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Podcast Profile: Stoic Meditations

podcast imageTwitter: @CityCollegeNY
1094 episodes
2017 to 2022
Average episode: 3 minutes
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Categories: Life Philosophy • Monologue (Non-Course)

Podcaster's summary: Occasional reflections on the wisdom of Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers with Prof. Massimo Pigliucci. Complete index by author and source at (cover art by Marek Škrabák; original music by Ian Jolin-Rasmussen). Support this podcast:

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List Updated: 2024-Apr-14 06:08 UTC. Episodes: 1094. Feedback: @TrueSciPhi.

2022-Aug-23 • 3 minutes
1094. The Olympics have already started!
When faced with anything painful or pleasurable, anything bringing glory or disrepute, realize that the crisis is now, that the Olympics have started, and waiting is no longer an option; that the chance for progress, to keep or lose, turns on the events of a single day. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Aug-22 • 2 minutes
1093. Homer and Chrysippus
If I admire the interpretation [of a philosophical treatise], I have turned into a literary critic instead of a philosopher, the only difference being that, instead of Homer, I’m interpreting Chrysippus. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Aug-19 • 2 minutes
1092. Don't judge others
Someone bathes in haste; don’t say he bathes badly, but in haste. Someone drinks a lot of wine; don’t say he drinks badly, but a lot. Until you know their reasons, how do you know that their actions are vicious? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Aug-18 • 2 minutes
1091. Non sequiturs
The following are non-sequiturs: ‘I am richer, therefore superior to you’; or ‘I am a better speaker, therefore a better person, than you.’ | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Aug-17 • 3 minutes
1090. Every cup has two handles
Everything has two handles: one by which it may be borne, another by which it cannot. If your brother acts unjustly, do not lay hold on the affair by the handle of his injustice, for by that it cannot be borne, but rather by the opposite — that he is your brother, that he was brought up with you; and thus you will lay hold on it as it is to be borne. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Aug-16 • 3 minutes
1089. Of insults and logic
Whenever anyone criticizes or wrongs you, remember that they are only doing or saying what they think is right. They cannot be guided by your views, only their own; so if their views are wrong, they are the ones who suffer insofar as they are misguided. I mean, if someone declares a true conjunctive proposition to be false, the proposition is unaffected, it is they who come off worse for having their ignorance exposed. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Aug-15 • 2 minutes
1088. Wrong priorities
As you are careful when you walk not to step on a nail or turn your ankle, so you should take care not to do any injury to your character at the same time. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Aug-12 • 3 minutes
1087. Conversation and company
When you’re called upon to speak, then speak, but never about banalities like gladiators, horses, sports, food and drink – common-place stuff. Above all don’t gossip about people, praising, blaming or comparing them. Avoid fraternizing with non-philosophers. If you must, though, be careful not to sink to their level; because, you know, if a companion is dirty, his friends cannot help but get a little dirty too, no matter how clean they started out. | | --- | | Support this podcast: https://podcasters.spo...
2022-Aug-11 • 2 minutes
1086. Grief and loss
When somebody’s wife or child dies, to a man we all routinely say, ‘Well, that’s part of life.’ But if one of our own family is involved, then right away it’s ‘Poor, poor me!’ We would do better to remember how we react when a similar loss afflicts others. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Aug-10 • 2 minutes
1085. Money
If I can make money while remaining honest, trustworthy and dignified, show me how and I will do it. But if you expect me to sacrifice my own values, just so you can get your hands on things that aren’t even good – well, you can see yourself how thoughtless and unfair you’re being. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Aug-09 • 2 minutes
1084. On insults
Remember, it is not enough to be hit or insulted to be harmed, you must believe that you are being harmed. If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation. … Take a moment before reacting, and you will find it is easier to maintain control. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Aug-08 • 3 minutes
1083. Do not groan inwardly
When you see anyone weeping for grief, either that his son has gone abroad or that he has suffered in his affairs, take care not to be overcome by the apparent evil, but discriminate and be ready to say, "What hurts this man is not this occurrence itself — for another man might not be hurt by it — but the view he chooses to take of it." As far as conversation goes, however, do not disdain to accommodate yourself to him and, if need be, to groan with him. Take heed, however, not to groan inwardly, too. | | ...
2022-Aug-05 • 3 minutes
1082. The fundamental tradeoff
You have to realize, it isn’t easy to keep your will in agreement with nature, as well as externals. Caring about the one inevitably means you are going to shortchange the other. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Aug-04 • 3 minutes
1081. Your reservoir of virtues
Provoked by the sight of a handsome man or a beautiful woman, you will discover within you the contrary power of self-restraint. Faced with pain, you will discover the power of endurance. If you are insulted, you will discover patience. In time, you will grow to be confident that there is not a single impression that you will not have the moral means to tolerate. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Aug-03 • 3 minutes
1080. The path to peace
Don’t hope that events will turn out the way you want, welcome events in whichever way they happen: this is the path to peace. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Aug-02 • 3 minutes
1079. The use of impressions
What quality belongs to you? The intelligent use of impressions. If you use impressions as nature prescribes, go ahead and indulge your pride, because then you will be celebrating a quality distinctly your own. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Aug-01 • 3 minutes
1078. Facts vs value judgments
It is not events that disturb people, it is their judgements concerning them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jul-28 • 3 minutes
1077. You should always have two goals in mind
When you’re about to embark on any action, remind yourself what kind of action it is. If you’re going out to take a bath, set before your mind the things that happen at the baths, that people splash you, that people knock up against you, that people steal from you. And you’ll thus undertake the action in a surer manner if you say to yourself at the outset, ‘I want to take a bath and ensure at the same time that my choice remains in harmony with nature.’ | | --- | | Support this podcast: https://podcaster...
2022-Jul-27 • 3 minutes
1076. Remember, we are all mortals
If you kiss your child or your wife, say to yourself that it is a human being that you're kissing; and then, if one of them should die, you won't be upset. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jul-26 • 3 minutes
1075. Question your impressions
So make a practice at once of saying to every strong impression: ‘An impression is all you are, not the source of the impression.’ Then test and assess it with your criteria, but one primarily: ask, ‘Is this something that is, or is not, up to me?’ | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jul-25 • 4 minutes
1074. The fundamental rule of life
Some things are up to us, while others are not. Up to us are opinion, motivation, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever is of our own doing; not up to us are our body, our property, reputation, office, and, in a word, whatever is not of our own doing. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jul-22 • 3 minutes
1073. Virtue is the only good
Despise poverty; no man lives as poor as he was born: despise pain; either it will cease or you will cease: despise death; it either ends you or takes you elsewhere: despise fortune; I have given her no weapon that can reach the mind. I have taken care that no one should hold you captive against your will: the way of escape lies open before you: if you do not choose to fight, you may fly. For this reason, of all those matters which I have deemed essential for you, I have made nothing easier for you than to ...
2022-Jul-21 • 3 minutes
1072. What Nature has given us
I have placed every good thing within your own breasts: it is your good fortune not to need any good fortune. Yet many things befall you which are sad, dreadful, hard to be borne. Well, as I have not been able to remove these from your path, I have given your minds strength to combat all: bear them bravely. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jul-20 • 3 minutes
1071. The Stoic deterministic universe
The fates guide us, and the length of every person’s days is decided at the first hour of their birth: every cause depends upon some earlier cause: one long chain of destiny decides all things, public or private. Wherefore, everything must be patiently endured, because events do not fall in our way, as we imagine, but come by a regular law. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jul-19 • 3 minutes
1070. We should seek out life's challenges
To be always prosperous, and to pass through life without a twinge of mental distress, is to remain ignorant of one half of nature. You are a great human being; but how am I to know it, if fortune gives you no opportunity of showing your virtue? I think you unhappy because you never have been unhappy: you have passed through your life without meeting an antagonist: no one will know your powers, not even you yourself. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jul-18 • 3 minutes
1069. It doesn't matter what you bear, but how you bear it
Good people ought to act so as not to fear troubles and difficulties, nor to lament their hard fate, to take in good part whatever befalls them, and force it to become a blessing to them. It does not matter what you bear, but how you bear it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jun-17 • 3 minutes
1068. No evil can befall a good person
The pressure of adversity does not affect the mind of a brave person; for the mind of someone brave maintains its balance and throws its own complexion over all that takes place, because it is more powerful than any external circumstances. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jun-16 • 3 minutes
1067. The Stoic argument from design
Seneca presents an argument from design to conclude that the universe is rationally and providentially arranged, just like Cleanthes, Chrysippus, and Cicero had done before him, and like Epictetus will do afterwards. Of course, from a modern scientific perspective, such argument does not hold water. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jun-15 • 4 minutes
1066. Stoic R&R
It does good also to take walks out of doors, that our spirits may be raised and refreshed by the open air and fresh breeze. Sometimes we gain strength by driving in a carriage, by travel, by change of air, or by social meals and a more generous allowance of wine. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jun-14 • 3 minutes
1065. Democritus vs Heraclitus
We ought therefore to bring ourselves into such a state of mind that all the vices of the vulgar may not appear hateful to us, but merely ridiculous, and we should imitate Democritus rather than Heraclitus. The latter of these, whenever he appeared in public, used to weep, the former to laugh. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jun-13 • 3 minutes
1064. Stoic non-attachment
Zeno, the chief of our school, when he heard the news of a shipwreck, in which all his property had been lost, remarked, “Fortune bids me follow philosophy in lighter marching order.” | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-May-31 • 3 minutes
1063. The reserve clause
He who does many things often puts himself in Fortune’s power, and it is safest not to tempt her often, but always to remember her existence, and never to promise oneself anything on her security. I will set sail unless anything happens to prevent me; I shall be praetor, if nothing hinders me; my financial operations will succeed, unless anything goes wrong with them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-May-30 • 3 minutes
1062. The problem with busyness
We must limit the running to and fro which most people practice, rambling about houses, theaters, and marketplaces. They mind other peoples’ business, and always seem as though they themselves had something to do. If you ask them as they come out of their own door, “Whither are you going?” they will answer, “By Hercules, I do not know: but I shall see some people and do some things.” | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-May-27 • 2 minutes
1061. What do we labor for?
The next point to these will be to take care that we do not labour for what is vain, or labour in vain: that is to say, neither to desire what we are not able to obtain, nor yet, having obtained our desire too late, and after much toil, to discover the folly of our wishes: in other words, that our labour may not be without result, and that the result may not be unworthy of our labour. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-May-26 • 3 minutes
1060. The premeditatio malorum
For by looking forward to everything which can happen as though it would happen to us, we take the sting out of all evils, which can make no difference to those who expect it and are prepared to meet it. … Disease, captivity, disaster, conflagration, are none of them unexpected: I always knew with what disorderly company Nature had associated me. … Ought I to be surprised if the dangers which have always been circling around me at last assail me? | | --- | | Support this podcast: https://podcasters.spoti...
2022-May-25 • 3 minutes
1059. It's a matter of attitude
In every station of life you will find amusements, relaxations, and enjoyments; that is, provided you be willing to make light of evils rather than to hate them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-May-24 • 3 minutes
1058. How many books? How many authors?
What is the use of possessing numberless books and libraries, whose titles their owner can hardly read through in a lifetime? A student is over-whelmed by such a mass, not instructed, and it is much better to devote yourself to a few writers than to skim through many. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-May-23 • 3 minutes
1057. The real value of things
Let us accustom ourselves to set aside mere outward show, and to measure things by their uses, not by their ornamental trappings. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-May-20 • 3 minutes
1056. Whereby Seneca praises Diogenes
The best amount of property to have is that which is enough to keep us from poverty, and which yet is not far removed from it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-May-19 • 3 minutes
1055. The problem with too much wealth
If you compare all the other ills from which we suffer—deaths, sicknesses, fears, regrets, endurance of pains and labors—with those miseries which our money inflicts upon us, the latter will far outweigh all the others. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-May-18 • 3 minutes
1054. Be careful the company you keep
We should choose for our friends those who are, as far as possible, free from strong desires: for vices are contagious, and pass from someone to their neighbor, and injure those who touch them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-May-17 • 3 minutes
1053. What we do is a preferred indifferent, how we do it is not
No good is done by forcing one’s mind to engage in uncongenial work: it is vain to struggle against Nature. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-May-16 • 3 minutes
1052. Careful about what and why you commit yourself to
We ought first to examine our own selves, next the business which we propose to transact, next those for whose sake or in whose company we transact it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-May-06 • 2 minutes
1051. Consider how much or how little you can do
We ought therefore, to expand or contract ourselves according as the state of things presents itself to us, or as Fortune offers us opportunities. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-May-05 • 3 minutes
1050. Be a good citizen
The services of a good citizen are never thrown away: he does good by being heard and seen, by his expression, his gestures, his silent determination, and his very walk. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-May-04 • 2 minutes
1049. Wisdom and age
Often a man who is very old in years has nothing beyond his age by which he can prove that he has lived a long time. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-May-03 • 3 minutes
1048. Serving the cosmopolis
Seneca explains that there are many ways to help improve the human cosmopolis: one can be a candidate for public office, a defense lawyer, or a teacher. Zeno, Cleanthes, and Chrysippus encouraged involvement in politics, but where themselves teachers. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-May-02 • 2 minutes
1047. A very good question
How long are we to go on doing the same thing? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-28 • 2 minutes
1046. Don't flee from yourself
Hence men undertake aimless wanderings and travel along distant shores, trying to soothe that fickleness of disposition which always is dissatisfied with the present. As Lucretius says: “Thus every mortal from himself does flee.” | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-27 • 3 minutes
1045. Is tranquillity of mind really a good thing?
What you desire, to be undisturbed, is a great thing, nay, the greatest thing of all, and one which raises a man almost to the level of a god. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-26 • 3 minutes
1044. On public service
I will obey the maxims of our school and plunge into public life, not because the purple robe attracts me, but in order that I may be able to be of use to my friends, my relatives, to all my countrymen, and indeed to all mankind. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-25 • 3 minutes
1043. Seneca's life style
Seneca explains that he prefers simple cloths and easily prepared food, not the kind that "goes out of the body by the same path by which it came in." | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-22 • 3 minutes
1042. Chrysippus' cylinder
Cicero introduces Chrysippus' example of a rolling cylinder as an analogy for the inner workings of the human will. This results in a defense of compatibilism about free will based on distinguishing internal from external causes. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-21 • 3 minutes
1041. The three basic positions on free will
Cicero explains that the Greco-Romans were divided on free will along three possible positions, which turn out to be the very same that still characterize the modern debate on the subject. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-20 • 3 minutes
1040. Carneades on free will
Cicero presents Carneades' response to Chrysippus' argument about free will and determinism. Though interesting, this time it is the Skeptics who got it wrong and the Stoics who are on target. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-19 • 3 minutes
1039. Co-causality
Cicero explains Chrysippus' theory of co-causality, which plays a crucial role in his rejection of the so-called lazy argument concerning free will. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-15 • 3 minutes
1038. The lazy argument
Cicero summarizes the so-called lazy argument about the nature of faith, explaining why it doesn't make any sense. Fate, according to the Stoics, just is the universal web of causes and effects. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-14 • 2 minutes
1037. Self-caused free will?
No external cause need be sought to explain the voluntary movements of the mind; for voluntary motion possesses the intrinsic property of being in our power and of obeying us, and its obedience is not uncaused, for its nature is itself the cause of this. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-13 • 3 minutes
1036. The Epicurean swerve
Cicero nails the Epicureans for their ad hoc theory of the so-called swerve, a sudden lateral movement of atoms meant to preserve the notion of free will in an otherwise mechanistic universe. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-12 • 4 minutes
1035. Different kinds of causality?
Is the fact that Carneades went to the Academy on a given day the result of necessary causes determined from the beginning of time, or of local causes that could have been otherwise? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-11 • 3 minutes
1034. On free will: Chrysippus vs Cicero
For it does not follow that if differences in people’s propensities are due to natural and antecedent causes, therefore our wills and desires are also due to natural and antecedent causes; for if that were the case, we should have no freedom of the will at all. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-08 • 2 minutes
1033. Ethics and morality are the same thing
Because it relates to character, called in Greek ethos, we usually term that part of philosophy ‘the study of character.’ But the suitable course is to add to the Latin language by giving this subject the name of ‘moral science.’ | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-07 • 2 minutes
1032. On magnanimity
It is no proof of a great mind to give and to throw away one’s bounty; the true test of a great mind is to throw away one’s bounty and still to give. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-06 • 3 minutes
1031. The importance of memory
Consider within yourself, whether you have always shown gratitude to those to whom you owe it, whether no one’s kindness has ever been wasted upon you, whether you constantly bear in mind all the benefits which you have received. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-05 • 3 minutes
1030. Socrates' cloak
Seneca tells the story of when Socrates asked his friends for money to buy a cloak, and reminds us of our duty to bestow benefits on our friends before they even ask. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-04 • 3 minutes
1029. The problem with being ultra-wealthy
Wretched is he who can take pleasure in the size of the audit book of his estate, in great tracts of land cultivated by slaves in chains, in huge flocks and herds which require provinces and kingdoms for their pasture ground. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Apr-01 • 3 minutes
1028. Useful vs leisure knowledge
There is nothing which is hard to discover except those things by which we gain nothing beyond the credit of having discovered them. Whatever things tend to make us better or happier are either obvious or easily discovered. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-31 • 3 minutes
1027. Memorize reminders to be ready to act
The cynic Demetrius had an admirable saying about this, that one gained more by having a few wise precepts ready and in common use, than by learning many without having them at hand. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-30 • 2 minutes
1026. Gratitude irrespective of reputation
You do wrong if you are grateful only for the sake of your reputation, and not to satisfy your conscience. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-29 • 4 minutes
1025. A long list of dangerous fools
Do you not see how powerful people are driven to ruin by the want of candor among their friends, whose loyalty has degenerated into slavish obsequiousness? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-28 • 3 minutes
1024. Some things are worth much more than the asking price
Some things are of greater value than the price which we pay for them. You buy of a physician life and good health, the value of which cannot be estimated in money; from a teacher you buy the education of a gentleman and mental culture. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-25 • 3 minutes
1023. You don't own anything
That which you esteem so highly, that by which you think that you are made rich and powerful, owns but the shabby title of “house” or “money;” but when you have given it away, it becomes a benefit. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-24 • 3 minutes
1022. Ungrateful politicians
Seneca discusses the widespread ingratitude of politicians toward their country and fellow citizens. Which raises the obvious question: why is it so difficult to find virtuous politicians? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-23 • 3 minutes
1021. Sick stomach, sick mind
Just as the stomach, when disordered by disease, turns every kind of sustenance into a source of pain, so whatever you entrust to an ill-regulated mind becomes to it a burden, an annoyance, and a source of misery. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-22 • 2 minutes
1020. Instinctive vs conscious actions
A benefit is a voluntary act, but to do good to oneself is an instinctive one. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-21 • 2 minutes
1019. Diogenes and Alexander
Diogenes was far more powerful, far richer even than Alexander, who then possessed everything; for there was more that Diogenes could refuse to receive than that Alexander was able to give. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-18 • 3 minutes
1018. The reserve clause
The wise person begins everything with the saving clause, “If nothing shall occur to the contrary.” | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-17 • 3 minutes
1017. Seneca, the Skeptic?
We proceed in the way in which reason, not absolute truth, directs us. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-16 • 3 minutes
1016. Of sages and torture
A good conscience is of value on the rack. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-15 • 3 minutes
1015. The two fundamental human strengths
While all other animals have sufficient strength to protect themselves, man is covered by a soft skin, has no powerful teeth or claws with which to terrify other creatures, but weak and naked by himself is made strong by union. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-14 • 3 minutes
1014. Even bad people appreciate virtue
Nature bestows upon us all this immense advantage, that the light of virtue shines into the minds of all alike; even those who do not follow her, behold her. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-11 • 3 minutes
1013. The duty to help others and the providential nature of the universe
Seneca makes an argument that we have a duty to help others based on the providential nature of the universe. But the universe does not have a providential nature. Fortunately, there is a way to rescue Seneca's conclusion. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-10 • 3 minutes
1012. God = Nature = Fate = Cause & Effect
If you were to call God Fate, you would not lie; for since fate is nothing more than a connected chain of causes, he is the first cause of all upon which all the rest depend. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-09 • 3 minutes
1011. Two criticisms of Seneca
Seneca, though he acknowledges that women are perfectly capable of virtue, characterizes Epicureans as "effeminate." And in today's passage he comes across as far more critical of Epicurus than he is usually regarded to be. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-08 • 3 minutes
1010. The difference between a mere parent and a good parent
It is not a good thing to live, but to live well. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-07 • 3 minutes
1009. On slavery
Whereby Seneca displays a bit too casual of an attitude toward slavery, a particular instance of a broader problem for Stoicism when it comes to social and political issues. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Mar-04 • 2 minutes
1008. No deadline for gratefulness
No day is appointed for repayment of a benefit, as there is for borrowed money; consequently he who has not yet repaid a benefit may do so hereafter: for tell me, pray, within what time a person is to be declared ungrateful? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-28 • 3 minutes
1007. Virtue and the law
Seneca explains why it makes no sense to pass laws to enforce virtuous behavior, such as some modern laws against marital infidelity. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-25 • 2 minutes
1006. Contentedness vs ambition
Being always intent upon new objects of desire, we think, not of what we have, but of what we are striving to obtain. Those whose mind is fixed entirely upon what they hope to gain, regard with contempt all that is their own already. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-24 • 3 minutes
1005. Should we complain to the gods?
They call the gods neglectful of us because we have not been given health which even our vices cannot destroy. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-23 • 3 minutes
1004. The sources of ingratitude
Ingratitude is caused by excessive self-esteem, by that fault innate in all mortals, of taking a partial view of ourselves and our own acts, by greed, or by jealousy. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-22 • 3 minutes
1003. When we should decline a benefit to help a friend
Someone may be a worthy person for me to receive a benefit from, but it will hurt them to give it. For this reason I will not receive it, because they are ready to help me to their own prejudice, or even danger. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-21 • 3 minutes
1002. Benefits should be freely received
No one incurs any obligation by receiving what it was not in his power to refuse; if you want to know whether I wish to take it, arrange matters so that I have the power of saying ‘No.’ | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-18 • 3 minutes
1001. Sometimes the right thing to do is to say no
As we refuse cold water to the sick, or swords to the grief-stricken or remorseful, so must we persist in refusing to give anything whatever that is hurtful, although our friends earnestly and humbly beg for it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-17 • 2 minutes
1000. Be an anonymous benefactor
You should be satisfied with the approval of your own conscience; if not, you do not really delight in doing good, but in being seen to do good. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-16 • 3 minutes
999. Don't let generosity degenerate into extravagance
Since no impulse of the human mind can be approved of, even though it springs from a right feeling, unless it be made into a virtue by discretion, I forbid generosity to degenerate into extravagance. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-15 • 3 minutes
998. A hierarchy of needs and benefits
The next point to be defined is, what kind of benefits are to be given, and in what manner. First let us give what is necessary, next what is useful, and then what is pleasant, provided that they be lasting. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-14 • 3 minutes
997. Do we make moral progress?
Our ancestors before us have lamented, and our children after us will lament, as we do, the ruin of morality, the prevalence of vice, and the gradual deterioration of mankind; yet these things are really stationary. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-11 • 3 minutes
996. Why are you doing what you are doing?
Seneca reminds us that virtue ethics is about motivations and the improvement of one's character, not just about material help, as much as the latter may be needed. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-10 • 2 minutes
995. It is the thought that counts
What value has the crown in itself? or the purple-bordered robe? or the judgment-seat and car of triumph? None of these things is in itself an honour, but is an emblem of honour. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-09 • 2 minutes
994. The many forms of benefits
Do not grow weary, perform your duty, and act as becomes a good person. Help one with money, another with credit, another with your favor; this one with good advice, that one with sound maxims. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-08 • 3 minutes
993. The book-keeping of benefits is simple
The book-keeping of benefits is simple: it is all expenditure; if any one returns it, that is clear gain; if he does not return it, it is not lost, I gave it for the sake of giving. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-07 • 2 minutes
992. Good deeds, or their fruits?
It is the property of a great and good mind to covet, not the fruit of good deeds, but good deeds themselves. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-04 • 2 minutes
991. The right attitude for gift giving
Let us bestow benefits, not put them out at interest. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-03 • 3 minutes
990. The importance of benefits
Among the numerous faults of those who pass their lives recklessly and without due reflexion, I should say that there is hardly any one so hurtful to society as this, that we neither know how to bestow or how to receive a benefit. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-02 • 3 minutes
989. The story of Marcus Atilius Regulus
Marcus Atilius Regulus in his second consulship was taken prisoner in Africa by the stratagem of Xanthippus, a Spartan general serving under the command of Hannibal’s father Hamilcar. … | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Feb-01 • 3 minutes
988. Apply the rule! What follows?
Pray, tell me, does it coincide with the character of your good person to lie for their own profit, to slander, to overreach, to deceive? Nay, verily; anything but that! | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jan-31 • 3 minutes
987. Let's hear it from Chrysippus
“When a man enters the foot-race,” says Chrysippus with his usual aptness, “it is his duty to put forth all his strength and strive with all his might to win; but he ought never with his foot to trip, or with his hand to foul a competitor.” | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jan-28 • 3 minutes
986. What are we born for?
Cicero presents the Stoic argument that we are born to be virtuous, meaning prosocial. The Epicureans thought we are born to seek pleasure and avoid pain. They both had a point. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jan-27 • 3 minutes
985. The axioms of your ethics
Cicero explains that ethical reasoning is akin to mathematics: it begins with certain axioms that are taken for granted. Which axioms does your ethical thinking assume to be true? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jan-26 • 3 minutes
984. How to treat so-called foreigners
Those who say that regard should be had for the rights of fellow-citizens, but not of foreigners, would destroy the universal brotherhood of mankind. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jan-25 • 3 minutes
983. Justice is instrumental to good living
Injustice is fatal to social life and fellowship between people. For, if we are so disposed that each, to gain some personal profit, will defraud or injure his neighbor, then the bonds of human society must of necessity be broken. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jan-24 • 3 minutes
982. Tyrannicide and friendship
If your friend were a tyrant, would you kill him? That is the situation that Brutus faced with respect to Caesar, and which Cicero analyzes in this episode. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jan-21 • 3 minutes
981. Socratic vs ataraxic schools
There were, broadly speaking, two major clusters of Hellenistic philosophies: the Socratic ones and, for lack of a better term, the ataraxic ones. Let's take a look at the differences. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jan-20 • 3 minutes
980. The conflict between virtue and benefits
Whether moral goodness is the only good, as the Stoics believe, or whether, as the Peripatetics think, it is the highest of many goods, it is beyond question that expediency can never conflict with moral rectitude. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jan-19 • 3 minutes
979. Self-seeking politicians
But the chief thing in all public administration and public service is to avoid even the slightest suspicion of self-seeking. For to exploit the state for selfish profit is not only immoral; it is criminal, infamous. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jan-18 • 3 minutes
978. We must apologize for our offenses
We must apologize also, to the best of our ability, if we have involuntarily hurt anyone’s feelings, and we must by future services and kind offices atone for the apparent offense. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jan-17 • 3 minutes
977. The duty to help the poor
Relieving the poor is a form of charity that is a service to the state as well as to the individual. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jan-13 • 3 minutes
976. Political theory, not just virtue
The reason for making constitutional laws was the same as that for making kings. For what people have always sought is equality of rights before the law. For rights that were not open to all alike would be no rights. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jan-12 • 3 minutes
975. Virtue and human society
Think of the aqueducts, canals, irrigation works, breakwaters, artificial harbors; how should we have these without the work of people? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jan-11 • 3 minutes
974. The morally right vs the expedient
It is nowadays accepted that a thing may be morally right without being expedient, and expedient without being morally right. No more pernicious doctrine than this could be introduced into human life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jan-10 • 3 minutes
973. Dogmatists vs Skeptics
As other schools maintain that some things are certain, others uncertain, we, differing with them, say that some things are probable, others improbable. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jan-05 • 3 minutes
972. Philosophy, the most useful pursuit
And if someone lives who would belittle the study of philosophy, I quite fail to see what in the world they would see fit to praise. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2022-Jan-03 • 3 minutes
971. If you can't do politics, do philosophy
And since my mind could not be wholly idle, I thought that the most honourable way for me to forget my sorrows would be by turning to philosophy. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Dec-28 • 3 minutes
970. Practical duties
If wisdom is the most important of the virtues, as it certainly is, it necessarily follows that that duty which is connected with the social obligation is the most important duty. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Dec-24 • 2 minutes
969. The virtue of temperance
Moderation is the science of doing the right thing at the right time. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Dec-22 • 3 minutes
968. Making important decisions early in life
We are called to make important decisions about our life and career when we are young and immature. That's why engaging in critical philosophical reflection as soon as possible is crucial for our happiness. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Dec-20 • 3 minutes
967. Four aspects of our character
Cicero relates that the Stoic Panaetius thought there are four fundamental aspects to our character, and that they shape our roles in society. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Dec-16 • 3 minutes
