How to Think Like a Roman Emperor book coverStoicism is a practical philosophy that emphasizes rationality and virtue as the only true goods. Unlike other religious or spiritual practices, Stoicism does not require that you abandon reason or strain your grip on reality; rather, it provides an ethical orientation to life that is fully consistent with our nature as rational, social beings.

Stoicism therefore embraces the original Greek conception of philosophy as a way of life, a subject matter to be practiced rather than simply studied. Far removed from the logical hair splitting of academic philosophy, Stoicism is about living well, with an emphasis on ethics and the attainment of true contentment and excellence of character.

Continue reading “What Marcus Aurelius Can Teach Us About the Practice of Stoicism”

Stoa_of_AttalosIn the spirit of both Plato and Aristotle, Stoicism is a version of eudaimonic virtue ethics that asserts that the practice of virtue is both necessary and sufficient to achieve happiness and contentment.

Founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in 300 BCE, Stoicism has a rich history and several prominent historical adherents (including Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius), making Stoicism an eminently practical philosophy, concerned primarily with ethics, proper conduct, and emotional mastery.

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The Practicing StoicThe title of this post, as you’ve probably noticed, is a variation on Jordan Peterson’s recently released book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. I think a better title for Peterson’s book would actually have been 12 Judeo-Christian Rules for Life, due to the overemphasis on biblical scripture and religious themes.

Nonetheless, despite the major issues with Peterson’s book, there is clearly a demand for a set of guiding principles on how to live the good life. The question is, if Peterson’s work falls short, what’s the alternative?

The answer, I believe, is found in Stoicism, an ancient philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in early 3rd century BC Athens. Stoicism teaches a kind of self-mastery where “virtue is the only good” and externals—such as health, wealth, and fame—are neither good nor bad independent from how we judge them.

Continue reading “12 (Stoic) Rules For Life: An Antidote to Delusion”

Letters from a Stoic SenecaReading a great book (specifically nonfiction) is to acquire, within a matter of hours, the insights and knowledge that the author spent months, years, and sometimes decades developing. Books are therefore knowledge multipliers, shortcuts to years of research and thinking, and the more books you read, the more hard-won knowledge you accumulate in a fraction of the time.

Reading is therefore your most powerful intellectual tool. This means that you had better get it right, otherwise you are squandering your best opportunity to enhance your intellect and understanding.

We all read for different reasons, sometimes simply for entertainment or to extract some quick information, but reading for true self-improvement comes from intentional, analytical reading. The question is, how do you optimize your reading habits for maximum intellectual development?

Continue reading “Seneca on the Art of Reading (and How to Teach Yourself Philosophy)”