Desire examines the nature of desire, exploring first how profoundly it affects our lives, then surveying psychological inquiries into its basis before at last turning to consider how religions, philosophies, and odd ducks have attempted to grapple with it. Irvine is author previously of A Guide to the Good Life, a manual on the practice of Stoicism, and the two works have a common subject and a likely audience. On Desire is one part science and [...]


    4. I feel a bit nerdy typing this up at 1:00 a.m. on a Saturday night so I can return this book tomorrow on my way to babysitting. They're 8 days overdue at the library. My favorite philosophy professor reviewed this book and half way through the book I noticed his quip on the back of the book"William B. Irvine has written a disarmingly seductive and easily readable treatise on the origins, nature, vicissitudes, and 'crises' of desire. He simply and clearly discusses biologically incentive systems, [...]


    5. Seriously good summary of various philosophers' takes on "why we want what we want." No Oprah-esque at all, though it does end with a somewhat zen view on recognizing the irrational/emotive parts of our desires so that we can influenceif not controlose desires.Like "stumbling on happiness," this is one of those books that lucidly describes/categorizes human experiences that you recognize. For example:"The relationship between the intellect and the emotions is therefore asymmetrical. Although the [...]


    6. Heard this author on NPR, talking about another book, A Guide to the Good Life: The Art of Stoic Joy. I read this since the other isn't out in paperback and isn't in the library. I liked this one a lot. Made me think - though I feel like I should have known more of this.


    7. This was better than I expected, maybe because of the practical self-help side of it that I didn't expect -- not only does Irvine discuss desire, he talks about different methods of dealing with desire, too. I think that I'll read it again and continue to find value in it.


    8. very interesting read. It is a keeper in the library for times when i want to rethink my life. it could be summarized a bit but on the other side if it was denser maybe it would be too much.


    9. If you are the kind of person who reads books like this one, then you probably already knew much of what it has to say. In brief the book covers stoicism, zen-Buddhism, cynicism, epicureanism and various Christian sects. However this makes a fine reading experience - vivid language, enlightening anecdotes, intriguing little reflections spread throughout - it simply is pleasant to hear the literary voice of William B. Irvine.The following double-quote (Irvine quotes somebody named Fran Lebowitz) [...]


    10. Terrific packaging. While there were moments here and there, ultimately I did not fall in love with this. The chapter titles were great. Throwing the word "desire" into anything makes it compelling--The Evolution of Desire, The Psychology of Desire etc. I really felt I had more of an understanding about desire from Buddhist reading stuff than this. Anyway I liked this Zen story on page 191: "There is a story about a Zen student who goes to a temple and asks how long it will take him to gain enli [...]


    11. Irvine does a good job with this book and it can be an introductory book on understanding and managing desire - to defeat something you need to understand it well.Origin of Desire: He starts with our evolutionary past - our evolutionary ancestors who had desires were more likely to survive and reproduce than the ones who didn't. Two kinds of desires:- Terminal Desire: An end in itself. - Instrumental desire: it is part of a chain desires. We normally need to go through a lot of instrumental desi [...]


    12. When I took this book from the shelf at BN and flipped through the opening pages, I saw a page with a single quote from La Rochefoucauld: "Little is needed to make a wise man happy, but nothing can content a fool. That is why nearly all men are miserable." And with that, I bought the book.The text itself is easy to read. Though clearly writing as a philosopher, Irvine neither preaches nor obfuscates. The three sections, "The Secret Life of Desire," "The Science of Desire," and "Dealing with Desi [...]


    13. I came across this book by complete accident - i.e. by Googling my own name, 'William F Irvine', just to see what came up. Discovering that my namesake is a Philosophy Professor (I have a degree in the same subject and am particularly interested in the area of desire) I couldn't NOT buy a copy. I enjoyed William B Irvine's comprehensive tour of the religious and philosophical views on the subject, particularly the Stoics'. I also enjoyed his explanations on desire's biological/psychological orig [...]


    14. Intriguing, but the parts never fully come together, and Prof. Irvine sometimes uses bizarre metaphors to explain his ideas. The general argument, based on a look at evolutionary psychology and the history of philosophy, is that humans can never fully escape desire, due to its biological and genetic components. However, as rational beings (in theory), humans can adjust their mindset and, if not eliminate desire, learn to control desire. There is no single way to master desire, and people would ( [...]