966. What about sports and play?
Here is how to balance the serious and the playful components of your life, what psychologists call the eudaimonic and hedonic aspects of existence. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Dec-15 • 3 minutes
965. The harmony of character and behavior
Cicero tells us that there is a harmonious beauty in the relationship between one's virtuous character and that person's actions. The relationship being analogous to that between physical beauty and health. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Dec-14 • 2 minutes
964. Justice and anger are incompatible
In administering punishment it is above all necessary to allow no trace of anger. It is to be desired that they who administer the government should be like the laws, which are led to inflict punishment not by wrath but by justice. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Dec-13 • 3 minutes
963. The two rules of good government
First, keep the good of the people so clearly in view that regardless of your own interests you will make your every action conform to that; second, care for the welfare of the whole body politic and do not let the interests of one party betray the rest. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Dec-10 • 3 minutes
962. On running for political office
Those whom Nature has endowed with the capacity for administering public affairs should put aside all hesitation, enter the race for public office and take a hand in directing the government. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Dec-09 • 3 minutes
961. On money
There is nothing more honourable and noble than to be indifferent to money, if one does not possess it, and to devote it to beneficence and liberality, if one does possess it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Dec-08 • 2 minutes
960. The right kind of courage
The Stoics, therefore, correctly define courage as "that virtue which champions the cause of right." For nothing that lacks justice can be morally right. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Dec-07 • 3 minutes
959. The art of a duty calculator
Eric Weiner, the author of The Socrates Express, put it nicely: “Duty [is] not obligation. There is a difference. Duty comes from inside, obligation from outside.” | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Dec-06 • 3 minutes
958. The most powerful fellowship
Of all the bonds of fellowship, there is none more noble, none more powerful than when good people of congenial character are joined in intimate friendship. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Dec-03 • 3 minutes
957. Is your act truly a kind one?
Cicero reminds us that in virtue ethics intentions are fundamental. If you do an act of kindness in order to receive a favor, then you have done no kindness at all. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Dec-02 • 3 minutes
956. How to do acts of kindness
Cicero argues that we ought to consider what is the best way for us to engage in acts of kindness. And that the fundamental criterion by which to judge their soundness is justice. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Dec-01 • 3 minutes
955. Don’t be a traitor to social life
There are some also who claim that they are occupied solely with their own affairs. They are traitors to social life, for they contribute to it none of their interest, none of their effort, none of their means. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Nov-30 • 2 minutes
954. A cautious defense of private property
I do not mean to find fault with the accumulation of property, provided it hurts nobody, but unjust acquisition of it is always to be avoided. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Nov-29 • 3 minutes
953. How to become more human
We ought to follow Nature as our guide, to contribute to the general good by an interchange of acts of kindness, by giving and receiving, and thus by our skill, our industry, and our talents to cement human society more closely together. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Nov-23 • 3 minutes
952. Two common errors
If we truly want to become better human beings, Cicero counsels, we should avoid two common mistakes. Let's take a look at what they are, and reflect on whether we ourselves have sometimes committed them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Nov-22 • 3 minutes
951. The four sources of morality
Cicero argues that there are four fundamental concerns of morality: truth; the organization of society (including our duties toward others); the development of our character; and doing everything while exercising temperance. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Nov-19 • 3 minutes
950. Living according to reason
Nature by the power of reason associates man with man in the common bonds of speech and life; she also prompts men to meet in companies, to form public assemblies, and to take part in them themselves. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Nov-18 • 3 minutes
949. Three types of moral question
Consider if what you are doing is: (i) morally right; (ii) conducive to your happiness; and (iii) whether you may be rationalizing doing something wrong simply because it brings you comfort. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Nov-17 • 3 minutes
948. Practice must accompany theory
Every treatise on duty has two parts: one, dealing with the doctrine of the supreme good; the other with the practical rules by which daily life in all its bearings may be regulated. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Nov-16 • 3 minutes
947. Virtue vs pleasure
Brave he surely cannot possibly be that counts pain the supreme evil, nor temperate he that holds pleasure to be the supreme good. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Nov-15 • 3 minutes
946. The importance of moral duties
On the discharge of our duties depends all that is morally right, and on their neglect all that is morally wrong in life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Nov-11 • 3 minutes
945. Let your character be brave, not harsh
I know that there are some, whose wisdom is of a harsh rather than a brave character, who say that the sage never would mourn. They have never  been in the position of mourners,  otherwise their misfortune would have shaken their haughty philosophy out of them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Nov-10 • 2 minutes
944. Write about your loved ones
Prolong the remembrance of your brother by inserting some memoir of him among your other writings: for that is the only sort of monument that can be erected by man which no storm can injure, no time destroy. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Nov-09 • 3 minutes
943. Loss as a universal equalizer
For it is not human not to feel our sorrows, while it is unvirtuous not to bear them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Nov-08 • 3 minutes
942. The universe is not after you, personally
Fortune has not chosen you as the only person in the world to receive so severe a blow: there is no house in all the earth, and never has been one, that has not something to mourn for. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Nov-05 • 3 minutes
941. Redirect your thoughts
Turn yourself away from these thoughts which torment you, and look rather at those numerous and powerful sources of consolation which you possess: look at your excellent brothers, look at your wife and your son. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Nov-04 • 3 minutes
940. No such a thing as a premature death
"But," you say, "he was taken away unexpectedly." Every man is deceived by his own willingness to believe what he wishes, and he chooses to forget that those whom he loves are mortal. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Nov-03 • 3 minutes
939. On loan from the universe
You need not think for how much longer you might have had him, but for how long you did have him. Nature gave him to you, as she gives others to other brothers, not as an absolute property, but as a loan. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Nov-02 • 3 minutes
938. The dead do not suffer
If the dead retain no feeling whatever, my brother has escaped from all the troubles of life. What madness then for me never to cease grieving for one who will never grieve again? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Nov-01 • 3 minutes
937. Literature will save your soul
At such times let literature repay to you the debt which your long and faithful love has laid upon it, let it claim you for its high priest and worshipper: at such times let Homer and Virgil be much in your company. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-28 • 3 minutes
936. What would your loved one who passed away wish for you?
If your brother wishes you to be tortured with endless mourning, he does not deserve such affection; if he does not wish it, dismiss the grief which affects you both. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-27 • 3 minutes
935. Do not let grief fester
I would force some drops to flow from these eyes, exhausted as they are with weeping over my own domestic afflictions, were it likely to be of any service to you. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-26 • 3 minutes
934. The wish for immortality is the height of selfishness
Who can be so haughtily and peevishly arrogant as to expect that this law of nature by which every thing is brought to an end will be set aside in his own case, and that his own house will be exempted from the ruin which menaces the whole world itself? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-25 • 2 minutes
933. On universal impermanence
What, indeed, have mortal hands made that is not mortal? The seven wonders of the world, and any even greater wonders which the ambition of later ages has constructed, will be seen some day leveled with the ground. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-22 • 3 minutes
932. The dangers of superstition
Speaking frankly, superstition, which is widespread among the nations, has taken advantage of human weakness to cast its spell over the mind of almost every man. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-21 • 3 minutes
931. Methodological naturalism
Which is more consonant with philosophy: to explain these apparitions by the superstitious theories of fortune-telling hags, or by an explanation based on natural causes? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-20 • 3 minutes
930. Never underestimate the power of chance
We sleep every night and there is scarcely ever a night when we do not dream; then do we wonder that our dreams come true sometimes? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-19 • 2 minutes
929. On the vagueness of prophecy
It was clever in the author to take care that whatever happened should appear foretold because all reference to persons or time had been omitted. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-18 • 3 minutes
928. Heredity, not stars and planets
Surely, no one fails to see that the appearance and habits, and generally, the carriage and gestures of children are derived from their parents, not by the phases of the moon and by the condition of the sky. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-15 • 3 minutes
927. On astrology
Is it not evident that these astrologers, these would-be interpreters of the sky are of a class who are utterly ignorant of the nature of the sky? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-14 • 3 minutes
926. The nature of philosophy
Myths would have no place in philosophy. It would have been more in keeping with your role as a philosopher to consider, first, the nature of divination generally, second, its origin, and third, its consistency. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-13 • 3 minutes
925. On cherry picking
‘Flaminius,’ you say, ‘did not obey the auspices, therefore he perished with his army.’ But a year later Paulus did obey them; and did he not lose his army and his life in the battle of Cannae? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-12 • 3 minutes
924. Two common explanations of “extraordinary” events
The incidents may have been fictitious; if not, then the fulfillment of the prophecy may have been accidental. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-11 • 3 minutes
923. On epistemic humility
Explore the cause, if you can, of every strange thing that excites your astonishment. If you do not find the cause be assured, nevertheless, that nothing could have happened without a cause. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-08 • 3 minutes
922. Ordinary explanations for extraordinary events
In periods of fear and of danger, stories of portents are not only more readily believed, but they are invented with greater impunity. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-07 • 3 minutes
921. The scientific turn in understanding the world
In the case of things that happen now by chance, now in the usual course of nature, it is the height of folly to hold the gods as the direct agents and not to inquire into the causes of such things. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-06 • 3 minutes
920. Follow Hannibal, not a piece of ox-meat
While Hannibal was in exile at the court of King Prusias he advised the king to go to war, but the king replied, ‘I do not dare, because the entrails forbid.’ ‘And do you,’ said Hannibal, ‘put more reliance in a piece of ox-meat than you do in a veteran commander?’ | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-05 • 3 minutes
919. Sometimes coincidences as just that
You say, ‘Jupiter’s statue was being set up at the very time the conspiracy was being exposed.’ You, of course, prefer to attribute this coincidence to a divine decree rather than to chance. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-04 • 3 minutes
918. Philosophy vs pseudoscience
Upon my word you Stoics surrender the very city of philosophy while defending its outworks! For, by your insistence on the truth of soothsaying, you utterly overthrow physiology. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Oct-01 • 3 minutes
917. The proper place of sarcasm
Don’t you think, rather, that the bull lost his heart when he saw that Caesar, in his purple robe, had lost his head? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Sep-30 • 3 minutes
916. How, exactly, do you know that?
How did the soothsayers manage to agree among themselves what part of the entrails was unfavourable, and what part favourable; or what cleft in the liver indicated danger and what promised some advantage? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Sep-29 • 3 minutes
915. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence
You ought to have employed arguments and reason to show that all your propositions were true and you ought not to have resorted to so-called occurrences — certainly not to such occurrences as are unworthy of belief. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Sep-28 • 3 minutes
914. Trust science, not mysticism
Science, argues Cicero, makes reliable predictions of events based on the laws of nature. No such reliability is possible for mysticisms like divination. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Sep-27 • 3 minutes
913. When the problem is real, you don't go to a soothsayer
Cicero says that nobody actually takes soothsayers seriously, because when we want to actually accomplish something, we go to an expert in that domain, like a doctor, and not a to a seer or a prophet. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Sep-24 • 3 minutes
912. The proper attitude of a Skeptic
Cicero is gearing up to respond to his brother's defense of the Stoic notion of divination. He will do so, however, while putting forth probable arguments, not declarations of certainty. As a good critical thinker ought to do. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Sep-23 • 3 minutes
911. Why write about philosophy
Cicero explains the main reason he writes philosophy: to be helpful to other people. But we also know he was helping himself to overcome the grief he felt at the death of his beloved daughter Tullia. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Sep-22 • 3 minutes
910. The Stoics and Laplace's demon
Quintus, Cicero's brother, makes one last - and pretty good - argument in favor of divination, an argument that anticipated a famous idea by the astronomer Pierre-Simon de Laplace. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Sep-01 • 3 minutes
909. The world is regulated by cause and effect
Nothing has happened which was not bound to happen, and, likewise, nothing is going to happen which will not find in nature every efficient cause of its happening. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Aug-31 • 3 minutes
908. Socrates' daimon
Quintus, Cicero's brother, mentions Socrates' famous daimon as evidence of divine influence. But it is more likely that Socrates himself simply meant the concept as a way to represent his conscience. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Aug-30 • 3 minutes
907. Two problems with Stoicism
Cicero makes reference to two problems, as we moderns may see them, with Stoic philosophy: the notion of an intelligence permeating the universe, and the idea that the body is a drag on the mind. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Aug-27 • 3 minutes
906. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence
Quintus, Cicero's brother, relies on other people's testimony to establish the reality of divination. But as his brother, David Hume, and Carl Sagan observed, that sort of evidence is insufficient to establish his extraordinary claim. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Aug-26 • 3 minutes
905. Epicurus was right after all!
Quintus, Cicero's brother, delivers yet another fallacious argument in defense of divination, one that implies that Epicurus got at least one thing right, despite how much Cicero obviously didn't like him or his philosophy. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Aug-25 • 3 minutes
904. The argument from celebrity
Quintus, Cicero's brother, puts forth yet another bad argument in favor of divination, one that unfortunately is still used by many today: if celebrity so-and-so says X, then X must be true... | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Aug-24 • 3 minutes
903. One problem with Stoic epistemology
Cicero's brother, Quintus, uses a qualitative argument in defense of the notion of divination. The argument appears valid, but it is flawed because of the lack of quantification, which - to be fair - was invented only many centuries later. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Aug-23 • 3 minutes
902. The Venus throw
Cicero's brother, Quintus, invokes an analogy between a dice game and the structure of the universe to deploy what we today recognize as an argument from intelligent design. Which doesn't work. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Aug-20 • 3 minutes
901. Good and bad reasons to reject a claim
Cicero rejects the notion of divination on the grounds that there is no mechanism to explain it. He was wrong on the general epistemological principle, though right in the specific case. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Aug-19 • 3 minutes
900. Stoic disagreements
Cicero tells us that some Stoics disagreed with the majority opinion within the Stoa on the topic of divination. Indeed, there were multiple opinions on various subjects. Stoicism was never a rigid school of thought. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Aug-18 • 3 minutes
899. Shall we accept the opinion of the many?
Cicero's brother, Quintus, presents one Stoic argument in favor of divination: everyone knows it's true. This is an obvious logical fallacy. And yet, there are cases when it is justified to believe a majority opinion. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Aug-17 • 3 minutes
898. The best days of our lives
These days are my best, because my mind is at leisure to attend to its own affairs, and at one time amuses itself with lighter studies, at another eagerly presses its inquiries into its own nature and that of the universe. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Aug-16 • 3 minutes
897. The proper attitude toward grief
The best middle course between affection and hard common sense is both to feel regret and to restrain it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Aug-13 • 3 minutes
896. Use virtuous reason as your shield
If you regard the end of your days not as a punishment, but as an ordinance of nature, no fear of anything else will dare to enter the breast which has cast out the fear of death. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Aug-12 • 2 minutes
895. On over-consumption
Why do you amass fortune after fortune? Are you unwilling to remember how small our bodies are? Is it not frenzy and the wildest insanity to wish for so much when you can contain so little? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Aug-05 • 3 minutes
894. On gourmet food
How unhappy are they whose appetite can only be aroused by costly food! And the costliness of food depends not upon its delightful flavor and sweetness of taste, but upon its rarity and the difficulty of procuring it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Aug-04 • 3 minutes
893. Two precious things we always carry with us
Whithersoever we betake ourselves two most excellent things will accompany us, namely, a common Nature and our own special virtue. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Aug-03 • 2 minutes
892. Don't get cocky with Fortune
No one loses anything by the frowns of Fortune unless they have been deceived by her smiles. The one who has not been puffed up by success, does not collapse after failure. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Aug-02 • 2 minutes
891. Look out for Fortune's blows
Always stand as it were on guard, and mark the attacks and charges of Fortune long before she delivers them; she is only terrible to those whom she catches unawares. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-30 • 3 minutes
890. Happiness regardless of circumstances
External circumstances have very little importance either for good or for evil: wise persons are neither elated by prosperity nor depressed by adversity. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-29 • 3 minutes
889. What really makes us wiser
You have gained nothing by so many misfortunes, if you have not learned how to suffer. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-28 • 3 minutes
888. On the last path to freedom
Cicero reminds us that - when life is truly unbearable and we can no longer act virtuously - we have one last escape route, the guarantor of our ultimate freedom: death itself. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-27 • 3 minutes
887. What to do if you are deaf
We are all truly deaf with regard to those innumerable languages which we do not understand. Then, as I before referred the blind to the pleasures of hearing, so I may the deaf to the pleasures of sight. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-26 • 3 minutes
886. Focus on what you can do, not on what you can't
The reply of Antipater the Cyrenaic to some women who bewailed his being blind, though it is a little too obscene, is not without its significance. “What do you mean?,” said he, “do you think the night can furnish no pleasure?” | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-23 • 3 minutes
885. On exile and cosmopolitanism
Cicero explains why being sent out of one's country is not a hardship worth worrying about, and tells us that Socrates regarded the whole world as his country. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-22 • 3 minutes
884. The time Plato almost lost his life
Cicero tells us about a letter written by Plato during his stint in Syracuse, explaining why temperance is the most fundamental of the four cardinal virtues. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-21 • 3 minutes
883. On walking before dinner
They relate, too, of Socrates, that, once when he was walking very fast till the evening, on his being asked why he did so, his reply was that he was purchasing an appetite by walking, that he might sup the better. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-20 • 3 minutes
882. Socrates the non-consumerist
Socrates, when on one occasion he saw a great quantity of gold and silver carried in a procession, cried out, “How many things are there which I do not want!” | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-19 • 3 minutes
881. Three kinds of goods
There are three kinds of goods: the greatest being those of the mind; the next best those of the body; the third are external goods, as the Peripatetics call them, and the Old Academics differ very little from them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-16 • 3 minutes
880. Many schools, many takes
Cicero gives us a rundown of the major Hellenistic schools, which differed in the way they understood eudaimonia, the life worth living. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-15 • 3 minutes
879. The philosophical problem with pain
Shall virtue, then, yield to pain? Shall the happy life of a wise person succumb to it? Good Gods! How base would this be! Spartan boys will bear to have their bodies torn by rods without uttering a groan. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-14 • 3 minutes
878. Damocles' sword and the nature of happiness
Cicero tells the famous story of Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse, and one of his flatterers, Damocles, who learns the hard way that what may look like a happy life is actually nothing of the sort. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-13 • 3 minutes
877. An argument in favor of virtue as guarantor of a happy life
Cicero makes one of a number of arguments for why virtue is the only guarantor of a happy life. Let's examine the validity of the argument's structure and the soundness of its premises. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-12 • 3 minutes
876. How to evaluate philosophical systems
We are not, therefore, to form our judgment of philosophers from detached sentences, but from their consistency with themselves, and their ordinary manner of talking. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-09 • 4 minutes
875. Why virtue is necessary and sufficient for happiness
Cicero makes a strong argument, based on Socratic and Stoic positions, for why virtue is necessary and sufficient for "happiness," if we translate the Greek word eudaimonia as "the life worth living." | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-08 • 3 minutes
874. The importance of Socrates
Socrates was the first who brought down philosophy from the heavens, placed it in cities, introduced it into families, and obliged it to examine into life and morals, and good and evil. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-07 • 4 minutes
873. The first philosopher
Cicero tells us that Pythagoras was the first to use the word philosopher and to explain what philosophy consists of. The Stoics will partially agree with Pythagoras' definition, but the disagreement is crucial. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-06 • 3 minutes
872. Do not catastrophize
We, who increase every approaching evil by our fear, and every present one by our grief, choose rather to condemn the nature of things than our own errors. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-05 • 4 minutes
871. Is virtue sufficient for a happy life?
If virtue were but the slave of fortune, I am afraid that it would seem desirable rather to offer up prayers, than to rely on our own confidence in virtue as the foundation for our hope of a happy life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-02 • 3 minutes
870. If anger is natural, what's wrong with it?
Where, then, are they who say that anger has its use? Can madness be of any use? But still it is natural. Can anything be natural that is against reason? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jul-01 • 3 minutes
869. Redirect your mind toward useful things
Whenever we catch ourselves being too focused on trivial or unimportant things, we can willfully redirect our attention on the sort of activities that are truly good for us and for other people. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jun-30 • 2 minutes
868. The meaning of true love
The Stoics, in truth, say, not only that their wise person may be a lover, but they even define love itself as an endeavor to originate friendship out of the appearance of beauty. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jun-29 • 3 minutes
867. Your (mature) emotional response is up to you
One thing alone seems to embrace the question of all that relates to the perturbations of the mind—the fact, namely, that all perturbations are in our own power; that they are taken up upon opinion, and are voluntary. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jun-28 • 3 minutes
866. Think about how others endure adversity
Cicero advocates a standard Stoic technique: when facing adversity, remind yourself that many others have experienced something similar and have endured it. So can you. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-31 • 3 minutes
865. Philosophy is the cure
Certainly the most effectual cure is to be achieved by showing that all perturbations are of themselves vicious, and have nothing natural or necessary in them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-28 • 3 minutes
864. The problem with grief
We should not take sorrows on ourselves upon another’s account; but we ought to relieve others of their grief if we can. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-27 • 3 minutes
863. Anger is good only when it's fake
Anger is in no wise becoming in an orator, though it is not amiss to affect it. Do you imagine that I am angry when in pleading I use any extraordinary vehemence and sharpness? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-26 • 3 minutes
862. Virtue is a kind of knowledge
What is Chrysippus’s definition? Fortitude, says he, is the knowledge of all things that are bearable, or an affection of the mind which bears and supports everything in obedience to the chief law of reason without fear. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-25 • 3 minutes
861. Courage does not require anger
Take care how you make courage to depend in the least on rage. For anger is altogether irrational, and that is not courage which is void of reason. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-24 • 3 minutes
860. Why Aristotle was wrong about moderating vice
For whoever prescribes bounds to vice admits a part of it, which, as it is odious of itself, becomes the more so as it stands on slippery ground, and, being once set forward, glides on headlong, and cannot by any means be stopped. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-21 • 3 minutes
859. Virtue is right reason
There is an important distinction to be made between instrumental reason, which is morally neutral, and what the Stoics call "right" reason, or virtue, which comes with a built-in moral prescription. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-20 • 3 minutes
858. Disharmony of the mind
Cicero says that our mind becomes sick when our opinions and judgments are not coherent with each other, just like our body becomes sick when one of its parts is in disharmony with the rest. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-19 • 3 minutes
857. Apply the Socratic remedy
Money, fame, and sexual pleasure are not problematic per se. They may be preferred or dispreferred, so long as they don’t control us and lead us away from a virtuous life. Own your desires and pleasures, do not be own by them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-18 • 3 minutes
856. The importance of temperance
Intemperance, which is in opposition to reason, inflames, confounds, and puts every state of the mind into a violent motion. Thus, grief and fear, and every other perturbation of the mind, have their rise from intemperance. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-17 • 3 minutes
855. Envy, malevolence, and delight
Cicero continues his classification of the emotions as seen by the Stoics. Envy, for instance, is a type of grief generated by the mistaken belief that the prosperity of another is an injury to ourselves. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-14 • 3 minutes
854. Challenging your incorrect emotions
Cicero gives a nice rundown of the Stoic theory of emotions, which holds up well according to modern cognitive science. Emotions have cognitive components, so we can challenge them when they are not good for us. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-13 • 3 minutes
853. The nature of fear
If our concerns are in agreement with reason, they are healthy; but fear is not in agreement with reason, and it is therefore unhealthy. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-12 • 3 minutes
852. The nature of volition
Where this strong desire is consistent and founded on prudence, it is by the Stoics called volition. And this they define it thus: volition is a reasonable desire. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-10 • 3 minutes
851. Perturbations of the mind
Zeno’s definition, then, is this: “A perturbation” (which he calls “pathos”) “is a commotion of the mind repugnant to reason, and against nature.” | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-07 • 3 minutes
850. What is apatheia?
The sage will achieve a state of apatheia, meaning lack of disturbance from unhealthy emotions like fear, anger, and hatred. But she will also experience healthy emotions, like love, joy, and a sense of justice. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-06 • 4 minutes
849. Five philosophical takes on grief
Cicero very clearly and succinctly explains the difference among five Hellenistic takes on grief, including two Stoic ones, one by Cleanthes (the second head of the Stoa) and one by Chrysippus (the third head). | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-05 • 3 minutes
848. Grief is an opinion
Grief arises from an opinion of some present evil, which includes this belief, that it is incumbent on us to grieve. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-04 • 3 minutes
847. Philosophical contradictions
Most people appear to be unaware what contradictions these things are full of. They commend those who die calmly, but they blame those who can bear the loss of another with the same calmness. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-May-03 • 3 minutes
846. Willing grief away
Cicero gives an example of people suddenly setting grief aside because they are absorbed in an urgent task. He infers that, therefore, grief is a matter of opinion, not of nature. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-30 • 3 minutes
845. Facts vs judgments
You see, the evil is in opinion, not in nature. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-29 • 3 minutes
844. Comfort by comparison
[We can point] out that nothing has happened but what is common to human nature; [which] does not only inform us what human nature is, but implies that all things are tolerable which others have borne and are bearing. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-28 • 4 minutes
843. Cicero vs the Epicureans, part II
Cicero presents three major objections to Epicureanism, which he argues is a fundamentally incoherent philosophy. See if you agree with his analysis. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-27 • 2 minutes
842. Cicero vs the Epicureans
I should agree with Epicurus that we ought to be called off from grief to contemplate good things, if we could only agree upon what was good. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-26 • 3 minutes
841. Music or Socrates?
Cicero says that if one is distraught she should read Socrates rather than listen to music. I disagree. Music may be soothing in the long run. Socrates is the long term cure. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-23 • 3 minutes
