Closereads: Epictetus’ “Discourses” (Part One)

Sign up for Closereads at patreon.com/closereadsphilosophy to get part 2 of this reading, as well as our previous and future installments of this new podcast. For the first time since 2015, we return to this foundational Stoic figure, reading through ch. 1 of this series of informal lectures written down by Epictetus' student Arrian in around 108 C.E. What is it about  Continue Reading …

Ep. 231: Descartes’s “Discourse” on Wisdom and Certainty (Citizen Edition)

On René Descartes’s Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One's Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences (1637). This narrative summary of Descartes's intellectual life was his first actual publication, four years before his Meditations. Unlike the unpublished Rules for Direction of the Mind (1629), this text doesn't actually dwell on his method at length, though  Continue Reading …

PREVIEW-Ep 201 Marcus Aurelius’s “Meditations” (Part Three)

Mark and Seth build on parts 1 and 2 of our discussion of Marcus to get further into the specifics of his metaphysics and how this is supposed to relate to behavior. Can Stoic directives really come solely "from reason," as he claims? How does this interact with the behaviors that we pursue (appropriately, according to Marcus) "by nature," i.e., without conscious deliberation  Continue Reading …

Ep. 201 Follow-Up: More on Marcus Aurelius’s “Meditations” (Citizens Only)

Mark and Seth get further into the specifics of Marcus's metaphysics and how this is supposed to relate to behavior. Can his directives really come solely "from reason," as he claims? How does this interact with the behaviors that we pursue (appropriately, according to Marcus) "by nature," i.e., without conscious deliberation required? Seth is concerned with how individualistic  Continue Reading …

Ep. 201: Marcus Aurelius’s Stoicism with Ryan Holiday (Part Two)

More on The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (180 CE) and Ryan's The Daily Stoic (2016). We talk Stoicism as "pre-mourning," love of fate even with trauma, are Stoics committed to a divine plan, Stoic political ethics, ethical models for emulation, and the idea of overwriting your brain with the Stoic operating system. Hear part 1 first, or get the full, unbroken Citizen  Continue Reading …

Ep. 201: Marcus Aurelius’s Stoicism with Ryan Holiday (Part One)

On The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (ca. 180 CE) plus Ryan's The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living (2016), which was co-written with Stephen Hanselman and features original translations and interpretations of passages from Marcus, Seneca, Epictetus, and others. What does Stoicism look like in practice, in both ancient and modern  Continue Reading …

Ep. 201: Marcus Aurelius’s Stoicism with Ryan Holiday (Citizen Edition)

On The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (ca. 180 CE) plus Ryan's The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living (2016), which was co-written with Stephen Hanselman and features original translations and interpretations of passages from Marcus, Seneca, Epictetus, and others. What does Stoicism look like in practice, in both ancient and modern  Continue Reading …

“Mind Games” and “Word Games”: Practical Philosophers, Give Philosophy a Chance!

In preparation for our episode #201 with Ryan Holiday about Marcus Aurelius, our third bout with Stoicism, I have been listening to many episodes of The Practical Stoic podcast, which features among other things, very good interviews with Ryan, with our previous guest Massimo, and with friend-of-our-podcast Gregory B. Sadler. If you're looking for a quick historical overview of  Continue Reading …

Episode 158: Boethius: The Consolation of Philosophy (Part One)

On the Consolation, written as Boethius awaited execution in 524 CE. Do bad things really happen to good people? Boethius, surprisingly, says no, for Stoic (anything that can be taken away can't be of central importance; you can't lose your virtue in this way), Aristotelian (all things tend toward the good, and the best thing for a person is achieving his or her innate  Continue Reading …

What Epictetus Really Thinks Is in Our Power

The distinction between what is "up to us"—"under our control", "in our power," or if you prefer, "our business" (ep'humin in Greek)—and what is not up to us (ouk ep'humin), eventually becomes a central doctrine of the Stoic school and tradition of philosophy. This particularly so in the thought of the late Stoic Epictetus, where the presently much-discussed "dichotomy of  Continue Reading …

Episode 144: Guest Martha Nussbaum on Anger

On Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice (2016). What role should we allow anger to play in our public life? Should systems of punishment be strictly impartial, or should they be retributive, i.e., expressive of public anger? Nussbaum thinks that anger necessarily involves the desire for payback, and that this is nearly always unhelpful. We should instead use  Continue Reading …

Ep. 144: Guest Martha Nussbaum on Anger (Citizen Edition)

On Anger and Forgiveness: Resentment, Generosity, Justice (2016). What role should we allow anger to play in our public life? Should systems of punishment be strictly impartial, or should they be retributive, i.e., expressive of public anger? Nussbaum thinks that anger necessarily involves the desire for payback, and that this is nearly always unhelpful. We should instead use  Continue Reading …

Episode 132: Living Stoically with Seneca and Massimo

On selected "moral epistles" (from around 65 CE) by Lucius Annaeus Seneca: 4. On the Terrors of Death, 12. On Old Age, 49. On the Shortness of Life, 59. On Pleasure and Joy, 62. On Good Company, 92. On the Happy Life, 96. On Facing Hardship, and 116. On Self Control. We're joined by Massimo Pigliucci of the How to Be a Stoic blog, who for a long time was on the Rationally  Continue Reading …

Episode 132: Living Stoically with Seneca and Massimo (Citizen Edition)

On selected "moral epistles" (from around 65 CE) by Lucius Annaeus Seneca: 4. On the Terrors of Death, 12. On Old Age, 49. On the Shortness of Life, 59. On Pleasure and Joy, 62. On Good Company, 92. On the Happy Life, 96. On Facing Hardship, and 116. On Self Control. We're joined by Massimo Pigliucci of the How to Be a Stoic blog, who for a long time was on the Rationally  Continue Reading …

Entering the Stoic World, Part 2: Metaphysics

This post examines the metaphysics or philosophy of nature behind the Stoic views on community and detachment described in Part 1, and how this metaphysics changed in the later centuries of the school's history. Before going into detail, it will be helpful to contextualize the Stoics' metaphysics within their broader tradition of philosophy. Despite preferring their porticoes  Continue Reading …

Entering the Stoic World, Part 1: Cynicism 2.0

Monday the 2nd to Sunday the 8th of November 2015 is the fourth annual international Live Like A Stoic Week. The organizers, Stoicism Today, have provided lots of resources on mental exercises and principles of virtue to assist you in the endeavor, along with psychological reasons for aspiring to this practice in the modern world. So, why I am here? To provide some less  Continue Reading …