My thought for today is something which I found in Epicurus (yes, I actually make a practice of going over to the enemy’s camp — by way of reconnaissance, not as a deserter!).
I think of myself as closer to Stoicism, than Aristotelianism, but in this essay, I’ll start by defending an argument for Aristotelianism.
Aristotle’s view of the emotion was more moderate than the Stoics. In his view, negative emotions like anger can be appropriate. In fact, in some cases, it would be inappropriate to fail to be angry. In On Anger, Seneca tells the story of Stilpo whose town is burned down by Demitrius. …
Stoicism is sometimes caricatured as being solipsistic. As being more concerned with the mental world than the actual world. These criticisms are not sufficient for rejecting the philosophy. But there’s a grain of truth to them.
Defensive Stoicism orients the philosophy around eliminating the negative emotions. It highlights resilience and conquering the mind as the ultimate Stoic goals. This has its benefits, but focusing on the defensive aspects of Stoicism risks leaving out what is good in the philosophy.
Let’s start with what Stoicism is. It’s an ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, highlighting virtue as the ultimate good. Its thought was given to us through the writings of former slave Epictetus, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, playwright and advisor to Nero Seneca, and the fragments of earlier Greek philosophers, like Chrysippus. …
The super skilled, the great seem to have auras of magic. They attain athletic, business, or intellectual success with tricks and tactics that appear to beyond us. Totally inscrutable. What does it take to have Tiger Woods’s skill at golf? Jeff Bezos’s business acumen? Demis Hassabis’s ability to master multiple board games and develop AlphaGo with Deepmind? What about Oskar Schindler’s altruism?
Part of the answer is likely talent. We don’t know how much of the answer. But a non-trivial amount of the answer is boring, mundane.
We romanticize extraordinary ability. We’ve all seen the caricature of geniuses in film. In the “thinking scene” we them deep in thought as illegible equations and numbers zoom by. …
The philosopher, Michael Huemer, recently wrote a piece arguing against historical philosophy. In his words:
We should think, for example, about what is the right thing to do, not what Kant said was the right thing to do; we should think about what is real, not what Plato said was real.
His primary target is academic philosophers studying history, but it’s a fair point and one that we can restate it to applying and studying the philosophy of Stoicism today:
We should think about what the right thing to do is, not what Marcus Aurelius said was the right thing to do; we should think about the correct theory of mind, not what Epictetus said about how the mind…
Fears about coronavirus are growing.
As of today, there are more than 30 countries have 10+ confirmed cases. The CDC notes that “current global circumstances suggest it is likely that this virus will cause a pandemic.” In the Bay Area, where I am currently located, it looks reasonably likely that we’ll see many more cases over the next few months.
The virus appears to be more viral and more deadly than the flu. The risk is most salient for people older than 40 while it is relatively low for younger age groups. It is crucial that the elderly are protected.
At this point it’s likely that, especially for those of us in densely populated areas, our ordinary life will be broken up and disturbed by the virus at some point this year. …
Every year millions of people set New Year’s resolutions. Most fail.
They don’t set the right goals. They aren’t realistic. They don’t have the systems in place to succeed.
Here are three ways you can ensure you avoid these outcomes.
First, you want to set the right goal. There are thousands of potential goals you could choose. From exercise to learning a new language from reading more to using social media less. Choosing what to do is no trivial matter. Some goals are much better than others. So where do you start?
Consider Epictetus question:
First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do. …
Today, I opened up Stoa and found the following quote from Seneca:
All this hurrying from place to place won’t bring you any relief, for you’re traveling in the company of your own emotions, followed by your troubles all the way.
In this letter, Letter CIV, ‘On Care of Health and Peace of Mind’, Seneca discusses traveling, since he is traveling in an attempt to cure a physical illness. There’s a common view that travel can be useful as a reset, helping us explore different styles of life, or as a way of taking personal responsibility. Plausibly, travel can that and more, but Seneca reminds us that wherever we travel, we’re followed by ourselves. …
I had the idea for Stoa after a meditation session.
I’ve found mindfulness meditation exceptionally useful, I began meditating in high school, and found Stoicism to be a powerful life philosophy.
So, why not combine the two?
Given my background in philosophy and software, I realized that I was in the perfect position to create something that I’d use daily and find helpful with building resilience. After creating and releasing Stoa, I discovered that I’m not alone.
What is Stoicism? Stoicism is an ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. It holds that the ultimate good is virtue. One practices Stoicism with the three Stoic disciplines of judgement, desire, and action. With Stoa you can use meditation and other contemplative exercises to practice these three disciplines. …
Dopamine fasting has been trending up recently. Entrepreneurs are trying it, psychologists are recommending it, while others are hating it.
What is it?
Dr. Cameron Sepah engineered the outbreak with his article, dopamine fasting 2.0.
Here’s what you do:
Think about addictive behaviors that are holding you back from your goals. Set aside time, from an hour to a day, to strategically fast from compulsive behaviors. Set time aside, to strategically feast and enjoy the same behaviors.
That’s basically it.
The use of the term dopamine here is really pretty loose — don’t take it literally. More extreme versions of the idea involve trying to get rid of all dopamine stimuli entirely. …
Recently on Sunday Stoic Podcast, Steve Karafit and I spoke about habit formation. I touched on some of this on the post on the Siren of Stoic Self-help. When you’re consuming Stoic literature, you need to convert that to action. Consumption is much easier than production. But it’s action and character that are truly valuable.
So, how do you ensure that you create a habit after reading Stoic literature?
Consider a few different ways that you could resolve to change your behavior.