840. Should we contemplate future adversity?
There are two ways to think about potential future setbacks: emotionally, and rationally. The first approach only causes perpetual distress. The second one prepares our mind to deal with what may be coming. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-22 • 3 minutes
839. Being prepared for anything
Cicero tells us that Anaxagoras, the Presocratic philosopher, was ready to accept the death of his son, because he had always known he was a mortal. This isn't lack of care, it's mental preparedness. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-21 • 3 minutes
838. Why and how to overcome grief
Grief, Cicero tells us, is a highly destructive emotion. While we shouldn't go around telling others not to grieve, we ourselves should take care to react differently to the loss of a loved one. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-20 • 3 minutes
837. The four fundamental disturbances of the mind
Cicero gives us a classification of disturbances of the mind: when we think that something is good (now or in the future) but it actually isn't. And when we think that something is bad (now or in the future) but it actually isn't. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-19 • 3 minutes
836. Pity vs envy
Cicero makes an argument that the ideal Stoic, the sage, should feel neither envy nor pity. He was spectacularly wrong, and directly contradicted by Marcus Aurelius. Let's see why. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-16 • 3 minutes
835. The absurdity of envy
The word envy comes from Latin for "looking too closely into other people's fortune." Let us see why this is most definitely not a thing that a Stoic should indulge in. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-15 • 3 minutes
834. Is grief a form of cowardice?
Cicero presents an argument according to which grief is the result of lack of courage. As a modern Stoic, I beg to differ. Overcoming grief requires courage, but the feeling itself is natural and inevitable. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-14 • 3 minutes
833. Lust and anger
They who are run away with by their lust or anger have quitted the command over themselves. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-13 • 3 minutes
832. Everyone but the sage is mad
Cicero explains the Stoic "paradox" that everyone but the sage is mad. In the sense of not being reasonable. The good news is that we can work on being less mad, every day. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-12 • 3 minutes
831. Diseases of the mind
There are more disorders of the mind than of the body, and they are of a more dangerous nature. And what disorders can be worse to the body than these two distempers of the mind, weakness and desire? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-09 • 3 minutes
830. On fame
Popular fame is hasty and inconsiderate, and generally commends wicked and immoral actions, and throws discredit upon the appearance and beauty of honesty by assuming a resemblance of it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-08 • 3 minutes
829. Natural virtue?
The Stoics put forth the notion that we are naturally virtuous (i.e., prosocial), and that it is society that leads us astray. Modern science confirms their intuition only in part. The fact remains, though, that the choice is ours. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-07 • 3 minutes
828. Who we really are
What reason shall I assign, O Brutus, why, as we consist of mind and body, the art of curing the body should be so much sought after, but the medicine of the mind should not have been so much the object of inquiry? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-06 • 3 minutes
827. The power of acting right
If you are satisfied with yourself when you have approved of what is right, you will not only have the mastery over yourself (which I recommended to you just now), but over everybody, and everything. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-05 • 3 minutes
826. Posidonius talks about pain
Posidonius was once afflicted by severe pain, and yet invited Pompey to discuss philosophy. He said: “Pain, it is to no purpose; notwithstanding you are troublesome, I will never acknowledge you an evil.” | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-02 • 3 minutes
825. Dionysius the Renegade
Cicero tells the story of how Dionysius quit Stoicism because he was experiencing chronic pain, and how Cleanthes, the second head of the Stoa, chastised him for not understanding the Stoic take on the issue. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Apr-01 • 3 minutes
824. Epaminondas, one of the most excellent men who ever lived
Cicero refers to the story of the Theban general Epaminondas, who sacrificed his life to free his people from the Spartan yoke. If he was capable of that, surely we can withstand the pains and setbacks of ordinary life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-31 • 2 minutes
823. When Zeno bit the tyrant
Cicero tells the story of Zeno of Elea, a philosopher who withstood torture and faced death in order to overthrow tyranny. Remember that, the next time you complain about a toothache... | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-30 • 2 minutes
822. Pain and mental attitude
While physical pain may be inevitable, our mental attitude makes a significant difference — for better or worse, depending on how we choose to see things. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-29 • 3 minutes
821. Better to be a sick person with integrity than a healthy lier
Health has value, and is therefore preferred in the Stoic system. However, it is not an intrinsic good, and if in order to stay healthy you have to cheat others, you should accept the chances that you might get sick. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-26 • 2 minutes
820. How to learn to bear pain
Cicero suggests that getting used to one kind of discomfort or pain will allow us to more easily bear another kind. This is the basis for some modern Stoic exercises, like taking a cold shower. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-25 • 3 minutes
819. The crucial importance of patience
I do not deny pain to be pain—for were that the case, in what would courage consist?—but I say it should be assuaged by patience, if there be such a thing as patience: if not, why do we speak so in praise of philosophy? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-24 • 3 minutes
818. Courage vs pain
For the Epicureans virtue is instrumental in achieving ataraxia, a life of tranquillity. For the Stoics ataraxia is a byproduct, a result of the fact that the virtuous person can take on any challenge in life with a serene mind. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-23 • 3 minutes
817. Should we ban the poets?
Poetry and fiction tug at our emotions. They are pleasant and powerful, but they may also be manipulative. While Plato's solution to ban poets is not a good idea, we should keep our critical sense on guard so not to be manipulated. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-22 • 3 minutes
816. On bearing pain
I cannot allow the wise person to be so indifferent about pain. If they bear it with courage, it is sufficient. For pain is, beyond all question, sharp, bitter, against nature, hard to submit to and to bear. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-19 • 3 minutes
815. Pleasure, pain, virtue
Cicero on Epicureanism: "What disgrace, what ignominy, would he not submit to that he might avoid pain, when persuaded that it was the greatest of evils?" | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-18 • 3 minutes
814. Is pain the worst of all evils?
Cicero and Brutus begin a conversation on the nature of pain. Brutus immediately concedes that pain isn't the worst possible evil. Infamy, which indicates a bad character, is to be avoided even at the cost of pain. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-17 • 3 minutes
813. The real philosophical life
How few philosophers will you meet with whose life is conformable to the dictates of reason! Who look on their profession, not as a means of displaying their learning, but as a rule for their own practice! | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-16 • 3 minutes
812. The benefits of the philosophical life
Some people have a natural talent for music. But everyone can learn to play an instrument, even if they don't get to perform at Carnegie Hall. The same goes for philosophy: everyone can benefit from it, but not everyone is a sage. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-15 • 3 minutes
811. Philosophers should be open to being wrong
We who pursue only probabilities, and who cannot go beyond that which seems really likely, can confute others without obstinacy, and are prepared to be confuted ourselves without resentment. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-12 • 3 minutes
810. Philosophy underlies everything else
Cicero explains to his friend Brutus why he writes about philosophy, and why in order to do so well he has to be acquainted with a large variety of fields of inquiry. Philosophical knowledge leads to the good life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-11 • 3 minutes
809. Others are coping, so can you
How can that be miserable for one, which all must of necessity undergo? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-10 • 3 minutes
808. Be careful what you wish for, especially with Apollo
Cicero recounts an anecdote involving Trophonius and Agamedes, who built the temple of Apollo at Delphi. They asked the god for whatever was best, and the god granted it: three days later, they were found dead. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-09 • 3 minutes
807. Rites for the dead, care for the living
People carry out all sorts of rites to "take care" of the dead, even though there is no one to take care of. How about, instead, taking care of the people you love while they are still alive? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-08 • 3 minutes
806. A Cynic reason to donate your organs after you die
Diogenes the Cynic famously didn't care what happened to his body after death, since he believed there would be no sensation. That's an excellent reason to check your driver's license and see if you signed up for organ donation. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-05 • 3 minutes
805. The tiny insects that live one day
Aristotle discovered some insects whose entire life lasts one day. Compared to the vastness of time, our lives are not much longer. The question is whether we are able to live them fully. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-04 • 3 minutes
804. The deal Nature has struck with us
Away, then, with those follies, such as that it is miserable to die before our time. What time do you mean? That of nature? But she has only lent you life, as she might lend you money, without fixing any certain time for its repayment. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-03 • 3 minutes
803. The difference between facts and judgments
The process of nature is this: that in the same manner as our birth was the beginning of things with us, so death will be the end; and as we were not concerned with anything before we were born, so neither shall we be after we are dead. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-02 • 3 minutes
802. As happy as Metellus?
It never occurs to a man that such a disaster may befall himself. As if the number of the happy exceeded that of the miserable; or as if there were any certainty in human affairs. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Mar-01 • 3 minutes
801. The right time to die
Cicero argues that sometimes people live too long for their own good. Which makes the Stoic point that life itself is not an intrinsic good, but the means by which we exercise virtue. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-26 • 3 minutes
800. The real reason we are afraid of death
Death, says Cicero, overtakes us quickly, and it is therefore endurable. It is the thought of leaving people and things behind that is painful. But the Stoics have a unique argument for why we should overcome that fear. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-25 • 3 minutes
799. What Socrates said about death
For the whole life of a philosopher is, as [Socrates] says, a meditation on death. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-24 • 3 minutes
798. On the rationality of grief
Why exactly to we grieve when loved ones are gone? Is it about them, about us? Does it depend on what we think will happen to them after death? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-23 • 3 minutes
797. Two possibilities for the afterlife
How, then, can you, or why do you, assert that you think that death is an evil, when it either makes us happy, in the case of the soul continuing to exist, or, at all events, not unhappy, in the case of our becoming destitute of all sensation? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-22 • 3 minutes
796. On the nature of the soul
Cicero mentions a number of accounts of the nature of the soul, explaining that the Stoic take is that the soul is a physical attribute responsible for our faculty of judgment. And it perishes with us. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-19 • 3 minutes
795. Nature's bargain
Nature has presented us with this bargain: either not being born at all, or being born a mortal. Everything else is the fantasy of priests bent on scaring and controlling us, as Epicurus put it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-18 • 3 minutes
794. The symmetry argument
We seem to be awfully bothered by the fact that we will one day no longer exist. And yet, we didn't suffer from the equally true fact that for a long time we didn't exist. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-17 • 3 minutes
793. Are you so silly as to believe in Cerberus and Sisyphus?
Cicero disputes with his friend about whether we should be afraid of the afterlife, and concludes that we will not exist, and therefore we will not be feeling anything. It is superstition that generates fears of death. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-16 • 3 minutes
792. On true friendship
Just prove to me that you are trustworthy, high-minded and reliable, and that your intentions are benign, and you’ll find that I won’t even wait for you to open your heart to me, I’ll be the first to implore you to lend an ear to my own affairs. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-15 • 3 minutes
791. Get better today, not tomorrow
As it is, you say, 'I will fix my attention tomorrow': which means, let me tell you, 'Today I will be shameless, inopportune, abject: others shall have power to vex me: today I will harbor anger and envy.' | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-12 • 3 minutes
790. You are not perfect, so what?
Is it possible to escape error altogether? No, it is impossible: but it is possible to set one's mind continuously on avoiding error. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-11 • 3 minutes
789. Just pay attention, will you?
Now if such postponement of attention is profitable, it would be still more profitable to abandon it altogether: but if it is not profitable, why do you not keep up your attention continuously? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-10 • 3 minutes
788. How would you like death to find you?
For my part I would be found by death busy with some humane task, whatever it be—something noble, beneficent, advancing the common weal. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-09 • 3 minutes
787. The real value of things
You were shameless and shall be self-respecting, you were untrustworthy and you shall be trusted. If you look for greater things than these, go on doing as you do now: not even a god can save you. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-08 • 3 minutes
786. Pay attention to the cosmic trainer
'Get up', says the trainer, 'and wrestle again, until you are made strong.' Let this be your attitude; for know that nothing is more amenable than the mind of a human being. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-05 • 3 minutes
785. What sort of thirst do you have?
Epictetus draws a distinction between natural and greedy desires, reminding us that the first ones are part of a virtuous life, while the second ones are characteristic of a sick soul. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-04 • 3 minutes
784. Take care of your prohairesis
What then is the subject-matter of the philosopher? Is it a cloak? No, it is reason. What is his end? Is it to wear a cloak? No, but to keep his reason right. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-03 • 3 minutes
783. The distinctiveness of philosophy
Philosophy has been criticized since antiquity, and Epictetus explains why some of this criticism misses the point, and indeed shows that such critics could benefit from a bit of sound philosophical training. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-02 • 3 minutes
782. Be charitable toward other people's shortcomings
'This man washes hastily.' Does he do evil then? Not at all. What is it he does then? He washes hastily. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Feb-01 • 2 minutes
781. Do you have the skills?
When I hear a man called happy because he is honored by Caesar I say, 'What is his portion?' 'A province.' Does he also get a judgement, such as a governor should have? Does he get the skill to use it? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jan-29 • 3 minutes
780. Don't use fancy words, describe the facts
'But now the time is come to die.' What do you mean by 'die'? Do not use fine words, but state the facts as they are. 'Now is the time for your material part to be restored to the elements of which it was composed.' | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jan-28 • 3 minutes
779. Pretend you are in exile
'Exile?' Wherever I go, it will be well with me: for even here it was not the place that made me well off, but my judgements, and these I shall carry away with me, for no one can rob me of them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jan-27 • 3 minutes
778. The judgment of others
Those who pity me shall take their own views: I have neither hunger nor thirst nor cold, but their own hunger or thirst makes them imagine the same of me. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jan-26 • 3 minutes
777. Are you a fox or a lion?
Although we are capable of writing and reading these sentiments, although we can praise them as we read, yet they do not bring conviction to us, nor anything like it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jan-25 • 3 minutes
776. The difference between an amateur and a craftsman
How will those who know despise one who is gentle and self-respecting? By those who do not know? What do you care for them? No craftsman cares for those who have no skill! | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jan-22 • 2 minutes
775. The real value of people, and apples
Is everything judged by its outward form alone? On that principle you must call your waxen apple an apple. No, it must smell and taste like an apple: the outward semblance is not enough. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jan-21 • 3 minutes
774. Developing a better understanding of things
Either you’re going to be depressed when your wish is not realized or foolishly pleased with yourself if it is, overjoyed for the wrong reasons. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jan-20 • 2 minutes
773. Our obsession with control
The more we value things outside our control, the less control we have. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jan-19 • 3 minutes
772. Just pay attention
Very little is needed for everything to be upset and ruined, only a slight lapse in reason. It’s much easier for a mariner to wreck his ship than it is for him to keep it sailing safely. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jan-11 • 3 minutes
771. What did you lose, and what did you gain?
If you forfeit an external possession, make sure to notice what you get in return. If it is something more valuable, never say, ‘I have suffered a loss.’ | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jan-08 • 3 minutes
770. Changing friends
Formerly, when you were devoted to worthless pursuits, your friends found you congenial company. But you can’t be a hit in both roles. To the extent you cultivate one you will fall short in the other. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jan-07 • 3 minutes
769. The problem with hyper-consumerism
Freedom is not achieved by satisfying desire, but by eliminating it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jan-06 • 3 minutes
768. Natural goodness
A plant or animal fares poorly when it acts contrary to its nature; and a human being is no different. Well, then, biting, kicking, wanton imprisonment and beheading–is that what our nature entails? No; rather, acts of kindness, cooperation and good will. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jan-05 • 3 minutes
767. What truly belongs to you
Whoever told you, ‘Walking is your irrevocable privilege’? I said only that the will to walk could not be obstructed. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jan-04 • 3 minutes
766. Learning the art of living
What makes for freedom and fluency in the practice of writing? Knowledge of how to write. The same goes for the practice of playing an instrument. It follows that, in the conduct of life, there must be a science to living well. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2021-Jan-01 • 3 minutes
765. The true nature of freedom
So you admit that you have at least one master. And don’t let the fact that Caesar rules over everyone, as you say, console you: it only means that you’re a slave in a very large household. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-31 • 3 minutes
764. Not bad person lives a happy life
Who wants to live with delusion and prejudice, being unjust, undisciplined, mean and ungrateful? ‘No one.’ No bad person, then, lives the way he wants, and no bad person is free. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-30 • 2 minutes
763. The purpose of philosophizing
Everyone is fond of contemplation. Some make it the object of their lives: to us it is an anchorage, but not a harbor. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-29 • 3 minutes
762. The three types of philosophy of life
There are three kinds of life, and it is a stock question which of the three is the best: the first is devoted to pleasure, the second to contemplation, the third to action. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-28 • 3 minutes
761. Do something for posterity
What is the sage’s purpose in devoting themselves to leisure? They know that in leisure as well as in action they will accomplish something by which they will be of service to posterity. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-24 • 3 minutes
760. Achieve balance in life
It is by no means desirable that one should merely strive to accumulate property without any love of virtue. Similarly, virtue placed in leisure without action is but an incomplete and feeble good thing, because she never displays what she has learned. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-23 • 3 minutes
759. Put to practice your inquiring disposition
We have a habit of saying that the highest good is to live according to nature: now nature has produced us for both purposes, for contemplation and for action. … Nature has [also] bestowed upon us an inquiring disposition. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-22 • 3 minutes
758. How to better serve the human cosmopolis
We are born by accident into a specific nation, but we naturally belong to the human cosmopolis. Reflecting on the nature of virtue and practicing it every day is one way to serve both our fellow citizens and humanity at large. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-21 • 2 minutes
757. Just do your part
The duty of a human being is to be useful to his fellow human beings; if possible, to many of them; failing this, to a few; failing this, to oneself: for when we help others, we advance the general interests of humanity. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-18 • 3 minutes
756. The axiom of futility
If the state is so rotten as to be past helping, if evil has entire dominion over it, the wise man will not labour in vain or waste his strength in unprofitable efforts. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-17 • 3 minutes
755. Should we get involved in politics?
Epicurus says, “The wise man will not take part in politics, except upon some special occasion.” Zeno says, “The wise man will take part in politics, unless prevented by some special circumstance.” | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-16 • 3 minutes
754. Stoicism is not written in stone
Would that all things were already known, that truth were unveiled and recognized, and that none of our doctrines required modification! but as it is we have to seek for truth in the company of the very men who teach it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-15 • 3 minutes
753. There are different ways to be useful to the human cosmopolis
Our Stoic philosophers say we must be in motion up to the very end of our life, we will never cease to labour for the general good, to help individual people, and when stricken in years to afford assistance even to our enemies. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-14 • 3 minutes
752. Set your own priorities, don't slavishly follow other people's
We oscillate between desire and remorse, for we depend entirely upon the opinions of others, and it is that which many people praise and seek after, not that which deserves to be praised and sought after, which we consider to be best. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-11 • 3 minutes
751. How much leisure time do you have, and what do you do with it?
Leisure is important to be able to pursue the good life, and yet by itself it is not sufficient. Without proper education, we are far more likely to waste our time than to use it to good effect. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-10 • 2 minutes
750. Everything changes, act accordingly
A brief existence is common to all things, and yet you avoid and pursue all things as if they would be eternal. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-09 • 2 minutes
749. No point in finding faults
When you are offended at any one’s fault, immediately turn to yourself and reflect in what manner you yourself have erred: for example, in thinking that money is a good thing, or pleasure, or a bit of reputation, and the like. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-08 • 3 minutes
748. Putting things, and people, in perspective
Consider what men are when they are eating, sleeping, coupling, evacuating, and so forth. Then what kind of men they are when they are imperious and arrogant, or angry and scolding from their elevated place. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-07 • 3 minutes
747. Theory and practice
No longer talk at all about the kind of person that a good person ought to be, but be such. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-04 • 3 minutes
746. Always use reason and you'll achieve serenity
He who follows reason in all things is both tranquil and active at the same time, and also cheerful and collected. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-03 • 3 minutes
745. How to become magnanimous
Acquire the contemplative way of seeing how all things change into one another, and constantly attend to it, and exercise yourself about this part of philosophy. For nothing is so much adapted to produce magnanimity. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-02 • 3 minutes
744. Just pay attention, will you?
When you have assumed these names—good, modest, truthful, rational, a person of equanimity, and magnanimous—take care that you do not change these names; and if you should lose them, quickly return to them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Dec-01 • 2 minutes
743. We are part of the universe and have duties toward fellow human beings
Whether the universe is a concourse of atoms, or nature is a system, let this first be established: that I am a part of the whole that is governed by nature; next, that I stand in some intimate connection with other kindred parts. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Nov-30 • 2 minutes
742. How to engage people in a discussion
If someone is mistaken, instruct them kindly and show them their error. But if you are not able, blame yourself, or not even yourself. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Nov-27 • 3 minutes
741. The link between rationality and sociability
Marcus Aurelius says that the rational animal is consequently also a social animal. Not exactly. And yet, he was onto something. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Nov-25 • 3 minutes
740. The Stoics got divination wrong, but cause-effect right
The ancient Stoics believed in divination, because the world works by cause-effect. They were wrong on the specifics, but correct about the general idea, which is what still today underpins modern science. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Nov-24 • 3 minutes
739. Isn't the eye the most sophisticated thing you've ever seen?
The ancient Stoics used their knowledge of human, animal, and plant anatomy to argue for the intelligence and wisdom of the universe. Similar arguments were still advanced at the beginning of the 18th century. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Nov-23 • 3 minutes
738. The universe is not the result of random events
The ancient Stoics advanced an argument for the intelligence of the universe very similar to the one deployed by modern creationists. The difference is that - given the advances of science - creationists ought to know better. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Nov-20 • 3 minutes
737. Reason and wisdom, or chance and necessity?
The Stoics make an argument against the Epicureans about the nature of the universe. For once, it is the Epicureans who got closer t the truth. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Nov-19 • 3 minutes
736. Is the universe governed by wisdom?
The Stoics put forth a three-pronged argument to arrive at the conclusion that the universe is governed wisely and providentially. Unfortunately, their argument is both invalid and unsound. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Nov-18 • 3 minutes
735. Different conceptions of the gods
The Stoics rejected the gods of the Olympian pantheon as obvious projections of human psychology. But modern thinking leads to doubts even about the Stoics' own more sophisticated conception of God as Nature. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Nov-17 • 3 minutes
734. On the movement of the planets
The complex patterns drawn by the planets in the sky seem to indicate the existence of a higher intelligence. But of course modern physics has other ideas. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Nov-16 • 3 minutes
733. The cosmos is neither living nor endowed with mind
Cicero has one of his Stoic characters very explicitly state a notion about the nature of the cosmos that does not hold up to modern philosophical and scientific scrutiny. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Nov-13 • 4 minutes
732. Is the world wise?
Cicero summarizes a beautiful argument by the Stoics to the effect that the world itself is wise. Unfortunately, the argument is based on unsound premises, and its conclusion is incoherent. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Nov-12 • 3 minutes
731. Like from like, nothing from nothing
Zeno claimed that life can only come from life, and reason from reason, so he concluded that the universe was alive and endowed with reason. It's a beautiful idea, but one that has not withstood the test of modern science. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-30 • 3 minutes
730. Zeno tries to demonstrate that the cosmos are capable of reason
Zeno of Citium puts forth a compact argument to conclude that the universe as a whole, as distinct from individual beings within the cosmos, reasons. But the argument is based on a fallacious premise. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-29 • 3 minutes
729. Chrysippus accepts a faulty premise
Chrysippus, the third head of the Stoa, constructs an argument for the existence of god that is unsound, that is, based on a faulty premise. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-28 • 4 minutes
728. Four (bad) arguments for the existence of the gods
Cleanthes, the second head of the Stoa, advances four bad arguments for the existence of the gods. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-27 • 4 minutes
727. Two bad arguments for the existence of gods
We need to demystify the Stoics somewhat. We moderns should value and respect ancient wisdom, but not to the point of mindless worship. This episodes provides two pertinent examples. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-26 • 3 minutes
726. Divination, anyone?
The ancient Stoics believed in divination. They were obviously mistaken about it. And yet the general principle they adopted was very much akin to the one underlying modern science. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-23 • 3 minutes
725. Obviously, the universe is guided by an intelligence. Or is it?
We begin the study of book II of Cicero's On the Nature of the Gods, and we see that the Stoics begin with deploying what is nowadays known as an argument from design. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-22 • 3 minutes
724. Look less critically at others, and a bit more critically at yourself
Do you look at other people’s pimples while yon yourselves are covered with countless ulcers? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-21 • 3 minutes
723. Careful not to underestimate the power of Fortune
You are rendered over-proud by a fine house, as though it could never be burned, and your heads are turned by riches as though Fortune has not sufficient strength to swallow them up. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-20 • 3 minutes
722. Ready for bad stuff to happen, but preferring the good stuff
I shall make whatever befalls me become a good thing, but I prefer that what befalls me should be comfortable and pleasant and unlikely to cause me annoyance. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-19 • 3 minutes
721. Be at ease wherever you find yourself
A Stoic finds herself at ease both in a fancy house where food is served on silver plates and under the bridge sharing the fare with beggars. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-16 • 3 minutes
720. Why wealth is not a good
Riches, I say, are not a good thing; for if they were, they would make people good: now since that which is found even among bad people cannot be termed good, I do not allow them to be called so. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-15 • 2 minutes
719. People's social status doesn't matter
Nature bids me do good to mankind. Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a benefit. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-14 • 2 minutes
718. On rational giving
He who believes giving to be an easy matter, is mistaken: it offers very great difficulties, if we bestow our bounty rationally, and do not scatter it impulsively and at random. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-13 • 3 minutes
717. No one condemned wisdom to poverty
The philosopher may own wealth, but will not own wealth that has been torn from another, or which is stained with another’s blood: her must be obtained without wronging anyone, and without it being won by base means. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-12 • 3 minutes
716. On the desirability of wealth
Do not, then, make any mistake: riches belong to the class of desirable things. But if my riches leave me, they will carry away with them nothing except themselves. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-09 • 3 minutes
715. Tall or short, it doesn't matter
Health, for Aristotle, is a necessary requirement for a eudaimonic life. For the Stoics, it is preferred, other things being equal, but a life worth living is within grasp of everyone, regardless of their specific condition. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-08 • 3 minutes
714. Rich, and yet a philosopher?
Wealth ought to be despised, not that we should not possess it, but that we should not possess it with fear and trembling: we do not drive it away from us, but when it leaves us, we follow after it unconcernedly. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-07 • 3 minutes
713. The basic precepts of a good Stoic life
Seneca gives us a handy list of fundamental goals to live a life worth living. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-06 • 3 minutes
712. When an Epicurean goes Stoic
Diodorus has said what you do not like to hear, because you too ought to do it. “I’ve lived, I’ve run the race which Fortune set me.” | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-05 • 3 minutes
711. Aspiring to a life of virtue while being a fallible human being
I shall continue to praise that life which I do not, indeed, lead, but which I know I ought to lead, loving virtue and following after her, albeit a long way behind her and with halting gait. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-02 • 3 minutes
710. I'm not a sage, but I get better every day
I am not a wise man, so do not require me to be on a level with the best of men, but merely to be better than the worst: I am satisfied, if every day I take away something from my vices and correct my faults. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Oct-01 • 3 minutes
709. Between Cynicism and Aristotelianism
Why, then, do you talk so much more bravely than you live? Why do you pay regard to common rumor, and feel annoyed by calumnious gossip? Why do you drink wine that is older than yourself? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-30 • 3 minutes
708. Are you controlling your pleasures, or the other way around?
Let virtue lead the way and bear the standard: we shall have pleasure for all that, but we shall be her masters and controllers; she may win some concessions from us, but will not force us to do anything. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-29 • 3 minutes
707. The real problem with Epicureanism
Seneca strikes a sympathetic note toward Epicureanism, suggesting that it is a misunderstood philosophy, just like, in some respects, modern Stoicism turns out to be. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-28 • 3 minutes
706. The balance between pleasure and virtue
You devote yourself to pleasures, I check them; you indulge in pleasure, I use it; you think that it is the highest good, I do not even think it to be good: for the sake of pleasure I do nothing, you do everything. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-25 • 3 minutes
