Category Archives: Stoicism

Popular Stoicism

A commentary in The Wall Street Journal by James Romm looks at two recent works on Stoicism. The first is a new edition of Seneca’s famous philosophical correspondence, edited by Margaret Graver and A. A. Long. Although I have not perused this particular volume, I … Continue reading

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A Conservative Cosmopolitan

“If there is any truth in what philosophers say about the kinship between God and humanity, what course is left for human beings than to follow the example of Socrates, and when one is asked where one is from, never … Continue reading

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The Virtues of Self-Interest

“It lies in the nature of every living creature that it does everything for its own sake.”—Epictetus According to the Stoic philosopher, we cannot attain our “own particular goods without contributing to the common benefit. And so in the end … Continue reading

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Forgetting Unpleasant and Distressing Things

In Epictetus’ lectures a student complains that “unpleasant and distressing things come about in this life.” To which the Stoic replies that, wherever we go, even if it’s a Greek tourist venue like Olympia, we will have to endure heat, … Continue reading

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Friday Philosophizing

According to Socrates: “no one willingly errs.” It was a much repeated conviction of the Athenian philosopher that, with sufficient knowledge, people will invariably make the right choices. Insofar as individuals make bad choices, this is due to ignorance. Admittedly … Continue reading

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“A Verdict on Myself”

“‘A consciousness of wrongdoing is the first step to salvation.’ This remark of Epicurus’ is to me a very good one. For a person who is not aware that he is doing anything wrong has no desire to be put … Continue reading

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The Difference Between Profession and Reality

“Philosophy is not an occupation of a popular nature, nor is it pursued for the sake of self-advertisement. Its concern is not with words, but with facts. It is not carried on with the object of passing the day in … Continue reading

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Lessons From Maximus, and Others

In the very first book of The Meditations, Marcus Aurelius offers some notes, with accompanying insights, on people that he grew up with, including family members, tutors and others. In recalling the moral qualities of someone named Maximus, he lists … Continue reading

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Be Satisfied with the Smallest Step Forward

If one does not have time for the entirety of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, the ninth book can be read as a synopsis of the whole. I was particularly struck by the final entry (IX.42). The stoic emperor reminds us that … Continue reading

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Our Directing Mind

Marcus Aurelius’ spiritual diary, which has come down to us in fragmentary form, is sometimes obscure, often terse, and occasionally repetitious. But it contains enough astute observations on the human condition to ensure its enduring popularity. Recently I jotted down … Continue reading

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