Does goodness really exist?

It’s a question of faith. What is “the good”? We’ve debated this question since ancient times. More to the point, is goodness objective? That is, does goodness go beyond personal opinion? The morass of opinion If goodness is subjective then it’s relative. There would be contradictory notions of goodness, negating the existence of goodness asContinue reading “Does goodness really exist?”

Anger: Marcus Aurelius

Stoicism is not about repressing emotions — it’s about not allowing emotion to override reason. But emotions such as anger and fear most easily override reason. From Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Why feel anger at the world? It’s not like the world would notice (7.38). When you lose your temper, or even feel irritated, remember thatContinue reading “Anger: Marcus Aurelius”

Calmer than you are

There’s a scene from The Big Lebowski where the Dude is upset, and hotheaded Walter brags, “Calmer than you are.” But we all know that Walter is faking it. What does it really mean to not worry about things that are not up to us? I just completed a cross-country move to be closer to family.Continue reading “Calmer than you are”

Stoic Buddhism? Or Buddhist Stoicism? Or neither?

Stoicism and Buddhism have many similarities, but significant differences as well. What follows is my attempt to modify Stoicism with aspects of Buddhism. I also modify aspects of Stoicism I don’t fully agree with, such as describing a spectrum rather than a dichotomy of control, and saying that things that are not up to us (externals)Continue reading “Stoic Buddhism? Or Buddhist Stoicism? Or neither?”

Outrage: Passion as a disease of the mind

What Stoicism says about resisting manipulation. Resisting cultural forces requires constant effort. The unending stream of media and entertainment is background noise that influences us more than we’re aware of or care to admit. And as Russ Roberts points out on his Econtalk podcast, the internet age enables us to customize our newsfeeds to amplifyContinue reading “Outrage: Passion as a disease of the mind”

Stoicism might not be a bummer after all

I’ve heard the Dude is Epicurean. He follows the pleasure principle. Take ‘er easy. And he’s anything but unemotional. I’ve never heard anyone say Mr. Spock is a dude. But wait a minute. The Coen brothers film The Big Lebowski is a tale of the Dude being very unDude. A carpet pisser ruins his rug.Continue reading “Stoicism might not be a bummer after all”

Stoic & Epicurean rivalry

Both can agree that a virtuous life is usually more pleasurable. Stoics and Epicureans were ancient rivals. And some modern followers of these philosophies may feel inclined to perpetuate that rivalry. But it’s unnecessary. Stoics and Epicureans have different answers to what it means to live a good life. There’s no objective answer to thisContinue reading “Stoic & Epicurean rivalry”

Who’s the most Stoic Star Trek character?

Mr. Spock is often seen as the ultimate stoic. Yet, Stoic philosopher Epictetus says not to be like a stone statue. Can you be emotional and stoic at the same time? No—that’s a contradiction in terms. But can you be emotional and Stoic at the same time? Yes—Stoicism has a nuanced perspective on emotion. WhetherContinue reading “Who’s the most Stoic Star Trek character?”

Stoicism & Western Buddhism

The similarity of Buddhism and Stoicism is not a new observation. But Patrick Ussher in Stoicism & Western Buddhism offers a more nuanced perspective. The similarities apply more to Western Buddhism and modern Stoicism than to the ancient versions of either. In both cases, Ussher argues, modern Westerners have revised ancient philosophies to fit currentContinue reading “Stoicism & Western Buddhism”

“A Sage wants nothing but needs many things; a fool wants everything.”

At first I found Seneca’s words from his ninth letter to Lucilius confusing. Seneca opens his letter explaining a common misconception: “Lack of feeling” in Stoicism means “a soul which rejects any sensation of evil,” not lack of emotion. That is, Sages “feel their troubles but overcome them.” A Sage has friends but also isContinue reading ““A Sage wants nothing but needs many things; a fool wants everything.””