705. Why are you asking for more?
Does this not appear great enough, when I tell you that the highest good is an unyielding strength of mind, wisdom, magnanimity, sound judgment, freedom, harmony, beauty? Do you still ask me for something greater? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-24 • 3 minutes
704. Virtue is its own reward
If exercising virtue is pleasurable, aren't the Stoics a kind of Epicureans in disguise? Not at all, because the pleasure of virtue is a byproduct, not the main goal. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-23 • 3 minutes
703. Harmonize your mind
A mind in harmony with itself is a virtuous one, because it is the vices that are at war with each other. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-22 • 2 minutes
702. Pleasure is the companion, not the essence, of life
The ancients bade us lead the highest, not the most pleasant life, in order that pleasure might not be the guide but the companion of a right-thinking and honorable mind. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-21 • 2 minutes
701. The difference between pleasure and virtue
If pleasure and virtue were entirely inseparable, we should not see some things to be pleasant, but not honorable, and others most honorable indeed, but hard and only to be attained by suffering. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-18 • 3 minutes
700. Reason is the only thing that will make you truly happy
That person is happy, whose reason recommends to them the whole posture of their affairs. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-17 • 3 minutes
699. There is no happiness without truth
For no one can be styled happy who is beyond the influence of truth. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-16 • 3 minutes
698. Do away with hope and fear
A person may be called “happy” who, thanks to reason, has ceased either to hope or to fear: but rocks also feel neither fear nor sadness, yet no one would call those things happy which cannot comprehend what happiness is. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-15 • 2 minutes
697. Fortune vs virtue
The highest good is a mind which despises the accidents of fortune, and takes pleasure in virtue. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-14 • 3 minutes
696. Pursue the pleasures of life, in moderation
A happy life must also set due value upon all the things which adorn our lives, without over-estimating any one of them, and must be able to enjoy the bounty of Fortune without becoming her slave. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-11 • 3 minutes
695. Don't follow blindly what other say, no matter how famous they are
When I say “our opinion,” I do not bind myself to any one of the chiefs of the Stoic school, for I too have a right to form my own opinion. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-10 • 3 minutes
694. Don't go after fool's gold
These good things which men gaze at in wonder, which they crowd to see, which one points out to another with speechless admiration, are outwardly brilliant, but within are miseries to those who possess them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-09 • 2 minutes
693. Living by reason, not by imitation of others
Nothing gets us into greater troubles than our subservience to common rumor, living not by reason but by imitation of others. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-08 • 3 minutes
692. What is happiness anyway?
Seneca advises his brother, and us, not to listen to the random "shouts and clamors" of people, but to reflect carefully on what happiness is and how to achieve it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-07 • 2 minutes
691. Do not wish for impossible things
We know that certain things are features of the world. Like the existence of annoying people. Do not wish them away, because that is impossible. Rather, teach them, or bear with them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-04 • 2 minutes
690. Do not wait for Plato's Republic
Do not expect Plato’s Republic: but be content if the smallest thing goes on well, and consider such an event to be no small matter. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-03 • 2 minutes
689. Either god or randomness
In a word, if there is a god, all is well; and if chance rules, do not also be governed by it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-02 • 2 minutes
688. Do not concern yourself with other people's opinions
Other people's opinions are not under your control, so focus instead on your own judgments and decisions to act or not to act. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Sep-01 • 3 minutes
687. Negative and positive actions on behalf of the cosmopolis
As you yourself are a component part of a social system, so let every act of yours be a component part of social life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-31 • 2 minutes
686. Everything changes
All things are changing: and you yourself are in continuous mutation and in a manner in continuous destruction, and the whole universe, too. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-28 • 3 minutes
685. The importance of our ruling faculty
Things stand outside of us, themselves by themselves, neither knowing anything of themselves nor expressing any judgment. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-27 • 2 minutes
684. Objective situations and subjective judgments
Today I have got out of all trouble, or rather I have cast out all trouble, for it was not outside, but within and in my opinions. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-26 • 3 minutes
683. Apply reason to social improvement
Labor not as one who is wretched, nor yet as one who would be pitied or admired; but direct your will to one thing only: to act or not to act as social reason requires. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-25 • 2 minutes
682. Teach them or bear with them
If you are able, correct by teaching those who do wrong; but if you cannot, remember that indulgence is given to you for this purpose. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-24 • 3 minutes
681. When peope do wrong they hurt themselves first
He who does wrong does wrong against himself. He who acts unjustly acts unjustly to himself, because he makes himself bad. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-21 • 2 minutes
680. Pain, pleasure, and injustice
Our fear of pain and our desire for pleasure sometimes lead to injustice. Let that not be the case. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-20 • 3 minutes
679. The nature of injustice
Marcus Aurelius thinks injustice is a type of impiety against the cosmos. Modern Stoics have updated the concept, since we don't believe the universe to be a sentient living being. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-19 • 2 minutes
678. Setting up again what chance has overthrown
From a Stoic point of view, there is absolutely nothing more important in life than to exercise our virtue in order to help our fellow brothers and sisters of the human cosmopolis. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-18 • 2 minutes
677. Help, instead of pity, others
The wise person will not pity others, but will help them and be of service to them, seeing that he is born to be a help to all people and a public benefit. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-17 • 3 minutes
676. The ideal ruler
Seneca details the characteristics of the ideal ruler. We should look for the same in the people who govern us. And in ourselves. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-14 • 2 minutes
675. Stoicism in the service of all
No school of philosophy is more gentle and benign, none is more full of love towards man or more anxious to promote the happiness of all. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-13 • 2 minutes
674. The opposite of mercy is cruelty
The virtues are never in contradiction with each other. The vices are never good for the people who indulge them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-12 • 3 minutes
673. The nature and importance of mercy
We should all follow Seneca's advice, resisting the urge for revenge and punishment, and practicing mercy and forgiveness. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-11 • 3 minutes
672. When cruelty becomes pleasure
Both rulers and ordinary people sometimes turn cruelty into a pleasure. It seriously undermines the most precious thing we all have: our character. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-10 • 2 minutes
671. Let us be more forgiving
Seneca reminds us that the human animal is a delicate thing, forgiveness for his mistakes is often in order. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-07 • 3 minutes
670. The right and the wrong times to use violence
Turns out that, when the proper criteria are followed, it is almost never the time to use violence, either as a society, or as individuals. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-06 • 3 minutes
669. People can change, and so can we
Seneca provides a historically accurate analysis of the life of Octavian Augustus, the first Roman emperor. With implications for how to live our own lives. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-05 • 2 minutes
668. The tyrant will not be able to hide
A cruel reign is disordered and hidden in darkness, and while all shake with terror at the sudden explosions, not even he who caused all this disturbance escapes unharmed. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-04 • 3 minutes
667. Beware of the corruption of the justice system
Seneca reminds us that prosecutors and judges might be corrupted, and that we have to take this into account when we act. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Aug-03 • 3 minutes
666. Do not support leaders who drag their office into the mud
Seneca issues a stern reminder to Nero about the responsibilities of government. It can all too easily be applied today. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-31 • 2 minutes
665. War is cruelty on a massive scale
Seneca warns that the cruelty of people in charge of government can have massive consequences. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-30 • 3 minutes
664. When you hurt others, you hurt yourself
Seneca reminds Nero, and us, that not doing the right thing is first and foremost injurious to ourselves. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-29 • 3 minutes
663. Seneca and the Peter Parker principle
With great power comes great responsibility, as both Seneca and Spider-Man agree. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-28 • 3 minutes
662. Let us err on the side of clemency
Seneca makes an epistemic argument to convince us that it is better to err on the side of clemency, rather than punishment. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-27 • 3 minutes
661. Clemency helps the innocent and the virtuous
Seneca makes an argument in favor of a broad conception of clemency, not just on behalf of the guilty, but of the innocent and the virtuous. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-24 • 3 minutes
660. Is Nero going to "forget" his character?
Seneca flatters Nero at the same time as he issues veiled threats to the new emperor, in case he steers from the right path. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-23 • 3 minutes
659. Seneca offers himself as a mirror for Nero's soul
We begin the study of the controversial On Clemency, through which Seneca tried to steer Nero's course for the good of the Roman people. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-22 • 3 minutes
658. Overcome your fear of death and you will be free and powerful
Epictetus and Seneca agree: our own death is the ultimate test of our character, and philosophy is a long journey to prepare us for it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-21 • 3 minutes
657. What is and is not up to us
'What then, if I fall ill?' You shall bear illness well. 'Who shall tend me?' God, and your friends. 'I shall lie on a hard bed.' But you can do it like a man. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-20 • 3 minutes
656. Consider how much control you have, and what follows from that
When you think about it, it turns out that we have far less control over things and people than we think, and therefore far less blame. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-17 • 3 minutes
655. You can get better immediately, it's up to you
Epictetus says that our moral improvement is not like the Olympic Games: when we fail, we can resume immediately, not having to wait four years. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-16 • 3 minutes
654. If you are in Gyara, live as one who is in Gyara
Epictetus advises us to live the life we have, in the place we are, rather than indulge in regret for what we may have lost. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-15 • 3 minutes
653. How to practice and what to practice
Epictetus gives us a very practical pointer about how to incorporate Stoic precepts in our lives. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-14 • 3 minutes
652. Do not wish for figs in winter
There is a proper time for everything, including enjoying your loved ones. Keep it in mind, before they're gone. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-13 • 3 minutes
651. Stoics have a duty to work toward social and political change
Epictetus tells us what happens when a person is truly free. Tyrants begin to tremble. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-10 • 3 minutes
650. Why should we be good?
At Olympia you do not want anything else; you are content to have been crowned at Olympia. Does it seem to you so small and worthless a thing to be noble and good and happy? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-09 • 3 minutes
649. Enjoy figs in the summer, don't wish for them in the winter
How can you wish at the same time to grow old and not to see the death of any that you love? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-08 • 2 minutes
648. Practicing philosophy is like going to the doctor's office
Friends, the school of a philosopher is a hospital. When you leave, you should have suffered, not enjoyed yourself. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-07 • 3 minutes
647. Focus on the deed, not the praise
‘He’s a clever young man and a fan of rhetoric.’ ‘How do you know?’ ‘He praises me.’ Oh, well, that proves it, of course. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-06 • 3 minutes
646. Your roles in life
Let us play our roles in life well. Not acting lik a sheep, gently but at random; nor destructively, like a wild beast. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-03 • 3 minutes
645. The ultimate locus of your freedom
Look, can you be forced to assent to what appears to you wrong?’ ‘No.’ ‘Or to dissent from the plain truth?’ ‘No.’ ‘Then you see you do have within you a share of freedom.’ | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-02 • 3 minutes
644. Who are you, anyway?
My mind represents for me my medium – like wood to a carpenter, or leather to a shoemaker. The goal in my case is the correct use of impressions. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jul-01 • 3 minutes
643. It's about deeds, not words
So you can talk the right talk about Stoicism. But do you also walk the right walk? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-30 • 2 minutes
642. A philosophy needs to be digested properly, not just vomited
Those who have learnt precepts and nothing more are anxious to give them out at once, just as men with weak stomachs vomit food. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-29 • 3 minutes
641. Reframing problems into training exercises
I have a bad neighbor – bad, that is, for himself. For me, though, he is good: he exercises my powers of fairness and sociability. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-26 • 2 minutes
640. When the universe sends you a sparring partner
A boxer derives the greatest advantage from his sparring partner – and my accuser is my sparring partner. He trains me in patience, civility and even temper. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-25 • 2 minutes
639. Don't make yourself a salve of others
For God’s sake, stop honoring externals, quit turning yourself into the tool of mere matter, or of people who can supply you or deny you those material things. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-24 • 2 minutes
638. What is truly good or bad
‘Being healthy is good, being sick is bad.’ No, my friend: enjoying health in the right way is good; making bad use of your health is bad. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-23 • 2 minutes
637. Examine your values carefully
When people say that the unjust person is better off because he has more money, what exactly is their system of values? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-22 • 2 minutes
636. The character gap
Keep well out of the sun, then, so long as your principles are as pliant as wax. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-19 • 2 minutes
635. The fine trappings of a horse
Are you proud of things for which you don't really deserve credit? Or for things that are not important? Reflect on this, and set your priorities straight. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-18 • 2 minutes
634. Are you alone or lonely?
Epictetus reminds us to draw a distinction between our objective situation and the way we feel about it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-17 • 3 minutes
633. Ask your impressions for the right password
We should always examine our impressions and ask whether they pass the test: are they in according with reason? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-16 • 3 minutes
632. How to deal with a difficult relative
'My brother ought not to have behaved so to me.' No, but it is his business to look to that; however he may behave, I will deal with him as I ought. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-15 • 2 minutes
631. What is always within your power
If now is the time for fever, take your fever in the right way; if for thirst, thirst in the right way, if for hunger, hunger aright. Is it not in your power? Who will hinder you? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-12 • 3 minutes
630. Philosophical journaling
Epictetus explains one of the most powerful techniques in the Stoic toolkit for a better and more meaningful life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-11 • 2 minutes
629. The problem with wealth is that it doesn't guarantee you a sound mind
You have vessels of gold, but your reason--judgements, assent, impulse, will--is of common clay. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-10 • 3 minutes
628. That is tyranny, not government
Epictetus argues that rational creatures will always oppose tyrannical governments. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-09 • 3 minutes
627. Argue less, practice more
Epictetus draws a distinction between philosophy pursued for its own sake and philosophy as the art of life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-08 • 3 minutes
626. What do you like to tend to?
Socrates liked to daily monitor his moral self-improvement. How can we do the same? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-05 • 2 minutes
625. Contemplating your final activity
Epictetus asks us to think about what we'd like to be doing when death will overtake us. It's an interesting exercise in self-knowledge. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-04 • 3 minutes
624. Facts don't come with judgments attached to them
What, after all, are sighing and crying, except opinions? What is ‘misfortune’? An opinion. And sectarian strife, dissension, blame and accusation, ranting and raving – they all are mere opinion. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-03 • 3 minutes
623. The raw material of the good person
Epictetus reminds us that to become a better person we need to apply our reasoning faculty to arrive at better judgments. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-02 • 3 minutes
622. We need to be human beings, not statues
Epictetus puts to rest the notion that Stoics are supposed to suppress their emotions. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jun-01 • 3 minutes
621. The three disciplines of Epictetus
There are three areas of training in Stoic ethics: to desire the proper things, to act properly in the world, and to arrive at the best possible judgments. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-29 • 3 minutes
620. Socrates and Alcibiades
Epictetus stresses the difference between physical and inner beauty. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-28 • 3 minutes
619. Give yourself a break (from externals)
Seneca notices that people fear old age in part because they fear irrelevance. But no one is irrelevant so long as they keep striving to be better human beings. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-27 • 3 minutes
618. Free yourself from the fickleness of others
People who seek external goods become the slaves of those who happen to have the power to grant such goods. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-26 • 2 minutes
617. Pay attention to the ledger of your life
What sort of things are truly important in your life, and why? Should you be reconsidering your current priorities? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-25 • 3 minutes
616. How to avoid a wretched life
People with misguided priorities live a wretched life, so let's get our priorities straight and aim for a serene existence instead. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-22 • 3 minutes
615. On the futility of war
Seneca writes a poignant passage reminding us of the futile waste of human life that war is. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-21 • 3 minutes
614. Past, present, and future
Seneca reminds us what is the proper Stoic attitude toward past, present, and future. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-20 • 3 minutes
613. The immortality of philosophy
Honors, statues, and wealth, don't last much after one's death. Philosophy is forever. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-19 • 3 minutes
612. Try some true friends instead
The philosophers of the past are your true friends: they give wisdom without asking for money, or imperiling your life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-18 • 3 minutes
611. Have a conversation with Socrates or Epicurus
Seneca reminds us of the span of philosophical inquiry, and of how delightful it is to engage with the greatest minds from across time and cultures. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-15 • 3 minutes
610. Spend time in good company
Read the great minds of humanity, those that have insights on how to live a meaningful life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-14 • 3 minutes
609. On the treatment of humans and animals
Seneca criticizes the slaughter of people and animals for the sake of entertainment. Today, the suffering continues, in slaughterhouses. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-13 • 3 minutes
608. How to properly go to the barber
Thought experiment: if you knew you were to die soon, what sort of things would you prioritize, and what let go of entirely? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-12 • 3 minutes
607. The three periods of life
The mind that is untroubled and tranquil has the power to roam into all the parts of its life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-11 • 3 minutes
606. How to get to old age
Old age surprises people while their minds are still childish, and they come to it unprepared and unarmed, for they have made no provision for it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-08 • 3 minutes
605. Live in the here and now
The greatest hindrance to living is expectancy, which depends upon the morrow and wastes to-day. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-07 • 3 minutes
604. Postponement is the greatest waste of life
Life will follow the path it started upon, and will neither reverse nor check its course; it will make no noise, it will not remind you of its swiftness. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-06 • 3 minutes
603. Are you on a voyage, or just tossed about by the currents of life?
There is no reason for you to think that any man has lived long because he has grey hairs or wrinkles; he has not lived long — he has existed long. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-05 • 2 minutes
602. Learning how to live, and how to die
It takes the whole of life to learn how to live, and — what will perhaps make you wonder more — it takes the whole of life to learn how to die. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-May-01 • 3 minutes
601. Set aside time to better yourself
Are you not ashamed to set apart for wisdom only that time which cannot be devoted to any business? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-30 • 3 minutes
600. Time to change your plans, right now
Examine how you spend your time, decide how to improve, and don't wait until tomorrow to chance. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-29 • 2 minutes
599. Time vs money
We are very careful with the management of our money, but far less so with that of our most precious commodity: time. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-28 • 2 minutes
598. Much of your life is not up to you
The part of life we really live is small. For all the rest of existence is not life, but merely time. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-27 • 3 minutes
597. Life is long enough
It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-24 • 3 minutes
596. On the shortness of life
Is life too short? Depends on what you do with it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-23 • 3 minutes
595. We ought to take care of everyone
To do philosophy means to reason and act correctly toward others. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-22 • 3 minutes
594. The problem with luxury
While wealth is a preferred indifferent, luxury is more problematic, from a Stoic perspective. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-21 • 3 minutes
593. The importance of experience and self-control
Musonius Rufus says that the combination of experience and self-control allow us to do what is right by others and ourselves. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-20 • 2 minutes
592. Think about the long term consequences of your actions
Musonius Rufus contrasts the short duration of a shameful pleasure with the lingering regret that will follow. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-17 • 3 minutes
591. The philosophy school is like the doctor's office
The philosopher’s school is a doctor’s office. You must leave not pleased, but pained, because you do not come in healthy. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-16 • 3 minutes
590. You made the only mistake you could possibly make
A rare glimpse into the life of young Epictetus, when he gets criticized by his teacher, Musonius Rufus. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-15 • 3 minutes
589. What we should concern ourselves with
Musonius Rufus clearly states how to implement the dichotomy of control in our lives. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-14 • 3 minutes
588. How to save $1000 by challenging impressions.
Musonius Rufus reminds us that our most precious faculty is our ability to challenge impressions | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-13 • 3 minutes
587. Patterning ourselves after Zeus
Musonius Rufus is confronted by a critic about what it means to live according to Zeus, or Nature. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-10 • 3 minutes
586. Don't try to reason with those who can't hear
Words of advice and warning administered when a person’s emotions are at their height and boiling over, accomplish little or nothing. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-09 • 2 minutes
585. Take care of your mind just like you do of your body
In order to protect ourselves we must live like doctors and be continually treating ourselves with reason. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-08 • 2 minutes
584. Practice what you preach
Don’t expect to tell others what they should do when they know that you do what you shouldn’t. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-07 • 3 minutes
583. On being useful to others
It is not proper for one to die who is helpful to many while he is alive, unless by dying he is helpful to more. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-06 • 3 minutes
582. Make your last choice while you still can
Choose to die well while you can; wait too long, and it might become impossible to do so. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-03 • 2 minutes
581. Shameful speech undermines your character
If we speak badly, we think badly, and we are more likely to act badly. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-02 • 3 minutes
580. Pain vs pleasure
Musonius Rufus reminds us to be on guard concerning the effects that both pain and pleasure may have on our character. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Apr-01 • 3 minutes
579. The importance of self-control
Self-control, often referred to as the fourth cardinal virtue of temperance, is crucial to Stoicism and other philosophies of life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-31 • 3 minutes
578. Criticizing tyrants is not enough
Musonius Rufus reminds us that we might have the same bad inclinations as other people, so we should start working on ourselves first. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-30 • 2 minutes
577. Live in the here and now
Musonius Rufus reminds us that we can, and should, only live in the present. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-27 • 3 minutes
576. The interplay between nature and wisdom
Cicero deploys a beautiful metaphor to encapsulate the Stoic theory of moral developmental psychology. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-26 • 3 minutes
575. What wisdom is for
Wisdom is what allows us to use everything well. Things like money or education have no intrinsic value, they become valuable if we use them correctly. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-25 • 3 minutes
574. Live according to nature
Cicero provides three interpretations of the famous Stoic motto, live according to nature. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-24 • 3 minutes
573. The virtues of sound reasoning and scientific understanding
The Stoics adopted four ethical virtues, but also two epistemic ones: good reasoning and scientific understanding. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-23 • 3 minutes
572. On friendship
Friendship is intrinsically choice-worthy, going beyond just instrumental value. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-20 • 3 minutes
571. Our social duties
Cicero explains how the wise person is supposed to be involved in society, politics, and family. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-19 • 3 minutes
570. On private property
The Stoic take on private property is that it isn't really property: it's on temporary loan from the universe. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-17 • 2 minutes
569. Sociability, not pleasure
Cicero proposes a simple argument for why sociability, not pleasure, is the ultimate human desire. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-16 • 3 minutes
568. Expanding our circle of concerns
We learn the rudiments of ethics within our family. But we cannot stop there. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-13 • 3 minutes
567. On suicide
Cicero explains what criterion the Stoic uses to decide whether to walk through the open door. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-12 • 3 minutes
566. On fame: Chrysippus agrees with Diogenes
Despite the fact that Stoics and Cynics treated externals differently, apparently both Chrysippus and Diogenes thought fame not worth stretching a finger for. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-11 • 3 minutes
565. Why some indifferents are preferred
Cicero tells us that some indifferents are preferred for their own sake, some for the results they bring, some for both reasons. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-10 • 4 minutes
564. Stoicism, Cynicism, and Aristotelianism
Stoicism occupies a logical space between the kin philosophies of Cynicism and Aristotelianism. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-09 • 3 minutes
563. The drowning man metaphor
Virtue is all or nothing, and yet we can make progress toward it. How does this Stoic paradox work? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-06 • 4 minutes
562. More on Aristotelians vs Stoics
Cicero explains how Aristotelians and Stoics treat externals, such as health, wealth, and so on. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-05 • 3 minutes
561. On pain and mind
Cicero reminds us that how we experience pain -- both physical and emotional -- in part depends on how we mentally approach the experience. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-04 • 3 minutes
560. Aristotelianism vs Stoicism
Aristotelianism and Stoicism differ in their conceptions of eudaimonia, the kind of life we should pursue. In a sense, they are both right. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-03 • 4 minutes
559. Intentions vs consequences
Unlike much modern thinking in moral philosophy, Stoicism is about intentions. Which doesn't mean Stoics don't care about consequences. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Mar-02 • 3 minutes
558. Living according to nature
Cicero reminds us of the quintessential Stoic motto: we should live in accordance with nature. It's a crucial concept, spanning the arc of ancient Stoicism, from Zeno of Citium to Marcus Aurelius. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-28 • 3 minutes
557. Why a good life is a moral life
Cicero articulates a Stoic syllogism aiming at demonstrating that the good life is a moral life. We look at whether the syllogism is valid and sound. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-27 • 3 minutes
556. The chief good is the moral good
The wise person is happy because she is in complete control of the chief good in life: the moral good. Everything else is a preferred or dispreferred (moral) indifferent. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-25 • 3 minutes
555. The metaphor of the archer
Cicero explains the notions of preferred indifferents and of the dichotomy of control by means of one of the most famous metaphors in Stoic literature: a discussion what is and is not up to an archer attempting to hit a target. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-25 • 3 minutes
554. The mixed roots of virtue
According to Stoic moral developmental psychology we begin life as self centered organisms, whose prosocial behavior develops initially by instinct, and then proceeds further with the aid of reason. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-24 • 3 minutes
553. Things that have value outside of virtue
Things like health and wealth are choiceworthy. But what gives them value is, specifically, that they are the raw materials through which we exercise our chief good: virtue. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-20 • 3 minutes
552. Our natural delight in the use of reason
Cicero explains that human beings are naturally drawn to the use of reason, beginning when they are children. He also talks about the Stoic concept of katalepsis, the kind of impression so strong that it is undeniable. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-19 • 3 minutes
551. The root of virtue: self love
Cicero has Cato the Younger explain a fundamental concept of Stoic developmental psychology: how virtue is rooted in innate self love, and how we do things that are good for us regardless of pleasure and pain. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-18 • 3 minutes
550. The crucial importance of technical words
Cicero explains why philosophy needs a technical vocabulary, and we look at the sort of issues this may cause when talking to people who are unfamiliar with such vocabulary. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-17 • 3 minutes
549. Virtue vs pleasure
At the onset of book III of Cicero's De Finibus, Cato the Younger explain the difference between the Epicurean and Stoic positions on the respective values of pleasure and virtue. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-14 • 3 minutes
548. Teach or endure
People exist for the sake of one another. Teach them then or bear with them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-13 • 3 minutes
547. Two scenarios for the after-death
Marcus Aurelius contemplates two possible scenarios for what happens after we die. Neither one of which justifies our fears on the matter. Better to focus instead on the fact that we are alive, here and now. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-12 • 2 minutes
546. What is properly ours and what is not
Marcus Aurelius reminds us that just as we do not control other people's bodies, so we do not control their opinions and judgments. We should, therefore, be concerned chiefly with improving our own. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-11 • 2 minutes
545. Of bitter cucumbers and thorny briars
“A cucumber is bitter.” Throw it away. “There are briars in the road.” Turn aside from them. This is enough. Do not add, “And why were such things made in the world?” | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-10 • 3 minutes
544. The inner citadel
The mind that is free from passions is a citadel, for we have nothing more secure to which we can fly for refuge and repel every attack. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-07 • 3 minutes
543. The courage to stay
Marcus Aurelius reminds himself that if life is unbearable, one has the option to leave. But we have a duty, toward ourselves and others, to stay, if at all possible. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-06 • 2 minutes
542. Value judgments are not inherent in things
If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs you, but your own judgment about it. And it is in your power to wipe out this judgment now. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-05 • 3 minutes
541. Achieving ataraxia
Take me and cast me where you will; for there I shall keep my divine part tranquil, that is, content, if it can feel and act conformably to its proper constitution. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-04 • 3 minutes
540. On fame, posthumous or not
Those who rather pursue posthumous fame do not consider that the people of tomorrow will be exactly like these whom they cannot bear now; and both are mortal. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Feb-03 • 2 minutes
539. Three things to care about
It is my delight to keep the ruling faculty sound without turning away from any of the things that happen to people, but looking at and receiving all with welcoming eyes and using everything according to its value. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-31 • 3 minutes
538. The nuanced conflict between pleasure and virtue
I see no virtue that is opposed to justice; but I see a virtue that is opposed to love of pleasure, and that is temperance. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-30 • 3 minutes
537. How not to get overwhelmed by problems
Do not let your thoughts at once embrace all the various troubles that you may expect to befall you: but on every occasion ask yourself, What is there in this that is intolerable and past bearing? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-29 • 2 minutes
536. A prepared mind is a mark of wisdom
All things happen in a more endurable fashion to people who are prepared for them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-28 • 2 minutes
535. The true meaning of human freedom
Freedom consists in raising one’s mind superior to injuries and becoming a person whose pleasures come from himself alone. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-27 • 2 minutes
534. When it comes to people insulting you, you are in complete control
It is a sort of revenge to spoil a man’s enjoyment of the insult he has offered to us … the success of an insult lies in the sensitiveness and rage of the victim. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-24 • 2 minutes
533. The insult conundrum
Do these things befall me deservedly or undeservedly? If deservedly, it is not an insult, but a judicial sentence; if undeservedly, then he who does injustice ought to blush, not I. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-23 • 3 minutes
532. The best way to respond to insults
When insulted, Cato did not flare up and revenge the outrage, he did not even pardon it, but ignored it, showing more magnanimity in not acknowledging it than if he had forgiven it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-22 • 2 minutes
531. Rich people are worse than beggars
The wise man will not admire himself even if many rich men admire him; for he knows that they differ in no respect from beggars — nay, are even more wretched than they; for beggars want but a little, whereas rich men want a great deal. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-21 • 3 minutes
530. On the invulnerability of the wise person
Wise persons are without anger, which is caused by the appearance of injury. And they could not be free from anger unless they were also free from injury, which they know cannot be done to them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-20 • 3 minutes