    15. As biological beings, our lives are primarily subjected to fulfilling desires that are dictated by our pre-conscious emotions. Our capacity for reason and intellect are, at bottom, devices evolved to fulfill insatiable desires and not the rational, logical entities we may believe they are. It is only through a conscious act of will based on some well-thought out strategy, be it religious, philosophical or some other method, that we can begin to overcome this life dictated by desire in order to l [...]


    16. I liked the breakdown of desire into component parts of terminal desires and instrumental desires. The former being hunger, sex, status etc and largely biologically determined, and the intellectual desires that we build in chains to fulfil them. I’d never really thought about desire in this way. The rest was largely an account of how different, philosophers, religions etc have tackled the issue. This was not a particularly demanding book, but the author did succeed in getting me to think which [...]


    17. Nice little book that examines how desire has a negative impact on our lives, why we have desire in the first place, and methods to overcome desire and live a more fulfilled life. I skimmed through the second section about the science of desire, but I thought the third section which examines religious and philosophical ways to grapple with our lust for unnecessary things (and our need for the admiration of other people) was concise and a good starting point for further reading. Also, I kept thin [...]


    18. On Desire is a fascinating book that looks at how we interact with desire. The author comes off as a little prudish, advocating more of an approach of ignoring desires, but even with that tone, the book provides a look at what desire is, what the neurological basis of it is, as well as how different cultures and communities deal with desire. I would have liked to have seen exercises in this book from the author. It is more of a philosophical treatise than anything else, but still worth a read.


    19. Very easy to read, with a good balance between explanation and stories. Didn't get a large amount of new material out of it, but was worthwhile for what I did:- Distinction between hedonistic and non-hedonistic, terminal and non-terminal desires- Whole chapter on protestant approaches to desire (Amish), how they place community above all else, and the different ways they approach sex and celibacy.


    20. On Desire is a fun romp through literature, religion, philosophy and science to discuss the basis of desire. Irvine may be a professor but his prose is written for the everyman. I found myself constantly quoting passages to my husband, and thoroughly enjoyed his wit. On Desire may not cure the wants and needs that I have 100% but it does help me understand where they come from, and give me advice on how to conserve some of them.


    21. Great. I moved straight onto this after reading Irvine's book on Stoicism. While the middle part (on the biological and social reasons for our desire) drags a little at times, and the practical third part of the book is lighter than it could have been, ultimately I'm a different person having read this book -- and that is significant considering I was thinking about this stuff a lot before anyway. This has given my thoughts some structure and foundation.


    22. disappointing. author was annoying repetitive throughout the book (seriously, cutting that stuff would have saved over 50 pages!) and his analysis of both the biology of desire and the counsels of the wise for dealing with desire are sadly pedestrian. I really didn't learn anything new from this book. :(


    23. While the information was interesting and the book contained useful insights, it was not a page-turner. The writing wasn't bad, exactly. It was just boring. There's a good chance I was expecting too much out of a philosophy book.If I could rate just the information conveyed, it would merit 5 stars.


    24. A clearly written recap of the basics when it comes to the philosophy and psychology of desire. That's about all, though. There are more original philosophers and penetrating psychologists out there writing on the subject. As for personally coming to terms with desire, you're probably best of with one of the sacred books of Buddhism.


    25. from the library c2006Part one the secret life of desirech 1 the ebb and flow of desirech 2 other peoplePart two the science of desirech 3 Mapping our desiresch 4 the wellsprings of desirech 5 the psychology of desirech 6ch 7Part three dealing with our desiresch 8 the human conditionch 9ch 13


    26. This book is fairly light and would be appropriate for an undergraduate who is just beginning to think about desire. It does have some interesting discussion of historical attempts to manage our unruly passions. For example, it contains an interesting discussion of the Amish and their strategies for managing the social emotions. The focus of the book is less theoretical than practical.


    27. Wow, really well researched! This is a great one to check out! Not only does he talk about ways we can check in with the arising and falling of the presence of desire and find a balance to clear and transform that emotion, but the author discusses why DESIRES biologically occur with us humans! Very interesting!


    28. It got a bit spacey at times and was a bit repetitive for me. That said, you might enjoy it if you like reading philosophy (where they dissect everything and over-explain each scenario). Also, this book does a decent job of classifying desires.


    29. This book thoroughly explores religious, philosophical, and scientific explanations of desire. It also helps the reader to understand the desire formation process so as to selectively inhibit desires from affecting long term goals.


    30. I can write a book of my thoughts of this book, it brought up all kinds of conversations, the kind that you would have with a close friend and never ends.It's one of my favorites . I like to go back to it and read the tagged sections.


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