president ReasonIO | editor Stoicism Today | speaker philosophical counselor & consultant | YouTube philosophy guy | co-host Wisdom for Life | teaches at MIAD

Radical freedom doesn’t mean total responsibility for failure and success

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Optimizing your Environment or not?

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In the Facebook Stoic Philosophy Group, one interlocutor — Natasha Brown — brought up an interesting issue that goes to the heart of matters central to Stoic philosophy and practice. Her post spurred some excellent and far-ranging discussion, and led me to set down some initial thoughts on the matter in an earlier post in my own main blog. Here’s what she wrote:

The Stoic virtue of self-control has been the one I’ve found consistently most difficult. Whether it’s continuing long-term exercise, eating healthily and so on.

I’m reading James Clear’s book Atomic Habits. He argues self-control isn’t sustainable, and…


There are more components to courage than just mastering fear

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One main way that Stoic philosophy characterizes the good for human beings is as virtue.

This is a term that unfortunately has become watered down in the minds of many in our time. The Stoics didn’t mean by it just any sort of goodness, whether perceived or actual. What they had in mind in talking about virtue — and the four cardinal virtues — was something considerably more robust.

Seneca provides one representative articulation of this in Letter 71 by telling us that the highest or supreme good — the one we need to look to and understand if we…


Is Stoicism as cold and indifferent as it seems?

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Practically every time I’ve taught Stoic philosophy — whether in an Ancient Philosophy class, or more often in an Ethics or an Introduction to Philosophy class — among other texts, I’ve assigned my students Epictetus’ Enchiridion, literally, his “Handbook” — a selection of passages compiled from the much longer set of his Discourses, those hopefully being more or less representative sample of Epictetus’ oral teachings, recorded by one of his pupils and friends. …


The dichotomy of control isn’t as simple as people think

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The distinction between what is “up to us” — “under our control”, “in our power,” or if you prefer, “our business” (ep’hemin in Greek) — and what is not up to us (ouk ep’hemin), 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 control” receives its definitive formulation. The handbook, or Enchiridion, compiled by his student Arrian from the much longer Discourses (preserved and composed by Arrian as well), begins by invoking this very distinction:

Of things that exist…


Get a philosopher’s explanations of the ideas behind a comedian’s jokes

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A few years back, I came across some of an Australian comedian, Michael Connell’s, philosophically-focused comedy routines on YouTube. After I emailed him and proposed having a chat sometime, we ended up not only doing that, but also carrying on an online correspondence and occasionally collaborating on various projects where our skills and interests intersected.

The first of these collaborations took place on my long-since-lapsed philosophy forum series. Back then, I was experimenting with Google Hangouts on Air, and so I proposed that Michael and I discuss philosophy and comedy. …


can we rightly call classic “existentialist” authors by that name?

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learn about the historical context that shaped great philosophers ideas, and how they contributed to that history as well

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