529. Is sagehood possible?
Seneca argues that Cato the Younger was a sage, but a modern biography casts some doubt on that. Do sages ever walk the earth? Who would you put forth as your favorite candidate? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-17 • 2 minutes
528. How to react to both prosperity and adversity
Bear adversity with calm and prosperity with moderation, neither yielding to the former nor trusting to the latter. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-16 • 2 minutes
527. The simplified dichotomy of control
Fortune can take nothing away save what she gave. Now fortune does not give virtue; therefore she does not take it away. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-15 • 2 minutes
526. The meaning of invulnerability
Invulnerable is not that which is never struck, but that which is never wounded. In this class I will show you the wise person. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-14 • 3 minutes
525. We are free no matter what
"For Cato did not outlive freedom, nor did freedom outlive Cato." On the Stoic conception of suicide. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-13 • 3 minutes
524. The path to virtue is not as steep as some may think
“But the way by which we are asked to climb is steep and uneven.” What then? Can heights be reached by a level path? Yet they are not so sheer and precipitous as some think. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-10 • 3 minutes
523. The joke's on the thief
Nobody wants to do what is bad for them. So when the thief steals, he is under the wrong impression about what is and is not good for him. We should therefore pity him, and help him understand, if possible. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-09 • 3 minutes
522. The importance of logic
A student asks Epictetus whether we should really bother to learn logic. "Would you like me to provide you with an argument?" Yes. "How would you know if my argument is a good one, if you don't understand logic?" QED. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-08 • 3 minutes
521. Humanity's problems stem from ignorance
According to Epictetus, the root of our problems is that we don't know, or refuse to acknowledge, how the world works. As opposed as to how we wished it worked. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-07 • 2 minutes
520. Practice, practice, practice
If someone gets the habit of writing ungrammatically, their art is bound to be destroyed and perish. In the same way the person of honor keeps their character by honest acts and loses it by dishonest. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-06 • 3 minutes
519. Don't behave like a sheep or a wild beast
What sets aside human beings from the rest of the animal world is our ability to reason and our propensity to be pro-social. So let's reason well, and be helpful to fellow humans. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2020-Jan-02 • 2 minutes
518. The power of using impressions
Since plants do not even have the power of perception, ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are not applicable to them. Evidently, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ presume the power of using impressions. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-30 • 3 minutes
517. What if you were sent to Gyara?
The island of Gyara was the exile place of choice for troublesome people during the Roman Empire. How would you handle being sent into exile? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-27 • 2 minutes
516. The wonder and curse of consciousness
Because we’re the only animals who not only die but are conscious of it even while it happens, we are beset by anxiety. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-26 • 2 minutes
515. Microcosm and macrocosm
Because what is a human being? Part of a community – the community of gods and men, primarily, and secondarily that of the city we happen to inhabit, which is only a microcosm of the universe in toto. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-23 • 3 minutes
514. The true nature of humanity
Human beings are neither mindless drones in a beehive nor entirely self-contained individuals. We are highly social animals, and a number of ethical implications follow from this biological fact. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-20 • 3 minutes
513. Going on a trip? Here's what's up to you (and what isn't)
A nice analogy from Epictetus between our choices in life and those we have when we go on a trip. Even when the trip doesn't end well... | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-19 • 2 minutes
512. What really matters
Material things per se are indifferent, but the use we make of them is not indifferent. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-18 • 3 minutes
511. The crucial importance of trust
Trust is crucial for intimate relationships, for friendships, and even among fellow citizens. Research shows that nations with the highest degree of self-reported happiness among its citizens are those in which people feel like they can trust each other. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-17 • 2 minutes
510. Prosoche, or Stoic attention
We know how to analyze arguments, and have the skill a person needs to evaluate competent logicians. But in life what do we do? What today we say is good, tomorrow we'll swear is bad. That's because we don't pay attention. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-16 • 3 minutes
509. Better swallow the bitter pill from the get go
When I see that one thing, virtue, is supreme and most important, I cannot say that something else is, just to make you happy. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-13 • 2 minutes
508. Don't get lost in the details and miss the big picture
Some become captivated by all these things and don’t want to proceed further. One is captivated by deductive or equivocal arguments, someone else by yet another ‘inn’ of this kind; and there they stay and rot as if seduced by the Sirens. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-12 • 2 minutes
507. Don't confuse a rest stop with your destination
People act like a traveller headed for home who stops at an inn and, finding it comfortable, decides to remain there. You’ve lost sight of your goal, man. You were supposed to drive through the inn, not park there. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-11 • 3 minutes
506. Anger is a waste of time
Why should we, as though we were born to live forever, waste our tiny span of life in declaring anger against any one? Life is a matter which does not admit of waste, and we have no spare time to throw away. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-10 • 2 minutes
505. The simplest and bets trick in life: be prepared
Is anyone surprised at being cold in winter? At being sick at sea? Or at being jostled in the street? The mind is strong enough to bear those evils for which it is prepared. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-09 • 4 minutes
504. How to keep a philosophical journal
Seneca gives us a rationale and detailed instructions on how too keep a philosophical journal. And modern cognitive science confirms that it works in order to improve self-analysis and let go of negative emotions. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-06 • 2 minutes
503. The problem is money
Money is what wearies out the law-courts, sows strife between father and son, concocts poisons, and gives swords to murderers just as to soldiers: it is stained with our blood. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-05 • 2 minutes
502. Examine your balance sheet of giving and receiving
Do you ask, what is your greatest fault? It is, that you keep your accounts wrongly: you set a high value upon what you give, and a low one upon what you receive. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-04 • 2 minutes
501. Envy is the root of much unhappiness
A person will never be well off to whom it is a torture to see any one better off than themselves. Have I less than I hoped for? Well, perhaps I hoped for more than I ought. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-03 • 2 minutes
500. Treat fools like fools, don't get angry with them
It makes no sense to get angry with children or non-human animals, because they can't reason. So why get angry with an adult who has temporarily lost the use of reason? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Dec-02 • 2 minutes
499. The futility of revenge
Revenge takes up much time, and throws itself in the way of many injuries while it is smarting under one. We all retain our anger longer than we feel our hurt. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-29 • 2 minutes
498. Understand and forgive
Let us  be more gentle one to another: we are bad people, living among bad people. There is only one thing which can afford us peace, and that is to agree to forgive one another. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-27 • 3 minutes
497. I have entrusted the guidance of my life to reason
Say to fortune: Do what you will, you are too feeble to disturb my serenity: this is forbidden by reason, to whom I have entrusted the guidance of my life: to become angry would do me more harm than your violence can do me. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-26 • 3 minutes
496. On magnanimity
Seneca runs us through a long list of reasons why people do us wrong. And then concludes that we should be magnanimous, not vengeful, toward them, in part because they are human beings like us, and like us they make mistakes. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-25 • 2 minutes
495. Act the opposite of anger
Let us replace all of anger’s symptoms by their opposites; let us make our countenance more composed than usual, our voice milder, our step slower. Our inward thoughts gradually become influenced by our outward demeanor. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-22 • 2 minutes
494. Abstain from action when under the spell of anger
While you are angry, you ought not to be allowed to do anything. Why?, do you ask? Because when you are angry there is nothing that you do not wish to be allowed to do. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-21 • 3 minutes
493. Humor, not anger
It is said that Socrates when he was given a box on the ear, merely said that it was a pity a man could not tell when he ought to wear his helmet out walking. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-20 • 3 minutes
492. Practical steps to curb your anger
Do something that relaxes you, change your environment to make it soothing, and most importantly don't engage in anything major if you are tired, stressed, or hungry. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-19 • 3 minutes
491. Be careful with the company you keep
We should live with the quietest and easiest-tempered persons, not with anxious or with sullen ones: for our own habits are copied from those with whom we associate. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-18 • 3 minutes
490. Anger betrays what is best in humanity
Anger pays a penalty at the same moment that it exacts one: it forswears human feelings. The latter urge us to love, anger urges us to hatred: the latter bid us do good, anger bids us do harm. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-15 • 3 minutes
489. The difference between anger and other negative emotions
Other vices affect our judgment, anger affects our sanity. Its intensity is in no way regulated by its origin: for it rises to the greatest heights from the most trivial beginnings. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-14 • 2 minutes
488. The awful things we do when angered
Men, frantic with rage, call upon heaven to slay their children, to reduce themselves to poverty, and to ruin their houses, and yet declare that they are not either angry or insane. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-13 • 3 minutes
487. It takes two to have a fight
If anyone is angry with you, meet their anger by returning benefits for it: a quarrel which is only taken up on one side falls to the ground: it takes two people to fight. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-12 • 2 minutes
486. On revenge and retaliation
Revenge and retaliation are words which men use and even think to be righteous, yet they do not greatly differ from wrong-doing. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-11 • 3 minutes
485. Think of everything, expect everything
People think some things unjust because they ought not to suffer them, and some because they did not expect to suffer them: we think what is unexpected is beneath our deserts. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-08 • 3 minutes
484. Don't rush to judgment, give time to reason to do its work
Is it a good person who has wronged you? Do not believe it. Is it a bad one? Do not be surprised at this; by their sin they have already punished themselves. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-07 • 3 minutes
483. We have other people’s vices before our eyes, and our own behind our backs
Someone will be said to have spoken ill of you; think whether you did not first speak ill of them; think of how many persons you have yourself spoken ill. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-06 • 3 minutes
482. It is foolish to be angry at your computer
We are so foolish that we actually get angry at inanimate objects, who neither deserve nor feel our anger. But in fact, no one deserves our anger: not animals, not children, and not even adults. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-05 • 2 minutes
481. Fake anger vs real anger
Often the pretense of passion will do what the passion itself could not have done. Sometimes, it may be effective to fake anger. Just don't make the mistake of actually becoming angry. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-04 • 3 minutes
480. Reason and goodness are candles in the dark
We need a long-breathed struggle against permanent and prolific evils; not, indeed, to quell them, but merely to prevent their overpowering us. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Nov-01 • 2 minutes
479. Forgiveness first and foremost
To avoid being angry with individuals, you must pardon the whole mass, you must grant forgiveness to the entire human race. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-31 • 3 minutes
478. The nature of emotions
The Stoics’ opinion is that anger can venture upon nothing by itself, without the approval of mind. It follows that we are in charge, not whatever circumstances happen to trigger our initial reactions. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-30 • 2 minutes
477. The difference between reason and anger
Reason wishes to give a just decision; anger wishes its decision to be thought just. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-29 • 2 minutes
476. Anger is not a weapon, it's a liability
Seneca uses Aristotle's own analogy between negative emotions and weapons to show that it is flawed: we control our weapons, but destructive emotions control us. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-28 • 2 minutes
475. A good judge condemns wrongful acts, but does not hate them
People who do wrong should be treated like sick patients. By all means, restrain them if they are liable to hurt others. But do not be angry with them. They need help. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-25 • 2 minutes
474. Don't be angry, be useful
When someone is wandering about our city because they have lost their way, it is better to place then on the right path than to drive them away. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-24 • 3 minutes
473. Anger is like drunkenness, it doesn't help
Seneca responds somewhat sarcastically to the Aristotelian suggestion that a bit of anger is good because it makes soldiers more willing to fight. So does being drunk, but no general would want a drunken army. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-23 • 2 minutes
472. Why are love and a sense of justice not enough?
Defenders of the right to be angry say that we should be angered by injustice. But why is it that positive emotions, like love, concern for others, and a well developed sense of justice, aren't enough? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-22 • 3 minutes
471. The three movements of anger
The best plan is to reject straightway the first incentives to anger, to resist its very beginnings, and to take care not to be betrayed into it: for if once it begins to carry us away, it is hard to get back again into a healthy condition. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-21 • 3 minutes
470. Anger is a short madness
Anger is very like a falling rock which breaks itself to pieces upon the very thing which it crushes. That you may know that they whom anger possesses are not sane, look at their appearance. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-18 • 2 minutes
469. Receive wealth or prosperity without arrogance; and be ready to let it go
Stoics have no problem with wealth. We are not Cynics, after all. So long as it is not ill-gotten, or ill-used, it represents yet another preferred indifferent, yet another occasion to exercise virtue. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-17 • 3 minutes
468. The difference between impressions and assent
An eye, when open, has no option but to see. The decision whether to look at a particular man’s wife, however, and how, belongs to the will. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-16 • 2 minutes
467. Begin to reckon age, not by years, but by virtues
To have lived 60 years, or 70, or 100 is an interesting factoid, but the real question is: have you lived well? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-15 • 3 minutes
466. No one dies too soon
Unless you believe in miracles, you agree that events are regulated by cause and effect. In which case the notion that someone dies "too soon" is highly problematic. Not just metaphysically, but for your own mental well being. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-14 • 3 minutes
465. Go through life like a traveler stopping at an inn
Life is short, and we should thread lightly, mindful of the fact that it is up to us to leave the place in good conditions, so that the next travelers will enjoy it as much as we did. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-11 • 3 minutes
464. Sometimes people live too long for their own good
If sickness had carried off that glory and support of the empire Gnaeus Pompeius, at Naples, he would have died the undoubted head of the Roman people, but as it was, a short extension of time cast him down from his pinnacle of fame. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-10 • 3 minutes
463. On the nature of death
If anyone pities the dead, he ought also to pity those who have not been born. Death is neither a good nor a bad thing, for that alone which is something can be a good or a bad thing. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-07 • 3 minutes
462. Do not fear the netherworld, don't listen to the fantasies of poets and priests
He who dies need fear no darkness, no prison, no blazing streams of fire, no river of Lethe, no judgment seat before which he must appear, and that Death is such utter freedom that he need fear no more despots. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-04 • 2 minutes
461. Nature is fair in her bargains
Whenever we decide to do something, we enter in a bargain with the cosmic web of cause-effect. The decision and effort is up to us, the outcome not so. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-03 • 3 minutes
460. The common lot of mortals
Every time we lose a loved one it means that we have, in fact, loved. So we should not be resentful for what the universe has taken, but rather thankful for what it has given. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-02 • 3 minutes
459. Women are just as capable as men of achieving eudaimonia
Believe me -- says Seneca to Marcia -- [women] have the same intellectual power as men, and the same capacity for honorable and generous action. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Oct-01 • 3 minutes
458. Which is the better lot, to be happy for a short time or not at all?
Seneca reminds his friend Marcia, who had lost a son a couple of years later, that it is better to be thankful for what she had, rather than resentful for what she has lost. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-30 • 3 minutes
457. No regrets, only thankfulness
Everything we think we have is actually on loan from the universe, so to speak, and we need to be ready to give it back whenever the universe recalls the loan, no matter in what form it does it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-27 • 3 minutes
456. Pay attention to the setbacks of others
One way to prepare for setbacks in life is to pay attention when they happen to others. We are not exceptions to the fabric of the universe, we are an integral part of it. What happens to others may or will happen to us. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-26 • 2 minutes
455. Reasonable vs unreasonable grief
Feeling grief and sorrow at the loss of a loved one is natural and inevitable. Dwelling on it to the point of becoming paralyzed and not being able to resume an active role in society is something we need to avoid. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-25 • 3 minutes
454. Everyone is a good pilot if the weather is fair
In consoling Marcia, Seneca reminds her that one's virtue is on display when the universe challenges with adversity, not when life glides easily with a favoring current. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-24 • 3 minutes
453. Challenging the cognitive component of our emotions
Our feelings may end up feeding upon their own bitterness, until the unhappy mind takes a morbid delight in grief. But we can challenge the cognitive component of our own emotions and move forward. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-23 • 3 minutes
452. The path to a life worth living
Stoicism leads us to a life of benevolence toward other human beings, in pursuit of a constant refinement of our  judgments and understanding of how the world actually works — so that we can more effectively live in it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-20 • 3 minutes
451. The first rule of Stoic Club
Plato said that "every soul is deprived of the truth against its will." Which means that we need to treat people who make mistakes with sympathy, not criticize and dismiss them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-19 • 3 minutes
450. Stoic epistemology and humility about knowledge
Cicero's reports a famous metaphor used by Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism, to explain the progression from perception to assent to comprehension to knowledge. Which is then used as a reminder about the limits of our own knowledge. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-18 • 3 minutes
449. Chrysippus on the various philosophies of life
According to Chrysippus, when it's all said and done, there are only three conceptions of the chief good for human beings. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-17 • 3 minutes
448. Aristo, the Stoic dissenter
Aristo of Chios disagreed with the founder of Stoicism, Zeno of Citium, in pretty fundamental ways. A powerful reminder that Stoic philosophy isn't written in stone, and never was. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-15 • 3 minutes
447. Always challenge your impressions
The basic Stoic psychological account of our desires and actions is a powerful guide to willfully change our behavior for the better. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-13 • 3 minutes
446. Panaetius, the dissident Stoic
Let's learn why the middle-Stoic Panaetius disagreed on a major point of "physics" with the early Stoics: he didn't believe in divination! | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-12 • 3 minutes
445. Skeptics vs Stoics
The Academic Skeptics were one of the major rival schools to Stoicism. Yet, on the nature of human knowledge, and on what it means in practice, for everyday living, the two philosophies were not very far apart. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-11 • 3 minutes
444. Chrysippus and the logic of paradoxes
If you have some sand and you start adding grains, when do you have a heap? Chrysippus' answer to this sort of paradox will leave logicians frustrated and the rest of us with something to think about. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-10 • 3 minutes
443. Ignorance, knowledge, and things in between
The wisest approach is to not commit to opinions until we have strong evidence in their favor, or to hold opinions very lightly, and not attach our ego to them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-09 • 3 minutes
442. Stoic materialism
The Stoics are materialists, in the sense that they believe that anything that has causal powers must be made of stuff, whatever that stuff turns out to be. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-06 • 4 minutes
441. Four interesting Stoic doctrines
Virtue can only be perfected by reason; all virtues are really just one, namely, wisdom; virtue is intrinsically good; and one needs to continuously practice in order to be virtuous. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-05 • 4 minutes
440. What Zeno said
Zeno of Citium, the founder of the Stoic sect, says that there are three sets of things in the world: virtue, things according or contra to nature, and neutral things. From which a solid moral compass for everyday living follows. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-04 • 3 minutes
439. The importance of Socrates
Socrates was the first to draw philosophy away from matters of an abstruse character, in which all the philosophers before his time had been wholly occupied, and to have diverted it to the objects of ordinary life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-03 • 3 minutes
438. The consolations of philosophy
Cicero begins his treatise Academica by seeking a medicine for his sorrows in philosophy. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Sep-02 • 3 minutes
437. Gods or atoms, you should blame no one
Blame is not a Stoic thing. We bear responsibility for what we do, of course, but to blame people isn’t particularly useful. As Marcus Aurelius says, teach them, if you can, or bear with them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-30 • 3 minutes
436. The problem with Paris (not the city)
Paris stole Menelaus' wife, Helen, thereby starting the Trojan War. He did that because he assented to the impression that it was good to pursue the wife of his host, and that misjudgment resulted in ten years of misery for so many. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-29 • 3 minutes
435. That which is according to nature is the beginning of the good
And what is this Good? I shall tell you: it is a free mind, an upright mind, subjecting other things to itself and itself to nothing. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-28 • 3 minutes
434. Stoics vs Epicureans
Avoiding pain and seeking pleasure comes natural to human beings. But, so argue the Stoics, being prosocial is even more fundamental to our nature as social animals. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-27 • 3 minutes
433. Bad thoughts are like catchy tunes
Just like a catchy tune won't leave your mind easily, once it has gained access, so with thoughts of unvirtuous actions. So don't grant them entrance in the first place. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-23 • 3 minutes
432. Stoicism is not good for consumerism
How many things are superfluous; we merely used them not because we needed them, but because we had them. How much do we acquire simply because our neighbors have acquired such things, or because most people possess them! | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-22 • 3 minutes
431. How to tell a Stoic
Finding yourself at a party and want to know if someone else is practicing Stoicism? Ask them what they think is the chief good and the chief bad.  | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-21 • 3 minutes
430. The right attitude about the world
To have whatsoever they wish is not in people's power; it is in their power not to wish for what they have not, but cheerfully to employ what comes to them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-20 • 3 minutes
429. Everything tastes good if you are hungry
“Bad bread!” you say. But just wait for it; it will become good. Hunger will make even such bread delicate and of the finest flavor. And the same goes for any other external thing, whether a necessity or a luxury. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-19 • 3 minutes
428. Anger is a self inflicted wound
Nothing need provoke our anger if we do not add to our pile of troubles by getting angry. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-16 • 3 minutes
427. A simple way to go right, many ways to go wrong
It's relatively easy to stay on the right track by following simple methods, but there are countless ways to go wrong if we don't pay attention. Here are three basic rules from Stoic philosophy to keep your life on the right track. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-15 • 3 minutes
426. The balance between inner and outer resources
How do we strike a good balance between cultivating externals, like wealth, and focusing on the improvement of our own character? Different philosophical schools gave different answers to this question. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-14 • 3 minutes
425. Ethics and human nature
Philosophers have debated for millennia the nature of ethics. Is it arbitrary? Or are there universal moral laws that we can apprehend through reason? Neither, say the Stoics. Theirs is a thoroughly naturalistic philosophy. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-13 • 3 minutes
424. What the virtues are for
Desires have to be reined in, fear to be suppressed, proper actions to be arranged, debts to be paid; we therefore include self-restraint, bravery, prudence, and justice among the virtues – assigning to each quality its special function. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-12 • 3 minutes
423. The difference may be subtle
There are, as you know, vices which are next-door to virtues. Carelessness looks like ease, and rashness like bravery. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-09 • 3 minutes
422. Of friendship, dogs, and meat thrown in the middle
No doubt you have seen dogs playing with, and fawning before, each other, and thought, ‘Nothing could be friendlier.’ But just throw some meat in the middle, and then you’ll know what friendship amounts to. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-08 • 3 minutes
421. The analogy between physical and mental health
The Stoics understood what bodily health is, and from that they deduced the existence of a certain mental health also. They knew about bodily strength, and from that they inferred the existence of mental sturdiness. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-07 • 3 minutes
420. Nothing is good which can be put to wrong use by any person
The Stoics regard nothing as good which can be put to wrong use by any person. And we can all see for ourselves to what wrong uses many people put their riches, their high position, or their physical powers. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-06 • 3 minutes
419. The difference separating Aristotelians, Stoics, and Cynics
Externals — such as money, possessions, and the like — are how we exercise our virtue, which cannot be expressed in a vacuum. And one of the four cardinal virtues is temperance. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-05 • 3 minutes
418. Where's your stopping point?
He who has much, desires more – a proof that he has not yet acquired enough; but he who has enough has attained that which never fell to the rich man’s lot – a stopping-point. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-02 • 2 minutes
417. Three disciplines to live a better life
In order to live a meaningful life (ethics) we need to reason well about things (logic), and we need to have a good grasp of how the world works (science). How are your logic and science, then? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Aug-01 • 3 minutes
416. A starving man despises nothing
We take a lot of things for granted, when life is going well for us. But — fools that we are — we really appreciate what we had only once we’ve lost it. That's why the Stoics devised a series of exercises in mild self-deprivation. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-31 • 3 minutes
415. Are you conducting yourself virtuously in your profession?
Here is a basic Stoic equation: external thing or activity + virtue = good, while its opposite is: external thing or activity + vice = bad. So, is your profession good or bad, according to this approach? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-30 • 2 minutes
414. The hedonic treadmill will not make you happy
People think that externals are good, and then, after having won their wish, and suffered much, they find them evil, or empty, or less important than they had expected. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-29 • 3 minutes
413. Fortune, I ask no favors of you
Fortune sometimes favors villains and turns against good people. That's why our happiness should depend on our own decisions, not the vagaries of chance. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-26 • 3 minutes
412. The playthings of children and the shackles of adults
External goods like fine clothing, gourmet food, and nice houses ought to be regarded as the playthings of children, not the shackles of adults. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-25 • 3 minutes
411. The importance of not wasting time
Nature has not given us such a generous and free-handed space of time that we can have the leisure to waste any of it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-24 • 3 minutes
410. The value of money, beauty, and high social position
The Stoic concept of preferred and dispreferred indifferents always gets people confused or, the other common human response to lack of understanding, scoffing. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-23 • 2 minutes
409. Rationalizing is not the same thing as reasoning
We are in love with our vices; we uphold them and prefer to make excuses for them rather than shake them off. The reason is unwillingness, the excuse, inability. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-19 • 3 minutes
408. How to tell whether you have achieved wisdom
Do you find yourself in the thralls of fear, jealousy, or anger? Do you act inconsistently in life? Then you ain't wise yet. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-18 • 3 minutes
407. Negative emotions are diseases, they are not good even in small measure
One of the major differences between Stoics and Aristotelians has always been the treatment of disruptive emotions, such as anger and fear. They are helpful, in small measure, for Aristotle, but definitely to avoid for the Stoics. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-17 • 3 minutes
406. The true value of things
We have become alternately merchants and merchandise, and we ask, not what a thing truly is, but what it costs. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-16 • 3 minutes
405. Are you a slave, a fool, or what?
From the point of view of someone who has managed to overcome his attachment for externals, people going after riches and luxuries look like fools. Are you one of them? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-11 • 2 minutes
404. The problem with fame, wealth and power
Seneca reminds us that in the time of Nero - just like today - famous, rich and powerful people are hiding much evil under a thin coating of titles. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-10 • 3 minutes
403. The problem with excessive wealth
Seneca, who knew a thing or two about wealth, warns us about pursuing it. A mind that revels in luxury, he says, is a mind that has lost its balance. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-09 • 3 minutes
402. Why are you doing what you are doing?
Seneca reminds us that striving to be a better person is an end in itself, not to be pursued in order to boast to others of our accomplishments. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-08 • 3 minutes
401. What brought down Alexander the Great
Seneca reminds us that Alexander the Great conquered everything, except his own destructive emotions, which led to endless grief for him and his friends. Beware, therefore, of reacting in anger to your problems. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-05 • 3 minutes
400. Who's got the time?
Doesn't it take time to practice Stoicism? We are all so busy! Here is Marcus Aurelius' response to that question. A response that applies also if you are a Christian, or a Buddhist, among other things. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-04 • 3 minutes
