Is everything that happens just?

Seems like a silly question. If everything is just then injustice doesn’t exist. Just like if everything were yellow then red wouldn’t exist. But in his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius writes, If you attend well, you will find that whatever happens, happens justly. I don’t mean only in an exact order and destined connexion, but alsoContinue reading “Is everything that happens just?”

Seneca’s letters

Seneca was criticized in his own day (and in the 2,000 years since) for his hypocrisy. Maintaining his wealth and elite political status meant not always practicing what he preached. Does this means his words are empty? Well, who am I to judge Seneca? Am I better than him? Am I less of a hypocriteContinue reading “Seneca’s letters”

Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full

Stoicism is a major theme in Tom Wolfe’s 1998 novel A Man in Full. But Wolfe portrays Stoicism as a religion rather than a philosophy. Yet, while ancient philosopher Epictetus believed in Zeus, it’s hard to find a Stoic today who worships Greek deities. In Wolfe’s novel, Conrad discovers Stoicism while in prison. An out of work father,Continue reading “Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full”

How to become a better person, according to Epictetus

Most of us want to grow as individuals, to be better today than we were yesterday. But if we’re honest, we fall short too often. We need a plan. And Epictetus has one. He says we must focus on three things: Our desires (including what we wish to avoid); Our motivations to act or not actContinue reading “How to become a better person, according to Epictetus”

The paradox of confidence & caution

Is it paradoxical to say that we should combine confidence with caution? Doesn’t caution seem like the opposite of confidence? In book two of his Discourses, Epictetus says it’s a matter of knowing what to be confident about and what to be cautious about. And most of us get it backwards. He says there’s no point in stressingContinue reading “The paradox of confidence & caution”

Epictetus: Ancient wisdom for the modern world

Epictetus was a former slave turned philosopher. From his students’ notes we have four discourses, a handbook, and a few fragments. In the Enchiridion (or handbook) Epictetus wrote that external events are not up to us. And though we can exert varying degrees of influence, our desired outcome isn’t guaranteed. But our goals, values, and actionsContinue reading “Epictetus: Ancient wisdom for the modern world”

Reflections on Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations

Meditations is a disjointed book. It’s the personal journal of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 121-180), which he called “To Himself.” He didn’t intend for it to be published, so he didn’t bother to do much polishing. Aurelius’s journal rambles a bit. But his perspective comes down to the notion that, “All is as thinkingContinue reading “Reflections on Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations”

Is Stoic joy an oxymoron?

Stoicism is misunderstood. People think a Stoic is emotionless like Mr. Spock. It’s a view I’ve been guilty of promoting. In A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, philosophy professor William B. Irvine describes how the ancient philosophy of Stoicism is relevant today. His key point is that Stoicism is about finding tranquilityContinue reading “Is Stoic joy an oxymoron?”

The Painted Porch

Stoicism is valuable. – Stoicism has a bad reputation. I’ve criticized it in the past. But my misunderstandings were based on the colloquial sense of stoic in contrast to Stoicism as a philosophy. And Stoicism’s core idea is a good one: you can’t control anything except yourself, so don’t sweat the rest. The problem withContinue reading “The Painted Porch”

Male Stoicism, Traditionalism & Progressivism

Stoicism’s core idea is straightforward: you can’t control anything except yourself, so don’t sweat the rest of it. Stoicism appealed to Roman soldiers who had little control over their lives but faced great danger. And some took Stoicism to the extreme of subjecting themselves to great pain without flinching. That’s Stoicism’s dark side. Problem is, emotions happen. RepressingContinue reading “Male Stoicism, Traditionalism & Progressivism”