399. What's the difference between useful and useless?
Epictetus argues that things are useless or useful not in themselves, but as a result of what we do with them. As usual in Stoicism, the answer comes from within, from our own attitudes toward things. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-03 • 3 minutes
398. The definition of courage
Seneca explains that courage has little to do with rushing into battle to face an enemy. It's about how we handle the good and the bad that Fortuna throws our way. Also, wanna play ball with Socrates? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-02 • 3 minutes
397. What are we talking about, and why?
Human beings have an unparalleled ability to communicate with each other. And yet, Seneca suggests, much of the time we talk about things that are neither improving ourselves, nor making the world a better place. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jul-01 • 2 minutes
396. On the vanity of mental gymnastics
Philosophers can be clever. Too clever for their own sake, suggests Seneca. Indeed, one measure of wisdom is precisely the ability to tell the difference between cleverness and usefulness. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jun-28 • 2 minutes
395. Have you changed your mind yet?
Epictetus bluntly tells us that if we have not been affected by philosophy and have not changed our mind about something important as a result of it, we are simply playing a game. So, has philosophy changed your mind yet? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jun-27 • 2 minutes
394. Have you taken the easy step yet?
Seneca says that being able to do without luxuries is but a small and easy step toward virtue. And yet so many of us have much trouble taking that  step. Have you? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jun-26 • 3 minutes
393. The difference between thinking and worrying
Seneca advises Lucilius to think, but not to worry, about the future. It is reasonable to plan for things to come and to act in the best way possible. So long as we don't delude ourselves into thinking that we actually control outcomes. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jun-24 • 3 minutes
392. In a little time you will be like Hadrian and Augustus
Marcus Aurelius takes the long view of things in order to remind himself that whatever troubles us so much right now will soon be over, one way or another. This isn't nihilism, but rather the conscious adoption of a healthier perspective on human affairs. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jun-21 • 2 minutes
391. Pick your virtue buddy
Think of practicing philosophy as going to the gym: sure, you can do a lot on your own. But if you choose a good partner to keep you focused on the task, you'll see more steady improvement. So, who's your virtue buddy? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jun-20 • 3 minutes
390. Thus the study of wisdom has become the study of words
Seneca says that some people are interested in studying philosophy not to improve their souls, but to sharpen their wits. Time to reflect on what, exactly, we are doing and why. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jun-19 • 3 minutes
389. Consider vegetarianism
Seneca says that we have enough sustenance without resorting to blood, and that a habit of cruelty is formed whenever butchery is practiced for pleasure. Something to meditate on a bit. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jun-18 • 3 minutes
388. On the best way to resist temptation
Seneca and Epictetus agree: the best way to resist temptation is to avoid it altogether, because it's hard to practice temperance, at least initially. Modern cognitive science agrees. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jun-17 • 3 minutes
387. The fortune of everyone is molded by their character
Cicero explains a classic Stoic paradox: only the wise person is free, while everyone else is a slave. To what? To externals that they think are indispensable for their happiness, and yet lay outside of their control. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jun-14 • 3 minutes
386. The true hearer is ravished and stirred by the beauty of the subject matter, not by the jingle of empty words
Seneca briefly tells us both how to approach philosophy, and how not to. Are you a passive consumer of the stuff, or are you looking to become a better human being? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jun-13 • 3 minutes
385. Philosophy rubs off of you
Seneca says that associating ourselves with a philosopher we cannot help but learning something that may change our lives. So today try to get a friend or relative into philosophy. You'll be doing some good for the whole human cosmopolis. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jun-12 • 3 minutes
384. That which you cannot reform, it is best to endure
Is Stoicism about going through life with a stiff upper lip? No, but enduring what cannot be changed is part of the philosophy. Modern Stoic Larry Becker called it the "axiom of futility." | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jun-11 • 3 minutes
383. No matter what trouble you mention, it has happened to many
Seneca reminds us that, regardless of how terrible a problem or event appears to be right now, plenty of others have gone through something similar before. They can be an inspiration to us to overcome whatever is happening in the same way. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jun-07 • 3 minutes
382. What illusion about myself do I entertain?
Without knowing about modern psychological research, Epictetus figured out that we all too easily fool ourselves. Here are three Stoic techniques to at least partially remedy the problem. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jun-06 • 3 minutes
381. What things you can be robbed of, and what things you can't
Cicero explains that we may lose any external good, because it isn't truly ours, but rather on loan from the universe. However, our judgments, considered opinions, and consciously embraced values are truly ours and cannot be taken away. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jun-05 • 3 minutes
380. How to do a premeditation of adversity
Seneca talks about the premeditatio malorum, an exercise that allows us to be mentally prepared for possible negative outcomes of our action. The key to it is to engage your reasoning faculty, not your emotional reactions. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jun-04 • 3 minutes
379. Life is like a journey: some things that you don't like will be thrown at you
Seneca uses a metaphor of life as a journey, or as a trip to the thermal baths, to make the point that obstacles will be thrown our way, either on purpose or by accident. The question is: how do we deal with them? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jun-03 • 3 minutes
378. "Busyness" is no proof of happiness
Seneca anticipates modern social psychological research in arguing that keeping oneself busy for the sake of being busy does not lead to happiness. On the contrary. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-31 • 3 minutes
377. People will do the same things even though you would burst with rage
Marcus Aurelius joins Seneca in his rejection of anger as a valid or effective motivator of human action. We should, instead, be moved to act by positive triggers, such as a sense of justice, or duty, or love. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-30 • 3 minutes
376. The most important contribution to peace of mind is never to do wrong
Seneca explains why not doing wrong is your best bet toward achieving serenity of mind. Of course, it's also the virtuous thing to do. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-29 • 2 minutes
375. What goads people into destroying other people?
Seneca gives a disturbing list of reasons why we kill each other. Most of them are precisely the kind of negative emotions that Stoic training is attempting to move away from. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-28 • 3 minutes
374. No need to be Cato in order to practice virtue
Seneca discusses the grand example of Cato the Younger, his favorite role model. But even in ordinary life we can be courageous and just, if we pay attention to what we are doing and why. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-24 • 3 minutes
373. The answer is always going to be "it depends"
Cicero reminds us that in virtue ethics the answer to moral questions is always going to depend on circumstances, a striking contrast with modern - and arguably less useful - universalist frameworks like deontology and consequentialism. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-23 • 3 minutes
372. Spend some time with Zeno and Socrates instead
Want to become a better person? Forget about traveling, since you will bring with you the same problems you are trying to flee. Read a good book instead, enter in conversation with the best minds humanity has produced across time. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-22 • 3 minutes
371. The problem is that you are travelling with your emotions and are followed by your afflictions
Seneca continues his analysis of the relationship between traveling and self-improvement. While there are good reasons to travel (leisure and learning), self-improvement isn't one of them, because that requires critical reflection, wherever one happens to be. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-21 • 3 minutes
370. If you travel in order to escape yourself, don't
As Socrates said to someone who was complaining that traveling brought him no benefits: "It serves you right! You travelled in your own company!" | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-20 • 2 minutes
369. We must suffer for the sake of those we love
Seneca dispels the stereotype of Stoics going through life with a stiff upper lip by explicitly advocating suffering for those we love. What marks the Stoic is not that she doesn't suffer, but how she handles suffering. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-17 • 3 minutes
368. Theory is fine, but useless if you don't practice
Epictetus complains about something that hasn't changed much in two millennia: people who are happy to discuss the fine logical points of ethical dilemmas, but are apparently not that interested in becoming better human beings. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-16 • 3 minutes
367. Remember what you should offer and what you should withhold
Seneca reminds us how to behave with fellow human beings, but also that, from a Stoic perspective, what is and is not to be valued (one's good and bad judgments) is not quite what most people value, focused as they often are on externals. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-15 • 3 minutes
366. Humanity is what it is, not what we would like it to be
Seneca reminds us that our fellow human beings aren't always trustworthy or well intentioned. Nevertheless, we have a duty to treat others, and ourselves, with forgiveness, to be helpful when we can, and to endure when we cannot. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-14 • 3 minutes
365. Your role model may be closer than you think
In which I compare my adoptive grandfather to Cato the Younger. Not because he fought battles against tyrants, but because he was a decent and kind human being. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-13 • 3 minutes
364. Virtue is all-or-nothing, and yet, we can make progress
Cicero talks about one of the classic Stoic paradoxes: virtue is all-or-nothing, and yet one can make progress toward it. How is this possible? In this episode we explain, by way of a geometrical analogy. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-10 • 3 minutes
363. Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do
Marcus Aurelius argues that when we do something right we shouldn't expect either recognition or a return. Otherwise, we are doing the right thing for the wrong reason. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-09 • 3 minutes
362. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s account every day.
Seneca reminds us that we do not actually know when "the remorseless law of Fate" has fixed the time of our death. Therefore, we should prioritize what's important, postpone nothing, and balance our life’s account every day. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-08 • 3 minutes
361. No sensation of evil can reach one who is dead
Seneca agrees with Epicurus: there is no sense in fearing what happens after death, since we won't be there to experience it. Therefore, we should not allow religious and political authorities to manipulate us through that fear. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-07 • 3 minutes
360. Not feeling pain would make us inhuman, not sages
Seneca talks to his friend Lucilius about how to console the bereaved, dispelling the stereotype of Stoics as individuals who go through life with a stiff upper lip. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-06 • 2 minutes
359. The universe is morally neutral
Seneca says that good and evil are not in the world per se, but in our judgments about the world, and the actions we take as a consequence of those judgments. Which is why training ourselves to arrive at better judgments is so crucial. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-03 • 3 minutes
358. Challenge your impressions, don't "just do it"
Epictetus tells us about a fundamental Stoic technique: never act on first impressions and implied judgments. Always pause, challenge your impressions, make the judgments explicit, and see whether they were on target or not. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-02 • 3 minutes
357. The view from above, Seneca style
Here is Seneca's version of an exercise most often associated with Marcus Aurelius: when you feel overwhelmed by your problems, take a minute to consider a broader perspective. When your mind is calmer, come back to earth and tackle the problems. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-May-01 • 3 minutes
356. What ought to be done must be learned from one who does it
Seneca suggests we pick a role model to help us become better persons. This ancient practice actually gets some empirical confirmation from modern psychology. So, who's your model, and why? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-30 • 4 minutes
355. If someone can withstand fire or exile, surely you can overcome something...
Seneca lists an impressive gallery of ancient Roman role models, who have done brave things to safeguard their ideals. Surely, then, we can find the courage to overcome our comparatively small problems in everyday life, no? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-29 • 3 minutes
354. Don't suffer before it is necessary
Seneca reminds us that the future is not under our control, and that the best way to prepare for it is to act here and now, where we actually have causal efficacy. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-26 • 2 minutes
353. The skill of the pilot is independent of the value of the cargo
Cicero uses a metaphor involving ship pilots and their cargo to remind us that a more or less valuable "cargo" doesn't make us better or worse "pilots." It is our skills, that is our virtue, that make the difference. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-25 • 3 minutes
352. The universe is morally neutral
Seneca, differing from Epictetus in a metaphysical sense, says that the universe is - as we would put it - morally neutral to us. What matters, then, is how we handle so-called "good" and "bad" things. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-24 • 3 minutes
351. A long life is like a long journey: there is bound to be rain and mud on the way
Seneca uses a colorful analogy between life and a journey. Sure, we'd like to live longer, but when the journey is longer a number of unpleasant things are bound to happen, like rain and mud. Just bring good gear with you for the trip. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-23 • 3 minutes
350. Want to be alive? Pay the taxes of life
Seneca uses an interesting economic analogy to remind us that the privilege of being alive comes with the tax of suffering setbacks and losses. Understanding this helps us to cope with problems and even to look forward to them as further exercises in virtue. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-22 • 4 minutes
349. Expand your circles of concern
Seneca says that it is natural for us to be virtuous. Modern scientists say that it is natural for us to be prosocial. Either way, it is reason that allows us to expand our instinctive circles of ethical concern. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-19 • 2 minutes
348. It's far easier to change yourself than others
Marcus Aurelius reminds us that we spend far too much time trying to change other people, which is outside of our control, and too little time attempting to improve ourselves, which we certainly have the power to do. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-18 • 3 minutes
347. The problem with expensive meals
Seneca echoes the advice of Musonius Rufus when he says that we don't need to pay for extravagant meals with ingredients brought from all over the world. Every time we sit at the table to eat we have a chance to exercise temperance. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-17 • 2 minutes
346. We should prosecute our politicians and generals
Continuing his criticism of the state's war machine, Seneca exhorts us to prosecute our politicians and generals for the crimes they commit in our own name. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-16 • 1 minutes
345. Seneca on war as human folly
Seneca writes words about the foolishness of war that were surprisingly modern for his time, and unfortunately very much still pertinent to us today. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-15 • 3 minutes
344. A surprisingly difficult simple precept
Seneca tells us something that may appear to be a no-brainer, and yet is difficult to apply: never believe that you can be happy through the unhappiness of another. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-12 • 3 minutes
343. Happiness is an inside job
Cicero reminds us that happiness - meaning our satisfaction with our own life - is guaranteed if we don't hitch it to external events, but only to our own reasoned judgments. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-11 • 3 minutes
342. The proximity of good people is good for you
Seneca reminds us that it is important to associate with good people. Their goodness is both an inspiration and a guide to make ourselves better human beings. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-10 • 3 minutes
341. Repetition is useful
Seneca says that we should remind ourselves of things we know, because all too often we don't pay attention to them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-09 • 3 minutes
340. Approach your life all things considered
Modern Stoic Larry Becker, building on Seneca, advises us to approach the problems we encounter not one at a time, but within the context of our life treated as a whole dynamic project. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-08 • 3 minutes
339. Seneca agrees with Ricky Gervais on the afterlife and the meaning of existence
Seneca points out that it doesn't matter if there is no continuation of life after death. Just like British comedian Ricky Gervais did recently in his series, aptly entitled "After Life." | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-05 • 3 minutes
338. Cut off anger at its inception
Epictetus treats anger as an addiction: we should suppress the urge as soon as we begin to feel it, and celebrate the days we have managed to stay away from this temporary madness. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-04 • 3 minutes
337. How long you live is not up to you, how you live is
Seneca uses the dichotomy of control to get us to move away from our obsession with living longer, and toward paying attention to living better. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-03 • 3 minutes
336. Marcus Regulus and the hard core of Stoicism
A good Stoic can be "happy" even on the rack. This phrase happened to be true in the case of the Roman general Marcus Regulus. And his story is worth pondering to see that we can be helpful and find meaning in so many small ways. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-02 • 3 minutes
335. Virtue is like the sun behind a cloud
Seneca says that when negative developments affect our lives, virtue is like the sun behind a cloud: it keeps shining, and eventually dissipates the clouds. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Apr-01 • 3 minutes
334. The fanciness of your scabbard says nothing about the effectiveness of your sword
Seneca uses the analogy of a scabbard and a sword to remind us that external goods, like wealth or health, are indeed preferable, but only in a limited fashion. What's truly important is the shape of our character. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-29 • 3 minutes
333. What does it mean to live every day as if it were your last?
Marcus Aurelius advises us to live by avoiding both violent emotions and torpor, and by not being a hypocrite. But also, to treat every day as if it were our last. What does that mean? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-28 • 3 minutes
332. The importance of sound judgment
Seneca provides a very clear explanation of the Stoic distinction between virtue and external things, leading to the surprising conclusion that even health is not an unquestionable good. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-27 • 3 minutes
331. How to achieve serenity
Seneca talks about a major "side effect," so to speak, of the Stoic stance: achieving tranquillity of mind through the development of an attitude of equanimity. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-26 • 3 minutes
330. Virtue is the only good, naturally
Cicero asserts the standard, and apparently paradoxical, Stoic position that virtue is the onyl true good. Let's see why. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-25 • 3 minutes
329. Be aware of what you can and cannot change
Seneca says that Nature does not discriminate, it hands out suffering and death to everyone, eventually. But we can still make our life better by developing equanimity toward what we cannot change while trying to change what we can. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-22 • 3 minutes
328. How to shape your character
Epictetus reminds us that character is a matter of habit. Willfully change your habits, and you will be on your way toward becoming a better human being. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-21 • 3 minutes
327. Welcoming Cicero to our line up
This episode features our first discussion of Cicero. While not a Stoic (he considered himself an Academic Skeptic), he was sympathetic to Stoic philosophy, and frequently borrowed from it to create his own eclectic blend of moral philosophy. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-20 • 3 minutes
326. These are your choices
Seneca, building on the Stoic concept of universal causation, reminds us that we don't get to say how the universe works. Our only choices are to accept it (and work within it), or take "the open door," as Epictetus puts it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-19 • 4 minutes
325. Can we really improve ourselves?
Seneca reminds us that although some people are naturally more virtuous than others, and that much depends on our family upbringing, we are capable of making rational decisions as adults. So make the decision to practice every day to become a better human being. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-18 • 3 minutes
324. Wisdom as a better filter to examine your life
Seneca provides us with one of the best definitions of wisdom. Let's see what it means, and how to apply it to our daily life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-15 • 3 minutes
323. Marcus Aurelius and the chocolate cake
Marcus Aurelius exhorts us to not just do it, but slow down, think about it, and then see if we really want to do it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-14 • 3 minutes
322. Stoicism and war
Seneca says it no uncertain terms: it is not wisdom that contrives arms, or walls, or instruments useful in war; nay, her voice is for peace, and she summons all mankind to concord. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-13 • 3 minutes
321. The three parts of philosophy
Seneca summarizes the reasons why to live a good life (the domain of Ethics) one has to learn how to reason well (Logic) and how to better understand the world (Physics). | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-12 • 3 minutes
320. Concern yourself with careful living
Seneca criticizes the tendency of some philosophers to spend a lot of time trying to develop more careful ways of speaking, at the expense of figuring out more careful ways of living. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-11 • 3 minutes
319. Here's your top priority in life
Seneca says that it causes far too much discomfort to the ears of others to be recognized as a learned person. Better for us and everyone else to be recognized as a good person. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-08 • 3 minutes
318. In order to learn something new you need to forget what you think you already know
Epictetus advises his students, and all of us, to drop our preconceptions and actually open our minds to new notions. Try to practice that the next time you engage in a "conversation" on social media. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-07 • 3 minutes
317. Seneca criticizes the institution of war
In a rather forceful passage Seneca makes a strong political statement, referring to Roman imperialism as "sacrilege on a grand scale." Unfortunately, two millennia later, we still honor that sort of sacrilege, which flies in the face of the virtue of justice and the concept of cosmopolitanism. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-06 • 3 minutes
316. Wealth doesn't make you a better person
Seneca constructs another logical argument to make the point that wealth is not an intrinsic good. Rather, it is how it is used that can be good or bad. Know any virtuous billionaires, by chance? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-05 • 3 minutes
315. Chance events are not good for you
Seneca builds a simple argument to show that random events, like winning a lottery, are actually not good for you, despite appearances to the contrary. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-04 • 3 minutes
314. Much of what we have is superfluous
Seneca says that his life's journey taught him that much of what we possess is superfluous, and indeed positively gets in the way of living a good life. He ought to know, as we discuss in this episode. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Mar-01 • 3 minutes
313. When to care, or not, about other people's opinions
Marcus Aurelius reminds us that all too often we care far too much about the opinions of people we do not actually hold in high esteem. If they judge us badly according to mistaken values, the problem is theirs, not ours. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-28 • 3 minutes
312. Make your life the best it can be given the materials you are given
Seneca brings up a parallel between the life of virtue and the art of a sculptor like Phidias. Just like a good sculptor will make the best art that the materials at his disposal permit, so we can be good human beings regardless of the specific circumstances of our lives. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-27 • 3 minutes
311. Everyone is a good pilot on a calm sea
Seneca uses a sailing metaphor to remind us that hardship in life, just like a storm at sea, is what truly tests our virtue, as the storm tests the pilot's skills. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-26 • 3 minutes
310. Treat yourself as you would a sick friend
Seneca dispels the stereotype of Stoics as going through life with a stiff upper lip. Stoic training doesn't insulate us from sufferings. It gives us tools to deal with suffering. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-25 • 3 minutes
309. Moderate insanity is not a good thing
Seneca directly takes on the Peripatetics, followers of Aristotle, and criticizes their notion that virtue always lies in the middle. Some things, like insanity, or anger, are not good even in small quantities. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-22 • 3 minutes
308. Planning is more important than worrying about outcomes
Epictetus wonders why people pay attention to outcomes, which are outside of their control, and not so much to planning, which very much is under their control. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-21 • 3 minutes
307. The orchestra of your mind
Seneca draws a beautiful analogy between the harmonious sounds of an orchestra and the harmonious thinking of a well structured mind. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-20 • 3 minutes
306. If you want to understand things, write them down
Seneca suggests that we should alternate between reading and writing in order to truly understand and internalize new concepts. Which, of course, is yet another way to achieve a major goal of Stoic training: arrive at better and better judgments. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-19 • 3 minutes
305. Read books, it's good for you
Seneca gives this most sensical of advices: read books by others, especially if they disagree with you. Turns out, it's a good way to improve our judgments of things, a major goal of Stoic training. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-18 • 3 minutes
304. Pay attention to the past in order to tackle the future
Seneca reminds us that -- although we live in the here and now -- we profit from reflecting on our mistakes, so long as we do not indulge emotionally on them. Regret is not a Stoic value. Learning is. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-15 • 3 minutes
303. Life is more like wrestling than dancing
We take a look at one of the most famous metaphors in Stoicism, the notion put forth by Marcus Aurelius that life is a bit like wrestling: we need to be prepared and alert, because the next move may be unexpected. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-14 • 3 minutes
302. Too much logic is not good for your health
Seneca reminds us that logic is crucial in order to figure out how to live a good life. But logic chopping is actually deleterious to it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-13 • 3 minutes
301. Not all indifferents are created equal
Seneca reminds us that there is a difference among the so-called indifferents. Life, health, and education, for instance, are a bit more highly ranked than your favorite gelato flavor. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-12 • 3 minutes
300. The difference between Stoicism and stoicism
In our 300th episode we look at how Seneca very clearly separates Stoicism (the philosophy) from stoicism (the attitude of going through life with a stiff upper lip). | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-11 • 3 minutes
299. Be magnanimous toward others
Seneca reminds us that we should interpret other people's actions and words in a generous manner, instead of conjuring the worst possible scenario. It is, after all, the way we would like to be treated. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-08 • 3 minutes
298. Do you still need somebody to wipe your nose?
Epictetus, with his sarcastic sense of humor, reminds a student that he doesn't need to pray to deal with a bad situation. He already has all the tools he needs: courage, fortitude, and endurance. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-07 • 3 minutes
297. Virtue is its own reward
If the Pope or the Dalai Lama say that being good is its own reward, usually people take it at face value. But if a Stoic says it, they demand logical proof. Let's discuss this. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-06 • 3 minutes
296. How much are you worth?
Seneca gets to the bottom line of Stoic philosophy: If you wish to set a value on yourself, put away your money, your estates, your honors, and look into your own character. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-05 • 3 minutes
295. Get rid of fear of death and poverty
Seneca agrees with Epicurus: fear of death and poverty is crippling, and we need to work toward overcoming it.  | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-04 • 3 minutes
294. Three simple steps to live a good life
Seneca reminds us that the tools for becoming a better person are simple and inexpensive. In this episode we discuss the three basic tools of the Stoic practitioner. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Feb-01 • 3 minutes
293. Why we need to focus on our own improvement
A quote from Marcus Aurelius sounds a lot like what Ayn Rand would say. But it couldn't be further from it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-31 • 3 minutes
292. Fortuna is your sparring partner
Seneca reminds us that it may be just as difficult to deal with good fortune as with the bad variety. Regardless, everything life throws at us is an opportunity to exercise our virtue. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-30 • 3 minutes
291. Practical exercises in self-deprivation
Seneca says that doing without things for a while renews our appreciation for them. In this episode we examine five exercises in mild self-deprivation guaranteed to reset your hedonic treadmill. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-29 • 3 minutes
290. Are you sick? You can be brave about it
Seneca reminds us that courage is not just for the battlefield, but for the everyday difficulties of life, like being sick. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-28 • 3 minutes
289. Pay attention to the good parts of your life
A contemporary theory of consciousness, proposed by philosopher Jesse Prinz, recalls Seneca's treatment of the emotions, and teaches us how to avert painful thoughts by focusing on the good things that happen to us. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-25 • 2 minutes
288. Your "happiness" is up to you, really
Epictetus reminds us that the only things that are truly good or bad for us are our judgments, which are under our control. It follows that "happiness," in the sense of a life worth living, is also under our control. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-24 • 2 minutes
287. What's a good reason to endure hardship?
Seneca reminds us that athletes willingly subject themselves to harsh regimes in order to succeed. But when it comes to becoming a better person most of us think it's just too difficult. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-23 • 2 minutes
286. Turn regrets into learning opportunities
Seneca reminds us that to indulge in regret is irrational, as the past is outside of our control. That doesn't mean we can't learn from it, though. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-22 • 2 minutes
285. Everything depends on opinion
Seneca tells us that our happiness, or lack thereof, is a matter of our own opinion. No, he's not making a relativist or post-modernist argument on the nature of knowledge. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-21 • 2 minutes
284. 40 years or 10,000, makes little difference
Marcus says that once we have observed human affairs for 40 years, it's the same as having observed them for 10,000 years. Surely he is wrong? Not necessarily... | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-18 • 2 minutes
283. On the importance of friendship
The Stoics, the Epicureans, and Aristotle all agreed on one thing: friends are important. In this episode we talk about why, and how the Stoics differ from the other two schools on this topic. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-17 • 2 minutes
282. Life's a play, act well
Seneca uses a metaphor that later became famous with Shakespeare: life is like a play, so what counts is not its length, but how well we act our parts. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-16 • 2 minutes
281. The asymmetry of being dead
Seneca points out that people regret not being alive a thousand years from now, and yet are not bothered by the thought of not having been alive for the past thousand years. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-15 • 2 minutes
280. Distribute your wealth like after a banquet
Seneca recalls an ancient Roman custom according to which the host of a banquet would distribute gifts to his friends at the end. Consider doing the same after your life has ended. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-14 • 3 minutes
279. A little philosophy is a dangerous thing
Epictetus warn us that a little knowledge of philosophy, without proper guidance, can actually turn us onto even more stubborn fools than we were before. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-11 • 2 minutes
278. Every good life is complete
Seneca argues that life is not like a journey. Whenever it is interrupted it is a whole life, if we have been living it virtuously. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-10 • 2 minutes
277. A prepared mind tackles adversity better
Today's quote from Seneca is the root of the modern Stoic technique of premeditatio malorum, a meditation in which we try to get mentally prepared to tackle adversity. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-09 • 2 minutes
276. The real stature of people
Seneca uses a beautiful analogy to argue that some people may look impressive while they aren't, and other people truly are impressive and yet remain overlooked. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-08 • 2 minutes
275. Navigating between good and bad fortune
Seneca tells us that virtue is useful not just in order to handle bad fortune, but also, counter intuitively, to deal with good fortune. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-07 • 2 minutes
274. We are all going to die, but until then?
Marcus Aurelius takes for granted that death is a natural and unavoidable end. The real question is what you are going to do between now and then. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-04 • 3 minutes
273. Would you buy a car based on its color?
Seneca explains that there are certain attributes of things and people that are important, and others that are irrelevant. Somehow, we keep focusing on the irrelevant ones. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-03 • 3 minutes
272. Why virtue is the only good
In this episode we explore a quote from Seneca presenting the Stoic argument for why virtue is the only true good. And if it is, then shouldn't you pursue it above all else? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-02 • 2 minutes
271. Virtue will not fall upon you by chance
Seneca already understood two millennia ago that there is no such thing as a self-made man, because luck is needed for externals. But not in order to be virtuous. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2019-Jan-01 • 2 minutes
270. Bad judgment is a disease, Stoic practice is the cure
Seneca says that people arrive at wrong judgments about what is valuable or desirable, and a major goal of Stoic training is, accordingly, to make us less unwise about values and desires. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-31 • 3 minutes
269. Change your mind, if reason prompts you
Epictetus chastises one of his students for wanting to stick with a decision just because he said he would. Which leads us to a discussion of the roles of reason and emotion. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-28 • 3 minutes
268. Practice, practice, practice
Stoicism is a practical philosophy, but how does that work, exactly? Not very differently from the practice of religions like Christianity and Buddhism. Find out in this episode! | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-27 • 2 minutes
267. Here and now
Seneca reminds us that the past is not under our control, and neither is the future. Our only locus of action is the present, and that's where our attention should be. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-26 • 2 minutes
266. How to behave during a storm at sea
Seneca reminds us that those who study philosophy are human beings, subject to the physiological responses and emotions of the case. The difference is in how they reflect on and react to circumstances. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-24 • 3 minutes
265. Retreat into your Inner Citadel
Marcus Aurelius reminds us that, when we need to regain serenity, we may retreat into ourselves and recharge our batteries. In this episode, learn about the ruling faculty and its neural correlates. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-21 • 2 minutes
264. Virtue, virtue, everywhere!
Seneca tells us that virtue can be present at all levels, from nations to individuals, and in all circumstances, from wealth to poverty. Let's find out what, precisely, the Stoics meant by virtue and why it's so important. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-20 • 2 minutes
263. The length of a virtuous life does not matter
Seneca reminds us that a life can be virtuous regardless of its length. And since we have no idea how long we are going to live, the question is: what are you going to do between now and then? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-19 • 3 minutes
262. Love reason!
Seneca warmly invites us to love reason, which will arm us against the greatest hardships. These days, though, reason doesn't have a great reputation. Find out why we should go back to it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-18 • 3 minutes
261. Don't be proud of things you didn't accomplish
Seneca gives a splendidly clear and cogent description of the Stoic concept of preferred "indifferents," external things that are not under our complete control, and which Fortuna can take away at any moment. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-17 • 3 minutes
260. And off they go, alleging slander!
Epictetus notes that nobody tells a doctor that they are rude if the doctor says they are sick and need medicine. But if the philosopher does that with one's moral health... | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-14 • 2 minutes
259. What are you going to do with your luck?
Seneca conjures a vivid image of the goddess Fortuna showering mortals with gifts, which are ruined by the eager crowd, or badly used, and that at any rate do not produce happiness. That's because people lack wisdom, necessary to truly enjoy Fortuna's gifts. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-13 • 2 minutes
258. Try inward happiness
Seneca explains that if our happiness depends on externals, like fame or money, we are in the hands of Fortuna, who could take those things away at any moment. But if we are happy because we are good, then Fortuna is powerless. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-12 • 2 minutes
257. Don't judge a pilot by the size of her ship
Seneca states very clearly that wealth is an indifferent, in Stoic terms. It can be pursued if it allows us to do good, but it should be avoided if it corrupts our moral fiber, making us greedy toward luxury and power. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-11 • 2 minutes
256. It is either extinction or change
Marcus Aurelius contemplates whether death is a resolution of atoms or a final annihilation. He doesn't seem bothered by either possibility. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-07 • 2 minutes
255. Ambition is not a Stoic value
Seneca warns us against ambition, understood not as the will to accomplish things, but as the pursuit of fame, money, and power. Modern politicians should be like Cato the Younger, not Alcibiades. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-06 • 2 minutes
254. Avoid busyness
Seneca advises us to be careful how we spend our time, and especially how we respond to other people's demands for it. Life is short, surely you won't regret, on your deathbed, not having attended one more useless office meeting... | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-05 • 2 minutes
253. Don't be like a dog waiting for another morsel of meat
Seneca says that people are like dogs who eagerly await the next tasty morsel from Fortuna, swallow it quickly, then eagerly await the next one. Don't be like a dog, that way lies perennial dissatisfaction with life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-04 • 3 minutes
252. Of sickness and wisdom
Seneca says that lacking wisdom is like being sick. Although we can imagine what it would be like to be perfectly healthy, in reality we can be happy if we manage to be less sick than before. That's progress, folks! | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Dec-03 • 3 minutes
251. Theory is easy, practice requires effort
Epictetus reminds us that one does not become a good carpenter, or pilot, by simply studying the theory of carpentry or piloting. Mindful, repeated effort is needed to see results. The same goes with one's philosophy of life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-30 • 2 minutes
250. Philosophy is a lifelong commitment
Seneca makes the startling claim that philosophy is a lifelong commitment that cannot be indulged only in our spare time. He doesn't mean academic studies, but rather practice, just like a Christian or Buddhist would do it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-29 • 3 minutes
249. Instead of conquering the world, conquer yourself
Seneca says that he hasn't conquered any enemy but his own greed, ambition, and fear of death. If more people, especially the leaders of the world, were to take that attitude, perhaps there would be no need to conquer enemies. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-28 • 2 minutes
248. In order to make progress you have to desire progress
The goal of Stoic training is to become a better person, not a perfect one. But the first step, as always in life, is to want to make progress. If you wish to better yourself, the game is afoot, you need to start now. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-27 • 2 minutes
247. In a few words: virtue is the only good
Seneca provides us with a very short and to the point summary of Stoic philosophy: virtue is the only good, it depends on our ability to reason correctly, and it leads to good judgment. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-26 • 3 minutes
246. Be grateful for what you have, but don't get too attached to it
Marcus Aurelius reminds himself to be grateful for the things he has, which he would long for if he didn't have them. At the same time, everything is impermanent, so we should be prepared for our losses. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-23 • 2 minutes
245. Sagehood is rare, but progress is up to us
Seneca tells Lucilius that he himself is far from being a wise person, which is as rare as the mythical phoenix. Nevertheless, we can all be "proficientes," those who make progress. Which is the whole point of Stoic training. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-21 • 2 minutes
244. Stoicism is not a "manly" philosophy
We hear a lot of nonsense about Stoicism being tough and therefore only for men. But Seneca clearly explains that virtue doesn't make us invulnerable to pain and suffering, and that women are just as capable as men to become virtuous. Go figure. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-20 • 3 minutes
243. Dining with a tyrant, are you?
Seneca gives us another Stoic "paradox": it may be better to be tortured than to sit at the dinner table. Well, not normally, but surely if you are being tortured to protect innocent lives, or sit at dinner with a tyrant. It all depends on context. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-19 • 2 minutes
242. No need to be anxious even in front of a king
Epictetus explains why king Antigonus was anxious to meet Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, and not vice versa. The king had not yet internalized the fundamental principle of the dichotomy of control: making a good impression on others is not up to us. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-16 • 3 minutes
241. Take the view from above
A quote from Seneca leads us into a discussion of the difference between Stoicism and modern philosophies of despair. For the Stoic, knowledge of the vastness of time and space is no excuse for nihilism, but simply a way to put things in perspective and get back to the task of living well. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-15 • 2 minutes
240. Not just endurance, but tranquillity of mind
Seneca tells Lucilius how Cato, after losing an election, went out to play; and how, before taking his own life, he retired to his room to read a book. Stoicism isn't just about enduring things, it's about achieving serenity in the face of ill fortune. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-14 • 2 minutes
239. Philosophy is serious business
Seneca invites his friend Lucilius to consider that philosophy is too serious a business to be left only to professional philosophers, especially those who engage in clever wordplay and logic chopping just to show how smart they are. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-13 • 2 minutes
238. Decide on the big picture, the details come later
Seneca makes an argument for why we should adopt a philosophy of life (be it Stoicism or something else). It provides us a framework to make decisions and prioritize things. The rest is details. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-12 • 3 minutes
237. Seneca on suicide
Seneca elaborates on how the Stoics see suicide: nature gave us one entrance into life, but many exits. And it is the existence of these exits that guarantees our freedom. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-09 • 2 minutes
236. The Stoic argument for the right to suicide
Seneca continues his discussion of suicide with his friend Lucilius, arguing that maintaining agency and exercising our judgments are fundamental ingredients of a good life. It follows that we should be in charge of when and how to quit. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-08 • 2 minutes
235. Life: it isn't about length, it's about quality
Seneca makes a point that is still controversial two millennia later. The important thing about life is not its length, but its quality. And it is up to the individual to judge the quality of her own life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-07 • 3 minutes
234. How to avoid temptation and practice virtue
Seneca gives some very commonsensical advice, backed up by modern psychological research, on how to best avoid temptation. Which leads us to a discussion of what we should avoid, and what, by contrast, we should seek out in order to act virtuously. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-06 • 2 minutes
233. We are all sick, but we can help each other
Seneca says to his friend Lucilius that he is no wise man or doctor, but rather an unwise and sick person. Which brings us to a discussion of Stoic humility and how it is that we can all make progress toward wisdom. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-05 • 2 minutes
232. The difference between tranquillity and flat calm
Seneca argues that tranquillity of mind is the result of an active, but realistic, engagement with the problems posed by life. By contrast, refusing to rise up to challenges simply leads to a flat and meaningless calm. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-02 • 3 minutes
231. Racism and Stoic compassion
Marcus Aurelius reminds us that people do and say things not because they are evil, but because they are mistaken. The proper response, then, is education and pity, not hatred. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Nov-01 • 3 minutes
230. Gelato and the Cynic wing of Stoicism
Musonius Rufus advises us to follow a minimalist life style, closer to the so-called "Cynic" wing of the Stoic movement. Why is that? Because reducing temptations helps us practicing virtue, as we'll see by way of an example featuring gelato. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-31 • 3 minutes
229. The most important mental trick of your life
Epictetus says that a lyre player plays beautifully when he practices on his own. But gets very nervous in front of an audience. That's because he wants something that is not under his control. Learn and internalize this lesson and your life will be happy and serene. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-30 • 2 minutes
228. The unity of virtue thesis
Seneca argues that the four cardinal virtues are a tightly coordinated council, which makes the best possible decisions for us. In this episode we explore the Stoic concept of the unity of virtue, and make sense of it by analogy with going to the gym to improve our health. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-29 • 2 minutes
227. Tackle illness with virtue
Illness is not something to look forward to, as Stoics are not mad. But it is a fact of life, and so it becomes a question of how we deal with it: by kicking and screming, or as a test of our virtue of temperance? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-26 • 2 minutes
226. Be prepared to endure prosperity
Seneca argues that, strange as it may seem, prosperity is to be endured, just as bad times are. It's yet another Stoic "paradox," of which we make sense in this episode. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-25 • 2 minutes
225. Epictetus gets punched on the nose
Epictetus tells the story of when he first started preaching, instead of teaching, philosophy. It did not go well, and he got punched on the nose. He quickly learned the difference between preaching and teaching. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-24 • 2 minutes
224. The last day of Epicurus
Seneca recounts the last, painful day, of the life of the rival philosopher Epicurus, who claimed that even that day he was happy. Which leads us into a discussion of what the Stoics and Epicureans meant by happiness. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-23 • 2 minutes
223. All good people are equally worthy
Seneca states the fundamental Stoic principle that the measure of a person has nothing to do with externals like wealth, health or good looks. It depends on one thing and one thing only: goodness of character. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-22 • 2 minutes
222. Virtue is nothing but right reason
Seneca gives a straightforward, simple, yet rich definition of virtue to his friend Lucilius. It has huge consequences for every one of us, every day. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-17 • 3 minutes
221. Be charitable toward others
Marcus Aurelius says that other people do wrong out of lack of wisdom, and so do we, which means we should be forgiving toward others. Besides, life is short, and others can't harm the most important thing: our faculty of judgment. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-16 • 2 minutes
220. Do like Socrates, have a dialogue instead of a dispute
Epictetus reminds us that Socrates made an effort to talk to people while avoiding rudeness and invectives. Imagine if we did the same today, instead of indulging in the current climate of acrimony about social and political issues. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-15 • 2 minutes
219. Love requires virtue, not externals
Seneca says that one shouldn't love a person because they are rich, or strong, but because they are virtuous. Which gets us into a discussion of the meaning of the word "axia," referring to things that have value but are not crucial. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-12 • 2 minutes
218. Rich vs poor
Seneca says that being rich does not make you a good person, nor does being poor make you a bad one. We then use this quote to explore the relationship between externals and virtue. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-11 • 2 minutes
217. Joy vs pain
Seneca says that it is natural to seek joy and avoid pain. But the virtue involved in both cases is the same. In the quote we examine today, then, there are a lot of crucial Stoic concepts to be parsed out. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-10 • 2 minutes
216. What is virtue, anyway?
Seneca tells us that virtue lies in how you handle things, both good and bad. If you are sick, be gentle with those who are taking care of you. If you get a promotion, don't brag to your colleagues. It's the virtuous thing to do. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-09 • 3 minutes
215. Talk to people like Socrates would
Epictetus reminds us that it is senseless to talk to others just in order to score points. That way we don't learn, understand, or persuade; we just puff ourselves up and waste opportunities. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-08 • 2 minutes
214. All virtues are related
Seneca states the classic Stoic view that all virtues are aspects of a single underlying one: wisdom. In this episode we explore what that means in practice, every day. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-05 • 2 minutes
213. What matters is how you handle things
Seneca tells us of one of the well known Stoic paradoxes (i.e., uncommon opinions): it is equally good to be joyful or to endure torture. How can we make sense of this? Find out in this episode. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-04 • 2 minutes
212. Death is change and not to be feared
Seneca is at peace with the notion of death, and in this episode we talk about why the Stoic attitude toward this natural process of cosmic recycling makes a lot of sense. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-03 • 2 minutes
211. Let us celebrate those truly worth celebrating
Seneca suggests that we should remember and honor the people that have made positive contributions to humanity, and I add that perhaps, conversely, we should get away from modern "celebrity" culture. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-02 • 2 minutes
210. I want something on which I may test my endurance
Seneca is asking for trouble. Well, not exactly. But he reminds us that Stoicism is about constant practice, so we shouldn't just be prepared to meet a challenge, but positively welcome it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Oct-01 • 3 minutes
209. Whatever can happen at any time can happen today
Seneca says that we have no idea when Fortuna will take friends and loved ones away from us, so the sensible way to live our lives is to take full advantage of every moment we spend with them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-28 • 2 minutes
208. Make friends, oppose Fortuna
Seneca says that making friends is one way to counter the doings of Fortuna, because having friends is one of the great consolations in life, no matter what happens to us. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-27 • 2 minutes
207. Nothing good comes out of a static universe
Marcus Aurelius reflects on the famous concept the Stoics inherited from the pre-Socratic Heraclitus: panta rhei, everything changes. What would happen if we took this seriously, in our everyday life? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-26 • 2 minutes
206. Don't make fun of others, be helpful
Epictetus says that if we encounter someone who is lost we don't make fun of him, but give him directions. Why, then, do we engage in sarcasm against people who disagree with us? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-25 • 2 minutes
205. Practice self control to become more virtuous
Musonius Rufus reminds us that self control is a crucial component of the cardinal virtue of temperance. This doesn't mean we cannot enjoy pleasures, only that we need to do it in proper measure. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-24 • 2 minutes
204. Enjoy your friends and loved ones, now
Seneca says that we should greedily enjoy our loved ones, right now. Because we have no idea how long we will enjoy the privilege of their company and affection. Pay attention to the here and now. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-21 • 2 minutes
203. The Stoic approach to grief
Stoicism is often accused of counseling to suppress emotions. This quote from Seneca clearly shows it doesn't. Then again, we don't want to wallow in grief and let it paralyze us, because we have duties toward the living. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-20 • 2 minutes
202. Converse with the best minds, read a book
Seneca reminds us that one of the simplest and cheapest of pleasures is to engage in a continuous conversation with the best minds humanity has ever produced. By reading a (good) book. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-19 • 2 minutes
201. Are you really that busy?
Seneca suggests that we should change our attitude toward being busy: don't surrender yourself to your affairs, but loan yourself to them and you will live a happier life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-18 • 3 minutes
200. Greed leads to unhappiness
Seneca says that for many people the furnishings of their lives are more than enough, but they keep wanting more, thus dooming themselves to unhappiness and turmoil. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-17 • 2 minutes
199. How to think about life and death
Seneca clarifies one of the famous Stoic paradoxes: no, you shouldn't live every day as if it were your last. But you should live every day to the fullest because you don't know which one will be your last. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-14 • 2 minutes
198. Are you dead before the time, by your own choice?
Seneca reminds Lucilius that a full human life is about being useful, and particularly about helping others. Sure, you can withdraw from the world and live in peace, but then you are arguably already dead. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-13 • 2 minutes
197. No matter what, keep your emerald color
Marcus tells us that, regardless of how people around us behave, we should keep following our moral compass, just like an emerald keeps its color regardless of what others are doing. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-12 • 2 minutes
196. Epictetus asks a student a trick question...
Epictetus engages in a short dialogue with one of his students, asking him a trick question. How would you answer the question of whether pleasure is a good thing, something to be proud of? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-11 • 2 minutes
195. The right thing to do is often painful
Musonius Rufus articulates the Stoic equivalent of "no pain, no gain," in part as a rebuke to the Epicureans. Engaging in social and political life is painful, but it's the right thing to do. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-10 • 2 minutes
194. On exotic food consumption
Seneca is critical of the fact that many ships are required to convey the requisites for a single meal, bringing them from no single sea. Still today so many people indulge in pleasures that cost a lot and cause much environmental damage. Time to revise our priorities about where our food comes from? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-07 • 3 minutes
193. That which Fortuna has not given, she cannot take away
Let's talk about the ancient Roman goddess Fortuna, or what the Greeks called Tyche, to whom Seneca often refers in his letters to Lucilius. Why does she play such an important role in Stoic philosophy? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-06 • 3 minutes
192. We all want lasting joy
Seneca argues that we want joy in life, and we want it to last. And yet, we insist in seeking it in all the wrong places, from ephemeral pleasures to the fickle praise of others. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-05 • 2 minutes
191. Beware of flattery, it gets in the way of genuine progress
Seneca claims that flattery is a subtle enemy of our work toward becoming better persons. Too readily we agree with those who tell us that we are good, sensible, holy even. What's a good attitude toward praise, then? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-04 • 2 minutes
190. Practicing philosophy is like going to spiritual gym
Seneca reminds Lucilius that we can't relegate our quest for becoming better persons to intervals between indulgences. It's like going to the gym: you have to do it regularly and often, or you won't get the benefits. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Sep-03 • 2 minutes
189. Adversity is just a gym to exercise your virtue
Seneca says that the wise person (and, by extension, the practitioner of Stoicism) will deal with poverty, sorrow, disgrace or pain, because she is alert and fortified, ready to treat adversity as a way to improve her character. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-31 • 3 minutes
188. Old age, frail and not
Seneca tells Lucilius that old age is natural and to be welcomed. So long as it maintains our mind in working order. If that's not the case, then the Stoics prefer to exit through the open door, as virtue itself becomes impossible to practice. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-30 • 2 minutes
187. Take care of your body, with temperance
Seneca reminds us that we have some power to make our body last longer, by exercising temperance in our pleasures. Enjoy your next meal, just don't over do it. And remember, Stoics drink wine, but they don't get drunk. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-29 • 2 minutes
186. How to excel at being human
Marcus Aurelius reminds us that there is no difference between acting according to nature and according to reason. What did he mean? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-28 • 2 minutes
185. Where philosophy begins
According to Epictetus philosophy gets started when we are genuinely interested in why people disagree about things. Not in terms of factual matters, which empirical evidence can settle, but about values and how we should think about the world and therefore act in it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-27 • 2 minutes
184. We should study broadly in order to increase understanding
Seneca tells Lucilius that he welcomes knowledge from all fields, not just philosophy. That's why he wrote books on natural questions, including on the nature of comets, earthquakes, thunderstorms, and the causes of the flooding of the Nile. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-24 • 2 minutes
183. Choose your entertainment virtuously
Seneca tells Lucilius that we need rest and relaxation, but we can exercise virtue even in our choice of how we relax and entertain ourselves. Consider how you refresh your mind, the next time you pick a movie or organize a vacation! | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-23 • 3 minutes
182. Everything flows, so don't get attached
Seneca quotes the Pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus to the effect that everything changes all the time, panta rhei. It follows that it is futile to get attached to things, including our own bodies. Enjoy what you have, but consider it a temporary loan from the cosmos. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-22 • 2 minutes
181. Always do what is in harmony with the common interest
Marcus Aurelius talks about being helpful to society. And yet he was an emperor who waged war and presided over slavery. How do we reconcile his actions with his Stoicism? At least in three ways, explored in this episode. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-21 • 3 minutes
180. Do you think you know the difference between good and bad?
A splendid example of Epictetus' sarcasm by way of a bit of dialogue with one of his students. In the course of which we learn about the virtue of practical wisdom, the discipline of desire, and the dichotomy of control. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-20 • 3 minutes
179. The difference between proto-emotions and fully formed ones
Seneca nicely explains what a proto-emotion is, and we discuss how proto-emotions can then develop into fully formed healthy or unhealthy emotions. It all comes down to what cognitive judgment we apply to our initial response. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-17 • 2 minutes
178. How to get a good night's sleep
Seneca reminds us that real tranquillity comes from a relaxed mind with a clear conscience. Which is why Stoics engage in an evening meditation on the major events of the day, learning from their mistakes, and filing them away before going to sleep. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-16 • 2 minutes
177. Self-sufficiency comes from inside, not from externals
Seneca challenges the common assumption that someone is self-sufficient if he has enough money, a nice place to live, and so forth. True self-sufficiency requires serenity, which comes from inner strength, not from externals. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-15 • 2 minutes
176. Death is like pre-birth: there is nothing to be feared
Seneca agrees with Epicurus: death is a state of non-existence, therefore we do not feel anything, and there is nothing to be afraid of. Moreover, it is no different from the aeons before we were born, and we don't regret those, do we? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-14 • 2 minutes
175. Practice philosophy constantly, life doesn't stop
Seneca tells us that philosophy, understood as a way of life, cannot be relegated to spare moments. Just like someone can't be a Christian only on Sunday mornings, so a Stoic applies her principles at every opportunity, big or small. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-13 • 2 minutes
174. Learn from teachers who do, not just talk
Seneca advices his friend Lucilius to pay attention to people who act right, not just talk right. When we pick a role model to improve our character, let's pick someone whose actions we want to imitate, they are a better guidance to virtue. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-10 • 2 minutes
173. Compel Fortuna to play on equal terms
Seneca argues that we can force Fortuna, the goddess of luck, to deal with us on equal terms, by not being slaves to external things we cannot control. Cultivate equanimity, and Fortuna will play fair with you. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-09 • 2 minutes
172. Pay attention to what others say, inhabit their minds
Marcus Aurelius gives some commonsensical advice on how to interact with other people, which leads us to a brief discussion of what counts as "Stoic" advice in the first place. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-08 • 2 minutes
171. Revenge is not justice
Epictetus reminds his students that engaging in a wrong act, even one done in response to an injustice, stains our own character, and therefore hurts us first and foremost. Stoics don't favor retributive justice systems. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-07 • 2 minutes
170. What's the problem with the passions?
Seneca reminds us of the distinction between unhealthy and healthy emotions: being overwhelmed by the first ones tears us apart internally, while cultivating the second ones brings harmony to our psyche. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-06 • 2 minutes
169. No pain no gain, says Musonius
Musonius Rufus, in an implicit rebuttal to the Epicureans, reminds us of all the things that is worth experiencing pain to achieve, most importantly being a good, just, and temperate person. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-03 • 2 minutes
168. You should live neither in a place of torture nor in a cafe
Seneca gives rare advice on one's abode. It should be a place that does not get in the way of practicing virtue, which means neither too uncomfortable (if we can avoid it) nor too luxurious or distracting. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-02 • 3 minutes
167. Philosophy may be painful or a pleasure, but it's worth it
Seneca disagrees with Epictetus: the first says that philosophy is a pleasant medicine, the second that it is a painful one. And yet they agree that it is a remedy that, taken regularly, makes for a wholesome life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Aug-01 • 2 minutes
166. Is the problem with the place, or with you?
Seneca says that more often than we realize we blame our problems on the time and place we live in, without understanding that the fault may be with us, and that we should work on ourselves, instead of finding excuses. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-31 • 2 minutes
165. You want to change the world? Begin by changing yourself
Seneca argues that we are born with the ability to reason and to improve our reasoning. We are also naturally social, and prefer virtue over vice. Hard to believe, right? And yet, he's got a point. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-30 • 2 minutes
164. A good life depends not on length, but on our use of it
Seneca argues that it is the quality, not the duration, of one's life that is important, and that we often live long when measured in years, and yet too little in terms of what we accomplish. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-27 • 2 minutes
163. What's really important in your life?
A straightforward quote by Epictetus allows us to reflect on what a philosophy of life is, and why everyone needs one. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-26 • 2 minutes
162. On the difference between philosophy and logic chopping
Seneca says that he'd prefer to be told how to help people, rather than how many different meanings of the word "people" there may be. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-25 • 2 minutes
161. Things themselves have no power to form our judgments
Life is hard as it is, says Marcus Aurelius, there is no need to make ourselves more miserable by adding unnecessary opinions that increase our suffering. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-24 • 3 minutes
160. Reflect on the roles you play, and play them well
Epictetus introduced a major innovation in Stoic ethics with his theory of roles. We are first and foremost members of the human cosmopolis. But also fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, friends, colleagues. How do we balance the conflicting demands of such diverse roles in life? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-23 • 2 minutes
159. Won't you be my neighbor?
Seneca reminds us that we can't live happily if we transform everything into a question of our own utility. We must live for your neighbour in order to live for ourselves. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-20 • 2 minutes
158. What do you think is truly good for you?
Marcus provides us three options for what sort of thing is truly good for you, and argues that a person of understanding will go for the third one. Have you reflected on what is good for you, and why? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-19 • 2 minutes
157. On family matters, take the high moral ground
Epictetus advises us to forgo issues of material resources and remember that family relationships in great part define who we are. After all, if we can't practice virtue with our brothers, sisters, and parents, with whom can we practice it? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-18 • 2 minutes
156. Everyone who craves externals is a slave to them
Seneca says that if we are going after the satisfaction of lust, greed, ambition, and so forth, we make ourselves slaves to fortune. Not so if we regard what we have as loans from the universe, which the universe can take back at any moment, by any means. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-17 • 2 minutes
155. Calibrate your desires, achieve serenity
Musonius Rufus reminds us that it is far easier to curb our desire for our neighbor's wife than to pursue it Not to mention that it is the right thing to do. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-13 • 2 minutes
154. Don't buy a horse on the basis of its saddle
Seneca reminds us that all too often we judge people on the basis of what they wear, or of their social rank, mistakenly assuming that those are good indicators of their character. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-12 • 2 minutes
153. “They are slaves,” nay, rather they are people
Seneca reminds his contemporaries that slaves are human beings like everyone else. In this episode, we talk about slavery in the ancient world, what the Stoics thought about it, and what follows from their philosophy. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-11 • 2 minutes
152. Beware of the difference between friendship and flattery
Seneca warns us to be careful with people who pretend to be our friends, or simply feed our narcissism. Like, you know, most of the "friends" you likely have on social media... | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-10 • 2 minutes
151. Philosophy did not find Plato a nobleman, it made him one
Seneca reminds us that philosophy is open to all, no matter what our background and means. Engage the philosophical life and you will get to converse with noble minds across time and cultures. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-09 • 2 minutes
150. What does your inner daimon say?
Seneca observes our tendency to boast of the good things we do and to keep quiet about the not-so-good ones. As if our own judgment, the judgment of our conscience, didn't matter. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-06 • 2 minutes
149. How on earth did I get here?
Seneca says that Stoic mindfulness is about paying attention to what is happening to us. We need to keep charting and re-charting our way forward, as our mind needs to be prepared for the vagaries of Fortune. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-05 • 2 minutes
148. Fortune has no jurisdiction over character
Seneca says that Fortune may take just as much, and as suddenly, as she can give. But we can work on improving our character so that we can accept with equanimity both the good and the bad stuff in life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-04 • 2 minutes
147. Observe the goodness of those around you
Marcus Aurelius suggests some simple therapy for our troubled souls: pause and observe some good things done by people around you. Appreciate what they are doing. And use it as an inspiration for becoming better yourself. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-03 • 2 minutes
146. Whenever you yield to externals, you become their slave
Epictetus warns us that if we let an external take precedence over the integrity of our character we are doomed to become slaves for life. And who wants to be a slave, right? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jul-02 • 2 minutes
145. Our predecessors are our guides, not our masters
Seneca reminds us that Stoicism is a live philosophy, which must evolve over time in order to incorporate new truths and, if needed, reject old ideas that turned out to be wrong. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-29 • 2 minutes
144. Be forgiving of liars and unjust people
Marcus Aurelius reminds us that Stoicism is both self forgiving and forgiving of others, and that while we should take the path of truth and justice, we should also be tolerant of people who are even further from wisdom and are gooing the wrong way. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-28 • 2 minutes
143. But I couldn't do otherwise! Yes, you could...
Epictetus tells us that nobody can force us to agree to a judgment we think is incorrect. Surprisingly, this has countless applications to everyday life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-27 • 2 minutes
142. Make yourself happy through your own efforts
Seneca reminds us that, regardless of external circumstances, the only life worth living is one of virtue, and the only life to avoid is one dominated by vice. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-26 • 2 minutes
141. Above all, we are citizens of the world
Marcus Aurelius recognizes that, as Antoninus, he is a citizen of Rome. But more fundamentally, he is a citizen of the human cosmopolis. Some pretty radical consequences immediately follow... | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-25 • 2 minutes
140. Only the truly educated person is free
Epictetus reminds us that education, which involves the ability to shape our moral values, is the only ticket to achieving freedom. Something to remember, in these days in which people freely elect tyrants and autocracts. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-22 • 2 minutes
139. Would the Stoics approve of assisted suicide?
In this episode we discuss a quote from Seneca which, together with several other passages in other authors, clearly points to the conclusion that the Stoics were in favor of suicide in the case of disease and frailty in old age. Which does not mean they took suicide lightly at all. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-21 • 2 minutes
138. Being bad requires a lot of work
Musonius Rufus rather sarcastically reminds us that being bad requires just as much work as being good, so why not choose the latter instead? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-20 • 2 minutes
137. Teach them then, and show them without being angry
Marcus Aurelius says that people make mistakes because they don't know better. So there is no point in getting self-rigtheous and angry about it, instead we need to teach them where they go wrong. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-19 • 3 minutes
136. Go hug a philosopher, will you?
Epictetus defends the apparently strange notion that philosophy, like mathematics (or science, or lots of other things) is a profession, requiring expertise. He is not being elitist, he's just being reasonable. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-18 • 2 minutes
135. We belong to the world, not to a particular corner of it
Seneca reminds us that even though we belong to different social groups, religions, ethnicities and so forth, we are, most fundamentally, members of the human cosmopolis. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-15 • 3 minutes
134. It's either gods or atoms...
Marcus Aurelius reflects on what happens to us when we die: either we are absorbed in the seminal principle of the universe, or we become atoms scattered in the void. Either way, we still need to behave decently toward other human beings. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-14 • 2 minutes
133. Ethics is a practice, so do it
Epictetus asks us a simple question: if we didn’t learn these things in order to demonstrate them in practice, what did we learn them for? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-13 • 2 minutes
132. Moving will not help you, if your trouble is internal
Seneca tells Lucilius that moving to the other end of the world will not be helpful if his troubles are generated by his own attitudes, because he will carry the same person around the globe, if he doesn't address the real issue. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-12 • 2 minutes
131. The truth does you no harm, but error does
Marcus Aurelius reminds himself of something that modern politicians need to pay attention to: if someone shows you that you are in error, the right thing to do is to admit it and learn from the other. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-11 • 2 minutes
130. How Epictetus lost his lamp and the thief became a brute
Epictetus tells the story of a thief stealing his lamp at night, and reflects on what each of them lost in the process. He concludes that he came ahead of the thief. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-08 • 2 minutes
129. Sound minds are hard to find, or buy
Seneca, with rather uncharacteristic sense of humor, says that one can't buy a sound mind, and even if that were possible, there would be no market for them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-07 • 2 minutes
128. Annoyed by people? It's an opportunity to practice virtue
Marcus Aurelius suggests we think of others as partners at the gym: don't hate or hold grudges against them, think of them as opportunities to improve your virtue. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-06 • 2 minutes
127. Good judgments improve your character
Epictetus says that the way we improve our character is by paying attention and making good judgments, while if we keep making bad ones we make our character worse. So today reflect carefully on your decisions, and ask yourself what would Epictetus do. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-05 • 3 minutes
126. I may become poor, then I shall be among many
Seneca lists the worst things that could happen to him, and that we all fear, and reminds himself that the only truly terrible thing is being a bad person who holds to bad values and makes bad decisions. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-04 • 2 minutes
125. Always examine your assumptions
Musonius Rufus reminds us that we often act out of simple habit, without paying attention to what we are doing and why. Not the best way to proceed in life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Jun-01 • 2 minutes
124. Why do you care for the opinion of posterity?
Marcus Aurelius observes that some people are obsessed with what posterity will think of them, even though they have no idea what sort of individuals will make that judgment. Meanwhile, how about taking care of those we know here and now? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-31 • 2 minutes
123. Good and evil are entirely up to you
Epictetus says that externals (health, wealth, education, good looks) are the means by which we do good or evil in the world. So it is entirely up to us, really. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-30 • 2 minutes
122. The glass is neither half full nor half empty, it just is
Seneca reminds Lucilius that we ought to hope for justice, but brace ourselves for injustice. This is just the way the world works, which doesn't absolve us from our responsibility to do something about it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-29 • 2 minutes
121. Do not seek fame, seek to be useful to others
Marcus Aurelius reflects on what is worth doing, and decides that it's not seeking fame, but rather being helpful to fellow human beings. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-28 • 2 minutes
120. Nobody wants to believe falsehoods, and yet...
Epictetus says that people cannot assent to what they think is false. We always want to be right, but we are often not, which is why we rationalize things. That's why we need to improve our ability to arrive at correct judgments about things. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-25 • 3 minutes
119. Think about bad stuff happening, get comfortable with it
Seneca introduces a classic Stoic exercise, the premeditatio malorum, thinking about bad things happening, playing them in your head, so you get comfortable with accepting whatever may come. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-24 • 2 minutes
118. After every disturbance, re-center yourself
Marcus Aurelius reminds us that all sorts of things will disturb our rational soul, and that we therefore need to practice re-centering it in order to respond to situations with reason and equanimity. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-23 • 2 minutes
117. Can you tell the difference between the baths and the mill?
Epictetus has a little bit of fun with the Skeptics, who denied the possibility of human knowledge. If that's the case, he says, how is it that you reliably go to the thermal baths when you want to relax, and to the mill when you want bread? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-22 • 1 minutes
116. Some people get to the end without having lived at all
Seneca observes that some people begin to really live their life only near the end. And some never begin at all. So what's sort of life you want to live, and have you started already? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-21 • 2 minutes
115. Take care of your body, it helps your virtue
Our body is a preferred indifferent, but Musonius Rufus tells us to take whatever care we can of it, as it is also an instrument of virtue. In other words, go to the gym... | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-18 • 2 minutes
114. No matter what, do your duty as a human being
Marcus Aurelius reminds us that whether we are cold or warm, ill-spoken of or praised, and dead or "doing something else," we still have a duty to make this a better world. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-17 • 3 minutes
113. Where are you going to hide from death?
Epictetus uses his dark sense of humor to remind us that death is inevitable. At the same time, though, fear of it is not. Moreover, awareness of death is what, in a sense, gives meaning to our life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-16 • 2 minutes
112. Are you on the right path, or do you need a correction?
Seneca says that the right path in life consists in a good conscience, honourable purposes, right actions, contempt of luck, and an attitude of equanimity toward whatever the universe throws our way. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-15 • 2 minutes
111. Think and act the right way, happiness will flow
Marcus Aurelius maintains that if we think and act the right way our life will be an equable flow of happiness. This is because we will do our best, but look at outcomes with equanimity. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-14 • 2 minutes
110. What is philosophy, anyway?
Epictetus says that philosophy begins with awareness of one's mental fitness. So let's work on that, shall we? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-11 • 2 minutes
109. What about pleasure?
Seneca says the problem with pleasure is that if one is too much into it, it rushes us into the abyss of sorrow. So it's time to discuss what pleasure means for a practitioner of Stoicism. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-10 • 2 minutes
108. If this were you last day, what would you be proud of?
Marcus writes near the end of his life about the sort of things he did that he values, from discounting honors and other externals to having been kind even toward people who were not kind to him. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-09 • 3 minutes
107. Respond to insults as if you were a rock
Epictetus counsels us to react to insults as if we were a rock, that is, by ignoring them. An insult is only effective if you let it be, and that power resides exclusively in your own faculty of judgment. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-08 • 3 minutes
106. Above all, learn how to feel joy
Rather unusual advise from Seneca to his friend Lucilius: learn how to feel joy. Which doesn't sound Stoic only if one buys into the incorrect stereotype of Stoicism as a practice to suppress emotions. Let's learn how to feel joy, then. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-07 • 2 minutes
105. The duty of a social animal capable of reason
Marcus says that we have a duty to do what a social animal capable of reason ought to do. And that's to practice virtue for the betterment of humankind. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-04 • 3 minutes
104. Epictetus and the open door policy: Stoicism and suicide
Tough topic for this episode: what is known as Epictetus' open door policy, that is, the Stoic idea that suicide is permissible, under certain circumstances. And indeed, that it is its possibility that gives us freedom and courage to fight on. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-03 • 2 minutes
103. Take truth wherever you find it, it's public property
Seneca explains that one doesn't have to be an Epicurean in order to find value in the words of Epicurus. It's like in the Senate: you vote for the parts of a motion you approve of, and reject the rest. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-02 • 2 minutes
102. How to calibrate your moral compass
Marcus Aurelius reminds us that justice is a crucial virtue in Stoicism, and we need to constantly keep it at the forefront. He also says that we need to evaluate our impressions of things, before acting. Don't just do it, stop and think about it first! | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-May-01 • 2 minutes
101. The universe is your trainer, get ready for the Olympics
Epictetus uses a nice metaphor in which the universe is our trainer, sending us tough stuff to deal with so that we get used to breaking a sweat and prepare for the Olympics of life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-30 • 2 minutes
100. Changing your life doesn't happen by magic
Musonius Rufus tells us that it isn't enough to know that we should be virtuous, we need to constantly practice virtue. Stoicism is not a magic wand, but it will change your life, and is well worth the effort. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-27 • 2 minutes
99. Practice poverty as an exercise in endurance and gratitude
Seneca tells Lucilius that it is crucial, from time to time, to engage in exercises of self deprivation, so to prepare ourselves for whenever luck will turn, and also to be grateful and appreciative of what we normally have and may take for granted. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-26 • 2 minutes
98. Praise or blame do not make a thing better or worse
On the day of Marcus Aurelius' birthday, April 26, let's reflect on a simple Stoic precept: good or bad lie in actions, thoughts, and words, not in the praise or blame that those things get from others. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-25 • 3 minutes
97. Focus on what is up to you, the rest may or may not come
Epictetus clearly states one of the fundamental principles of Stoicism: the dichotomy of control. Once we realize that some things are up to us and other things aren't, it follows that we should focus on the first ones and cultivate equanimity toward the latter ones. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-24 • 2 minutes
96. Are you practicing, or just talking?
Seneca says that talk is easy, but the real measure of whether we are making progress lies in our practice. Have our desires for the wrong things decreased? Are we focusing on what is truly important? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-23 • 2 minutes
95. 15 minutes of fame? Why would you want that?
Marcus Aurelius reminds us that fame is ephemeral and intrinsically meaningless. What we do for others and to improve ourselves here and now is what really counts. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-20 • 2 minutes
94. We all agree to do good, but disagree on what good is
Epictetus notes that people want to be good, regardless of their ethnicity, citizenship, or religion. But then they get lost in arguments over whether it is acceptable or not to eat pork. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-19 • 2 minutes
93. No cell phones at dinner, just friends
Seneca tells Lucilius that one can learn a thing or two even from Epicurus, particularly that it is the company we keep that is the most important part of our meals. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-18 • 2 minutes
92. Death is coming, what are you doing in the meantime?
Marcus Aurelius reminds himself that his life is finite and brief. How to live it, then? As a good person would, which is in his power to do. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-17 • 2 minutes
91. Whose praise are you so desperately seeking?
Epictetus tells his students that they are fools if they think that being praised is important, particularly by people who they themselves do not think highly of! | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-16 • 2 minutes
90. Anger is temporary madness
Seneca tells us that anger is a form of temporary madness, not to be indulged by the person who cultivates reason. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-13 • 2 minutes
89. Do you have reason? Why don't you use it, then?
Marcus Aurelius asks himself the rethorical question of whether he has reason, and then the less obvious one of why he is not making good use of it. What about you? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-12 • 2 minutes
88. Is your mind in the dark, or are you just blind?
Epictetus explains why being blind is far less of a problem than having your mind in the dark. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-11 • 2 minutes
87. Practice poverty to remind you of the important things
Seneca explains the Stoic practice of eating poor and scant food, and going outside dressed with old clothes, in order to remind ourselves that we can cope with difficult situations, and to appreciate anew what we have. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-10 • 2 minutes
86. Change your mind, if others have better reasons
Marcus Aurelius reminds himself to use his faculty of judgment at its best, which includes changing his mind, should others have better reasons than his own. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-09 • 2 minutes
85. A crown of roses looks better than one of gold
Epictetus mocks a student who is bent on pursuing power and wealth. Those things are neither good nor bad for the Stoics, it's a matter of how we use them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-06 • 2 minutes
84. How to handle the holidays, Stoically speaking
Seneca tells Lucilius about two levels of engagement with drunken crodws during the holidays. Good to remember for your next Thanksgiving, Christmans, or whatever you celebrate. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-05 • 2 minutes
83. Harm comes from opinion, take away the opinion, then
Marcus Aurelius says that there is a difference between objective facts and our opinions of them. And much of our misery comes from the opinions, not the facts. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-04 • 2 minutes
82. Practical philosophy is called practical for a reason
Musonius Rufus tells us that theory is important, and needs to precede practice. But it is the latter that makes the whole thing worth it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-03 • 2 minutes
81. People do bad things because they are fools
Epictetus reminds us of the Stoic doctrine that people don't do bad things on purpose, but rather because they are mistaken about the nature of good and evil. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Apr-02 • 2 minutes
80. Fate, God, or Chance, it doesn't really matter
Seneca says that whether the universe is controlled by universal laws, by a god, or by chance, we still have to do the right thing. And philosophy is our guide for that. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-30 • 2 minutes
79. What are you going to do today to improve the human polis?
Marcus Aurelius articulates a series of if...then statements that argue that we are all members of a community of reasoners, and that reason dictates that we be helpful to such community. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-29 • 2 minutes
78. Got a headache? Excellent opportunity to practice endurance!
Epictetus advises us to start practicing with small things. The next time you are sick, try not to curse or complain. You'll discover in you the power of endurance, and you'll be far less annoying to other people... | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-28 • 3 minutes
77. Practical philosophy is not an oxymoron
Seneca tells Lucilius that philosophy is not just a way to amuse the mind, but an exercise to guide our actions and mould our souls. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-27 • 2 minutes
76. The universe is transformation, life is opinion
Marcus Aurelius here sounds like a Sophist, or a post-modern relativist. But he is a Stoic, so his message is a little more subtle than that. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-26 • 2 minutes
75. Ultimately, it is always your decision
Even when threatened with your life, says Epictetus, you are the one in charge, you make the decision to yield or not to yield. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-23 • 2 minutes
74. Take care of the body, but don't treat it as a temple
Seneca says that it is incumbent on us to take care of our body, but that we should even be willing to destroy it, if virtue demands it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-22 • 2 minutes
73. Fame is fickle, and irrelevant
Marcus reminds us that the number of Facebook likes we get is irrelevant to our happiness. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-21 • 2 minutes
72. Study logic, reason well about life
Epictetus reminds his students that without logic there is no serious talking about how to live the life worth living. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-20 • 2 minutes
71. Be afraid of the right things
Seneca says that we often spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about the wrong sorts of things. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-19 • 3 minutes
70. How the Stoics saw women's education
Musonius Rufus says in no uncertain terms that men and women are capable, and indeed deserve, the same education, including in philosophy. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-16 • 2 minutes
69. Nobody does wrong voluntarily
Marcus Aurelius reminds us of one of the most difficult, and yet most profound, doctrines of Stoicism: nobody commits wrongs on purpose, but only because they lack understanding of good and evil. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-15 • 2 minutes
68. Reason is the name of the game
Epictetus argues that the only way to criticize reason is by way of applying reason. There are no alternative facts for the Stoics. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-14 • 2 minutes
67. The truth belongs to everyone
Seneca explains to his friend Lucilius why on earth he approvingly quotes one of the Stoics' main rivals, Epicurus. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-13 • 2 minutes
66. The inner citadel of peace
Marcus Aurelius reminds himself that he can always retreat into what Pierre Hadot famously referred to as the Inner Citadel, our own mind, where we can pay attention to and refine our faculty of judgment. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-12 • 2 minutes
65. It takes time for a fig to ripe, or a character to mature
Epictetus cautions us to be patient while working on improving our character. Nothing important comes into being overnight. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-09 • 2 minutes
64. The advantages of old age
Seneca tells Lucilius to pay attention to the joys of old age, and to be grateful for every day we live. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-08 • 3 minutes
63. Fame is fleeting, focus on the here and now
Marcus Aurelius engages in a view from above meditation, reminding himself that the quest for fame is just plain irrational. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-07 • 3 minutes
62. Make sure you work on your faculty of judgment
Epictetus reminds us that when we face an impression about an external thing we should consider carefully whether to assent to it, withhold assent, or remain neutral. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-06 • 2 minutes
61. Pick a role model
Seneca advises Lucilius to choose a good role model to improve his character, for we cannot straighten what is crooked unless we use a ruler. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-05 • 2 minutes
60. Philosophy as medicine for the mind
Musonius Rufus says that philosophy is like medicine: if it does not make you a healthier person, it is not useful. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-02 • 2 minutes
59. With great power comes great responsibility
Epictetus reminds people with power that they should remember whom they have power over: fellow human beings, made of the same stuff, wanting the same things. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
58. Keep a sound and upright soul, despise Fortune
The wise person, according to Seneca, needs others to live her life, but not to live a life worth living. For that, all she needs is to keep her faculty of judgment in good order. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
57. Work for the public good
Marcus Aurelius reminds us that we need to work for the public good, not pursue power, fame, or pleasure. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
56. Judgments, Not Externals
Epictetus reminds us that we are in charge of our judgments about things, and talks about Socrates, who chose to be in prison | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
55. It's All About Character
Seneca says that it makes no difference whether your house has a roof of gold, what matters is the character of the person who lives there. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
54. Do The Right Thing, Now
Marcus Aurelius says that we need to stand erect of our own accord, not wait to be propped up by others. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
53. Opinions Cause Suffering
Epictetus on the fact that it isn't exile, pain or death that determine our actions, but our opinions of those things. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
52. Beware Of The Company You Keep
Seneca warns us that the path to virtue is easily disrupted by exposing ourselves to temptation and unsavory company. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 3 minutes
51. We Are All Brothers & Sisters
Hierocles instructs us on a simple mental exercise to practice the Stoic concept of cosmopolitanism. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
50. Philosophy As A Way Of Life
Musonius Rufus reminds us why we study philosophy, a different pursuit from what goes on in the modern academy. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
49. Living According To Nature
Marcus Aurelius reminds us that to care for all people is according to (human) nature. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
48. Against Nationalism
Epictetus tells us that Socrates never replied to the question "where are you from?" with "I am from Athens," but always with "I am a citizen of the world." | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
47. Courage Requires Justice
Seneca makes the surprising (to some) statement that Stoicism is all about community and sharing. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
46. Use Your Thoughts Well
Marcus Aurelius tells us to ignore the opinion that others have of us, and to focus our energy instead on positive projects. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
45. Character Is Crucial
Epictetus says that the measure of a person is the goodness of her character. Let's work on it, then! | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
44. The point of philosophy is...
Seneca makes a surprising statement about the primary aim of philosophy. Surprising, that is, if you confuse Stoicism and stoicism... | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
43. What happens after death?
Marcus Aurelius sounds agnostic about the after life. He also seems to think it doesn't matter. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
42. Beware of superficial judgment
Epictetus observes that even if Plato were handsome and strong, that doesn’t mean those are the traits that made him a great philosopher... | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
41. Wealth not a measure of worth
Seneca has a problem with people who measure their worth by fashion or wealth. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
40. Don’t be an imbecile!
Hierocles reminds us that it is useless to blame things that have no fault. Rather, look at how clumsy or stupid we are sometimes when we use them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
39. Radical idea: women's equality
Musonius Rufus says women have the same reasoning abilities as man, the same faculty of distinguishing good from bad. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
38. Remember, everything passes
Marcus Aurelius lists a number of important people who are no more, as a reminder of the impermanence of things, and to help us keep what happens to us in perspective. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
37. What good did you do today?
Epictetus says that not doing awful things isn’t enough, it’s too lazy. The point is to positively do good things. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
36. Beware of relying on luck
Seneca uses a beautiful analogy to explain why the Stoic practitioner should not rely on luck, and indeed should be positively weary of it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
35. Keep your inner demon clean
Marcus Aurelius talks about how we should keep our “daimon,” i.e., our deliberating faculty, or our conscience. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
34. Follow the counsel of reason
Epictetus reminds us that sometimes the reasonable thing to do is to suspend judgment. And always to face reality rather than engage in wishful thinking. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
33. What counts as a good life?
Seneca says that the important thing is not how long a life you live, but what you do with it. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
32. What matters is the here & now
Marcus Aurelius thinks that it’s good to keep things in perspective, and that we only control the here and now. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
31. Doing beats complaining
Epictetus reminds his student that certain things are an inevitable feature of the universe, and that it is better to work on them than just wish them away. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
30. On death & the value of life
Seneca uses Epicurus’ argument for why we should not be afraid of death, focusing instead on how to best live our life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
29. What makes your life worth it?
Marcus Aurelius introduces us to the apparently paradoxical notion that life, death, honor, dishonor, pleasure and pain are neither good nor bad. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
28. Caring about your soul
Epictetus makes an interesting contrast between taking too much care of our bodies and too little care of our minds. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
27. True friendship is rare
Seneca advises us on how to behave with true friends, and reminds us of how important they are in our life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
26. We are all brothers & sisters
Hierocles reminds us that we are fundamentally social animals, and that we are here to help each other. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
25. Practice, practice, practice!
Musonius Rufus says that nobody is born a writer, musician, or athlete. People get there by studying and practicing. The same goes for virtue. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 1 minutes
24. Clean up your own thinking
Marcus tells us that it’s too easy and unnecessary to worry about other people’s thoughts. It is far more difficult, but useful, to worry about our own. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
23. Don’t argue with stones
Epictetus says that some people hardens their opinions into stones. It’s their problem, don’t waste your time arguing with them. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
22. On wealth and virtue
Seneca tells Lucilius that wealth should be limited, something that exposed him to charges of hypocrisy. Regardless, what is the relationship between wealth and virtue? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
21. Use your time well...
Marcus reminds us that our life is short, and that we don’t really know what day will be our last. So why not use our time in the best possible way? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
20. Virtue is a matter of practice
Epictetus says that we become virtuous in the same way as athletes and musicians become more proficient at what they do: by constant practice. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
19. Find wisdom wherever it is
Seneca wanders into Epicurean territory, as a scout, not a traitor. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 3 minutes
18. Opinions cannot hurt you
Marcus is summarizing here some of the most important concepts of Stoicism, especially why we should pity, and not get upset with, people when they make mistakes. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
17. On dealing with nasty people
Hierocles reminds us how to best respond to another human being who has ill feelings toward us. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
16. Philosophy is about doing
Musonius Rufus says that philosophers should speak clearly, and most of all should live the way they talk. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 3 minutes
15. Don’t sell your soul cheap!
Epictetus asks us at what price we are willing to sell our soul, and advises us to aim for the highest one possible. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
14. Read well, not a lot
Seneca reminds us that reading is serious business, and that time is limited. Choose well the authors in whose company you wish to spend time. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
13. The duties of friendship
Marcus reminds us that we have duties toward the people we live with, and how to be positive about our friends. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
12. How to act toward others
The second century Stoic Hierocles sounds very Christian, and for good reasons. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Mar-01 • 2 minutes
11. Seneca on not wasting time
This could be the last day of your life. Are you going to waste it by binging on a mediocre television show? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Feb-28 • 2 minutes
10. Is the wise person self sufficient?
Seneca puts forth a paradox: the wise person is self-sufficient, and yet she desires friends and neighbors. How is this possible? | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Feb-28 • 2 minutes
9. Take care of your mind, it's precious
Epictetus notes that we can do a lot more with our mind than with our body. And yet we obsess over the latter and care little for the former. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2018-Feb-28 • 2 minutes
8. Don't do anything that requires a wall or a curtain
The emperor-philosopher tells us that there is no profit for our character in doing things that require lying, being hypocritical, or otherwise damage our integrity. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2017-Dec-30 • 2 minutes
7. Time to die or to go lunch?
Epictetus tells us that we have to tend to whatever is happening right now. If we are about to die, let’s deal with it. But if not... | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2017-Dec-29 • 2 minutes
6. Don’t postpone, life speeds by
Seneca tells us that time is a precious commodity, and one that, once loaned, can never be paid back. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2017-Dec-27 • 2 minutes
5. Useful vs pedantic knowledge
Musonius Rufus reminds us of the difference between useful philosophy and dull mind games. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2017-Dec-26 • 2 minutes
4. Focus on what is in your power
Epictetus reminds us of the wisdom of understanding what is and is not under our control. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2017-Dec-24 • 2 minutes
3. Marcus on not getting offended
Marcus Aurelius reminds us that it is a strange thing to get offended by what people say or do. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2017-Dec-22 • 2 minutes
2. Epictetus on what is good
Epictetus teaches us what is truly good in life. | | --- | | Support this podcast:
2017-Dec-21 • 2 minutes
1. Marcus is thankful
Marcus Aurelius is thankful to his grandfather and his mother. | | --- | | Support this podcast: