Stoic Meditations

Stoic Meditations
Occasional reflections on the wisdom of Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers. More at Please consider supporting Stoic Meditations. (cover art by Marek Škrabák; original music by Ian Jolin-Rasmussen, Support this podcast:

Do not wish for figs in winter
Jul 14 • 2 min
There is a proper time for everything, including enjoying your loved ones. Keep it in mind, before they’re gone. —- Support this podcast:
Stoics have a duty to work toward social and political change
Jul 13 • 2 min
Epictetus tells us what happens when a person is truly free. Tyrants begin to tremble. —- Support this podcast:
Why should we be good?
Jul 10 • 2 min
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:
Enjoy figs in the summer, don’t wish for them in the winter
Jul 9 • 2 min
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:
Practicing philosophy is like going to the doctor’s office
Jul 8 • 2 min
Friends, the school of a philosopher is a hospital. When you leave, you should have suffered, not enjoyed yourself. —- Support this podcast:
Focus on the deed, not the praise
Jul 7 • 2 min
‘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:
Your roles in life
Jul 6 • 3 min
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:
The ultimate locus of your freedom
Jul 3 • 2 min
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:
Who are you, anyway?
Jul 2 • 3 min
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:
It’s about deeds, not words
Jul 1 • 2 min
So you can talk the right talk about Stoicism. But do you also walk the right walk? —- Support this podcast:
A philosophy needs to be digested properly, not just vomited
Jun 30 • 2 min
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:
Reframing problems into training exercises
Jun 29 • 2 min
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:
When the universe sends you a sparring partner
Jun 26 • 2 min
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:
Don’t make yourself a salve of others
Jun 25 • 2 min
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:
What is truly good or bad
Jun 24 • 2 min
‘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:
Examine your values carefully
Jun 23 • 2 min
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:
The character gap
Jun 22 • 2 min
Keep well out of the sun, then, so long as your principles are as pliant as wax. —- Support this podcast:
The fine trappings of a horse
Jun 19 • 2 min
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:
Are you alone or lonely?
Jun 18 • 2 min
Epictetus reminds us to draw a distinction between our objective situation and the way we feel about it. —- Support this podcast:
Ask your impressions for the right password
Jun 17 • 2 min
We should always examine our impressions and ask whether they pass the test: are they in according with reason? —- Support this podcast:
How to deal with a difficult relative
Jun 16 • 2 min
‘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:
What is always within your power
Jun 15 • 2 min
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:
Philosophical journaling
Jun 12 • 2 min
Epictetus explains one of the most powerful techniques in the Stoic toolkit for a better and more meaningful life. —- Support this podcast:
The problem with wealth is that it doesn’t guarantee you a sound mind
Jun 11 • 2 min
You have vessels of gold, but your reason—judgements, assent, impulse, will—is of common clay. —- Support this podcast:
That is tyranny, not government
Jun 10 • 2 min
Epictetus argues that rational creatures will always oppose tyrannical governments. —- Support this podcast:
Argue less, practice more
Jun 9 • 2 min
Epictetus draws a distinction between philosophy pursued for its own sake and philosophy as the art of life. —- Support this podcast:
What do you like to tend to?
Jun 8 • 2 min
Socrates liked to daily monitor his moral self-improvement. How can we do the same? —- Support this podcast:
Contemplating your final activity
Jun 5 • 2 min
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:
Facts don’t come with judgments attached to them
Jun 4 • 2 min
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:…
The raw material of the good person
Jun 3 • 2 min
Epictetus reminds us that to become a better person we need to apply our reasoning faculty to arrive at better judgments. —- Support this podcast:
We need to be human beings, not statues
Jun 2 • 2 min
Epictetus puts to rest the notion that Stoics are supposed to suppress their emotions. —- Support this podcast:
The three disciplines of Epictetus
Jun 1 • 2 min
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:
Socrates and Alcibiades
May 29 • 2 min
Epictetus stresses the difference between physical and inner beauty. —- Support this podcast:
Give yourself a break (from externals)
May 28 • 2 min
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:
Free yourself from the fickleness of others
May 27 • 2 min
People who seek external goods become the slaves of those who happen to have the power to grant such goods. —- Support this podcast:
Pay attention to the ledger of your life
May 26 • 2 min
What sort of things are truly important in your life, and why? Should you be reconsidering your current priorities? —- Support this podcast:
How to avoid a wretched life
May 25 • 2 min
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:
On the futility of war
May 22 • 3 min
Seneca writes a poignant passage reminding us of the futile waste of human life that war is. —- Support this podcast:
Past, present, and future
May 21 • 2 min
Seneca reminds us what is the proper Stoic attitude toward past, present, and future. —- Support this podcast:
The immortality of philosophy
May 20 • 2 min
Honors, statues, and wealth, don’t last much after one’s death. Philosophy is forever. —- Support this podcast:
Try some true friends instead
May 19 • 2 min
The philosophers of the past are your true friends: they give wisdom without asking for money, or imperiling your life. —- Support this podcast:
Have a conversation with Socrates or Epicurus
May 18 • 2 min
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:
Spend time in good company
May 15 • 3 min
Read the great minds of humanity, those that have insights on how to live a meaningful life. —- Support this podcast:
On the treatment of humans and animals
May 14 • 2 min
Seneca criticizes the slaughter of people and animals for the sake of entertainment. Today, the suffering continues, in slaughterhouses. —- Support this podcast:
How to properly go to the barber
May 13 • 2 min
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:
The three periods of life
May 12 • 2 min
The mind that is untroubled and tranquil has the power to roam into all the parts of its life. —- Support this podcast:
How to get to old age
May 11 • 2 min
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:
Live in the here and now
May 8 • 2 min
The greatest hindrance to living is expectancy, which depends upon the morrow and wastes to-day. —- Support this podcast:
Postponement is the greatest waste of life
May 7 • 2 min
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:
Are you on a voyage, or just tossed about by the currents of life?
May 6 • 2 min
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:
Learning how to live, and how to die
May 5 • 2 min
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:
Set aside time to better yourself
May 1 • 2 min
Are you not ashamed to set apart for wisdom only that time which cannot be devoted to any business? —- Support this podcast:
Time to change your plans, right now
Apr 30 • 2 min
Examine how you spend your time, decide how to improve, and don’t wait until tomorrow to chance. —- Support this podcast:
Time vs money
Apr 29 • 2 min
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:
Much of your life is not up to you
Apr 28 • 2 min
The part of life we really live is small. For all the rest of existence is not life, but merely time. —- Support this podcast:
Life is long enough
Apr 27 • 2 min
It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. —- Support this podcast:
On the shortness of life
Apr 24 • 2 min
Is life too short? Depends on what you do with it. —- Support this podcast:
We ought to take care of everyone
Apr 23 • 2 min
To do philosophy means to reason and act correctly toward others. —- Support this podcast:
The problem with luxury
Apr 22 • 2 min
While wealth is a preferred indifferent, luxury is more problematic, from a Stoic perspective. —- Support this podcast:
The importance of experience and self-control
Apr 21 • 2 min
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:
Think about the long term consequences of your actions
Apr 20 • 2 min
Musonius Rufus contrasts the short duration of a shameful pleasure with the lingering regret that will follow. —- Support this podcast:
The philosophy school is like the doctor’s office
Apr 17 • 2 min
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:
You made the only mistake you could possibly make
Apr 16 • 2 min
A rare glimpse into the life of young Epictetus, when he gets criticized by his teacher, Musonius Rufus. —- Support this podcast:
What we should concern ourselves with
Apr 15 • 2 min
Musonius Rufus clearly states how to implement the dichotomy of control in our lives. —- Support this podcast:
How to save $1000 by challenging impressions.
Apr 14 • 2 min
Musonius Rufus reminds us that our most precious faculty is our ability to challenge impressions —- Support this podcast:
Patterning ourselves after Zeus
Apr 13 • 3 min
Musonius Rufus is confronted by a critic about what it means to live according to Zeus, or Nature. —- Support this podcast:
Don’t try to reason with those who can’t hear
Apr 10 • 2 min
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:
Take care of your mind just like you do of your body
Apr 9 • 2 min
In order to protect ourselves we must live like doctors and be continually treating ourselves with reason. —- Support this podcast:
Practice what you preach
Apr 8 • 2 min
Don’t expect to tell others what they should do when they know that you do what you shouldn’t. —- Support this podcast:
On being useful to others
Apr 7 • 2 min
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:
Make your last choice while you still can
Apr 6 • 2 min
Choose to die well while you can; wait too long, and it might become impossible to do so. —- Support this podcast:
Shameful speech undermines your character
Apr 3 • 2 min
If we speak badly, we think badly, and we are more likely to act badly. —- Support this podcast:
Pain vs pleasure
Apr 2 • 2 min
Musonius Rufus reminds us to be on guard concerning the effects that both pain and pleasure may have on our character. —- Support this podcast:
The importance of self-control
Apr 1 • 2 min
Self-control, often referred to as the fourth cardinal virtue of temperance, is crucial to Stoicism and other philosophies of life. —- Support this podcast:
Criticizing tyrants is not enough
Mar 31 • 2 min
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:
Live in the here and now
Mar 30 • 2 min
Musonius Rufus reminds us that we can, and should, only live in the present. —- Support this podcast:
The interplay between nature and wisdom
Mar 27 • 2 min
Cicero deploys a beautiful metaphor to encapsulate the Stoic theory of moral developmental psychology. —- Support this podcast:
What wisdom is for
Mar 26 • 2 min
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:
Live according to nature
Mar 25 • 3 min
Cicero provides three interpretations of the famous Stoic motto, live according to nature. —- Support this podcast:
The virtues of sound reasoning and scientific understanding
Mar 24 • 3 min
The Stoics adopted four ethical virtues, but also two epistemic ones: good reasoning and scientific understanding. —- Support this podcast:
On friendship
Mar 23 • 2 min
Friendship is intrinsically choice-worthy, going beyond just instrumental value. —- Support this podcast:
Our social duties
Mar 20 • 3 min
Cicero explains how the wise person is supposed to be involved in society, politics, and family. —- Support this podcast:
On private property
Mar 19 • 2 min
The Stoic take on private property is that it isn’t really property: it’s on temporary loan from the universe. —- Support this podcast:
Sociability, not pleasure
Mar 17 • 2 min
Cicero proposes a simple argument for why sociability, not pleasure, is the ultimate human desire. —- Support this podcast:
Expanding our circle of concerns
Mar 16 • 3 min
We learn the rudiments of ethics within our family. But we cannot stop there. —- Support this podcast:
On suicide
Mar 13 • 3 min
Cicero explains what criterion the Stoic uses to decide whether to walk through the open door. —- Support this podcast:
On fame: Chrysippus agrees with Diogenes
Mar 12 • 2 min
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:
Why some indifferents are preferred
Mar 11 • 3 min
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:
Stoicism, Cynicism, and Aristotelianism
Mar 10 • 3 min
Stoicism occupies a logical space between the kin philosophies of Cynicism and Aristotelianism. —- Support this podcast:
The drowning man metaphor
Mar 9 • 2 min
Virtue is all or nothing, and yet we can make progress toward it. How does this Stoic paradox work? —- Support this podcast:
More on Aristotelians vs Stoics
Mar 6 • 3 min
Cicero explains how Aristotelians and Stoics treat externals, such as health, wealth, and so on. —- Support this podcast:
On pain and mind
Mar 5 • 2 min
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:
Aristotelianism vs Stoicism
Mar 4 • 3 min
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:
Intentions vs consequences
Mar 3 • 3 min
Unlike much modern thinking in moral philosophy, Stoicism is about intentions. Which doesn’t mean Stoics don’t care about consequences. —- Support this podcast:
Living according to nature
Mar 2 • 2 min
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:…
Why a good life is a moral life
Feb 28 • 3 min
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:
The chief good is the moral good
Feb 27 • 2 min
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:
The metaphor of the archer
Feb 25 • 3 min
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:…
The mixed roots of virtue
Feb 25 • 2 min
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:…
Things that have value outside of virtue
Feb 24 • 2 min
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:
Our natural delight in the use of reason
Feb 20 • 3 min
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:…
The root of virtue: self love
Feb 19 • 3 min
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:…
The crucial importance of technical words
Feb 18 • 2 min
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:
Virtue vs pleasure
Feb 17 • 3 min
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:
Teach or endure
Feb 14 • 2 min
People exist for the sake of one another. Teach them then or bear with them. —- Support this podcast:
Two scenarios for the after-death
Feb 13 • 2 min
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:…
What is properly ours and what is not
Feb 12 • 2 min
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:…
Of bitter cucumbers and thorny briars
Feb 11 • 2 min
“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:
The inner citadel
Feb 10 • 2 min
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:
The courage to stay
Feb 7 • 2 min
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:
Value judgments are not inherent in things
Feb 6 • 2 min
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:
Achieving ataraxia
Feb 5 • 2 min
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:
On fame, posthumous or not
Feb 4 • 2 min
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:
Three things to care about
Feb 3 • 2 min
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:…
The nuanced conflict between pleasure and virtue
Jan 31 • 2 min
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:
How not to get overwhelmed by problems
Jan 30 • 2 min
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:…
A prepared mind is a mark of wisdom
Jan 29 • 2 min
All things happen in a more endurable fashion to people who are prepared for them. —- Support this podcast:
The true meaning of human freedom
Jan 28 • 2 min
Freedom consists in raising one’s mind superior to injuries and becoming a person whose pleasures come from himself alone. —- Support this podcast:
When it comes to people insulting you, you are in complete control
Jan 27 • 2 min
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:
The insult conundrum
Jan 24 • 2 min
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:
The best way to respond to insults
Jan 23 • 2 min
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:
Rich people are worse than beggars
Jan 22 • 2 min
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…
On the invulnerability of the wise person
Jan 21 • 2 min
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:…
Is sagehood possible?
Jan 20 • 2 min
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:
How to react to both prosperity and adversity
Jan 17 • 2 min
Bear adversity with calm and prosperity with moderation, neither yielding to the former nor trusting to the latter. —- Support this podcast:
The simplified dichotomy of control
Jan 16 • 2 min
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:
The meaning of invulnerability
Jan 15 • 2 min
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:
We are free no matter what
Jan 14 • 2 min
“For Cato did not outlive freedom, nor did freedom outlive Cato.” On the Stoic conception of suicide. —- Support this podcast:
The path to virtue is not as steep as some may think
Jan 13 • 2 min
“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:
The joke’s on the thief
Jan 10 • 2 min
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:…
The importance of logic
Jan 9 • 2 min
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:…
Humanity’s problems stem from ignorance
Jan 8 • 2 min
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:
Practice, practice, practice
Jan 7 • 2 min
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:…
Don’t behave like a sheep or a wild beast
Jan 6 • 3 min
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:
The power of using impressions
Jan 2 • 2 min
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:
What if you were sent to Gyara?
Dec 29, 2019 • 2 min
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:
The wonder and curse of consciousness
Dec 27, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Microcosm and macrocosm
Dec 26, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The true nature of humanity
Dec 23, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Going on a trip? Here’s what’s up to you (and what isn’t)
Dec 20, 2019 • 2 min
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:
What really matters
Dec 19, 2019 • 2 min
Material things per se are indifferent, but the use we make of them is not indifferent. —- Support this podcast:
The crucial importance of trust
Dec 18, 2019 • 2 min
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.…
Prosoche, or Stoic attention
Dec 17, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Better swallow the bitter pill from the get go
Dec 16, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Don’t get lost in the details and miss the big picture
Dec 13, 2019 • 2 min
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…
Don’t confuse a rest stop with your destination
Dec 12, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Anger is a waste of time
Dec 11, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The simplest and bets trick in life: be prepared
Dec 10, 2019 • 2 min
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:
How to keep a philosophical journal
Dec 9, 2019 • 3 min
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:…
The problem is money
Dec 6, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Examine your balance sheet of giving and receiving
Dec 5, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Envy is the root of much unhappiness
Dec 4, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Treat fools like fools, don’t get angry with them
Dec 3, 2019 • 2 min
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:
The futility of revenge
Dec 2, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Understand and forgive
Nov 29, 2019 • 2 min
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:
I have entrusted the guidance of my life to reason
Nov 27, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
On magnanimity
Nov 26, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Act the opposite of anger
Nov 25, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Abstain from action when under the spell of anger
Nov 22, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Humor, not anger
Nov 21, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Practical steps to curb your anger
Nov 20, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Be careful with the company you keep
Nov 19, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Anger betrays what is best in humanity
Nov 18, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The difference between anger and other negative emotions
Nov 15, 2019 • 3 min
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:
The awful things we do when angered
Nov 14, 2019 • 2 min
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:
It takes two to have a fight
Nov 13, 2019 • 2 min
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:
On revenge and retaliation
Nov 12, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Think of everything, expect everything
Nov 11, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Don’t rush to judgment, give time to reason to do its work
Nov 8, 2019 • 2 min
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:
We have other people’s vices before our eyes, and our own behind our backs
Nov 7, 2019 • 2 min
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:
It is foolish to be angry at your computer
Nov 6, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Fake anger vs real anger
Nov 5, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Reason and goodness are candles in the dark
Nov 4, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Forgiveness first and foremost
Nov 1, 2019 • 2 min
To avoid being angry with individuals, you must pardon the whole mass, you must grant forgiveness to the entire human race. —- Support this podcast:
The nature of emotions
Oct 31, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The difference between reason and anger
Oct 30, 2019 • 2 min
Reason wishes to give a just decision; anger wishes its decision to be thought just. —- Support this podcast:
Anger is not a weapon, it’s a liability
Oct 29, 2019 • 2 min
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:
A good judge condemns wrongful acts, but does not hate them
Oct 28, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Don’t be angry, be useful
Oct 25, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Anger is like drunkenness, it doesn’t help
Oct 24, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Why are love and a sense of justice not enough?
Oct 23, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The three movements of anger
Oct 22, 2019 • 2 min
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…
Anger is a short madness
Oct 21, 2019 • 3 min
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:…
Receive wealth or prosperity without arrogance; and be ready to let it go
Oct 18, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The difference between impressions and assent
Oct 17, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Begin to reckon age, not by years, but by virtues
Oct 16, 2019 • 2 min
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:
No one dies too soon
Oct 15, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Go through life like a traveler stopping at an inn
Oct 14, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Sometimes people live too long for their own good
Oct 11, 2019 • 2 min
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…
On the nature of death
Oct 10, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Do not fear the netherworld, don’t listen to the fantasies of poets and priests
Oct 7, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Nature is fair in her bargains
Oct 4, 2019 • 2 min
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:
The common lot of mortals
Oct 3, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Women are just as capable as men of achieving eudaimonia
Oct 2, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Which is the better lot, to be happy for a short time or not at all?
Oct 1, 2019 • 3 min
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:
No regrets, only thankfulness
Sep 30, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Pay attention to the setbacks of others
Sep 27, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Reasonable vs unreasonable grief
Sep 26, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Everyone is a good pilot if the weather is fair
Sep 25, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Challenging the cognitive component of our emotions
Sep 24, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The path to a life worth living
Sep 23, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The first rule of Stoic Club
Sep 20, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Stoic epistemology and humility about knowledge
Sep 19, 2019 • 3 min
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…
Chrysippus on the various philosophies of life
Sep 18, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Aristo, the Stoic dissenter
Sep 17, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Always challenge your impressions
Sep 15, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Panaetius, the dissident Stoic
Sep 13, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Skeptics vs Stoics
Sep 12, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Chrysippus and the logic of paradoxes
Sep 11, 2019 • 3 min
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:…
Ignorance, knowledge, and things in between
Sep 10, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Stoic materialism
Sep 9, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Four interesting Stoic doctrines
Sep 6, 2019 • 4 min
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:
What Zeno said
Sep 5, 2019 • 3 min
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:…
The importance of Socrates
Sep 4, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The consolations of philosophy
Sep 3, 2019 • 2 min
Cicero begins his treatise Academica by seeking a medicine for his sorrows in philosophy. —- Support this podcast:
Gods or atoms, you should blame no one
Sep 2, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The problem with Paris (not the city)
Aug 30, 2019 • 3 min
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…
That which is according to nature is the beginning of the good
Aug 29, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Stoics vs Epicureans
Aug 28, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Bad thoughts are like catchy tunes
Aug 27, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Stoicism is not good for consumerism
Aug 23, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
How to tell a Stoic
Aug 22, 2019 • 2 min
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:
The right attitude about the world
Aug 21, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Everything tastes good if you are hungry
Aug 20, 2019 • 2 min
“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:…
Anger is a self inflicted wound
Aug 19, 2019 • 2 min
Nothing need provoke our anger if we do not add to our pile of troubles by getting angry. —- Support this podcast:
A simple way to go right, many ways to go wrong
Aug 16, 2019 • 2 min
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…
The balance between inner and outer resources
Aug 15, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Ethics and human nature
Aug 14, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
What the virtues are for
Aug 13, 2019 • 2 min
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…
The difference may be subtle
Aug 12, 2019 • 2 min
There are, as you know, vices which are next-door to virtues. Carelessness looks like ease, and rashness like bravery. —- Support this podcast:
Of friendship, dogs, and meat thrown in the middle
Aug 9, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The analogy between physical and mental health
Aug 8, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Nothing is good which can be put to wrong use by any person
Aug 7, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The difference separating Aristotelians, Stoics, and Cynics
Aug 6, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Where’s your stopping point?
Aug 5, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Three disciplines to live a better life
Aug 2, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
A starving man despises nothing
Aug 1, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Are you conducting yourself virtuously in your profession?
Jul 31, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The hedonic treadmill will not make you happy
Jul 30, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Fortune, I ask no favors of you
Jul 29, 2019 • 2 min
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:
The playthings of children and the shackles of adults
Jul 26, 2019 • 2 min
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:
The importance of not wasting time
Jul 25, 2019 • 2 min
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:
The value of money, beauty, and high social position
Jul 24, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Rationalizing is not the same thing as reasoning
Jul 23, 2019 • 2 min
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:
How to tell whether you have achieved wisdom
Jul 19, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Negative emotions are diseases, they are not good even in small measure
Jul 18, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The true value of things
Jul 17, 2019 • 3 min
We have become alternately merchants and merchandise, and we ask, not what a thing truly is, but what it costs. —- Support this podcast:
Are you a slave, a fool, or what?
Jul 16, 2019 • 2 min
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:
The problem with fame, wealth and power
Jul 11, 2019 • 2 min
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:
The problem with excessive wealth
Jul 10, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Why are you doing what you are doing?
Jul 9, 2019 • 2 min
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:
What brought down Alexander the Great
Jul 8, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Who’s got the time?
Jul 5, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
What’s the difference between useful and useless?
Jul 4, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The definition of courage
Jul 3, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
What are we talking about, and why?
Jul 2, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
On the vanity of mental gymnastics
Jul 1, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Have you changed your mind yet?
Jun 28, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Have you taken the easy step yet?
Jun 27, 2019 • 2 min
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:
The difference between thinking and worrying
Jun 26, 2019 • 2 min
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…
In a little time you will be like Hadrian and Augustus
Jun 24, 2019 • 2 min
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.…
Pick your virtue buddy
Jun 21, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Thus the study of wisdom has become the study of words
Jun 20, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Consider vegetarianism
Jun 19, 2019 • 2 min
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:
On the best way to resist temptation
Jun 18, 2019 • 2 min
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:
The fortune of everyone is molded by their character
Jun 17, 2019 • 3 min
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:…
The true hearer is ravished and stirred by the beauty of the subject matter, not by the jingle of empty words
Jun 14, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Philosophy rubs off of you
Jun 13, 2019 • 2 min
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…
That which you cannot reform, it is best to endure
Jun 12, 2019 • 2 min
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:
No matter what trouble you mention, it has happened to many
Jun 11, 2019 • 2 min
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…
What illusion about myself do I entertain?
Jun 7, 2019 • 2 min
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:
What things you can be robbed of, and what things you can’t
Jun 6, 2019 • 2 min
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…
How to do a premeditation of adversity
Jun 5, 2019 • 3 min
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:…
Life is like a journey: some things that you don’t like will be thrown at you
Jun 4, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
“Busyness” is no proof of happiness
Jun 3, 2019 • 2 min
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:
People will do the same things even though you would burst with rage
May 31, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The most important contribution to peace of mind is never to do wrong
May 30, 2019 • 2 min
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:
What goads people into destroying other people?
May 29, 2019 • 2 min
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:
No need to be Cato in order to practice virtue
May 28, 2019 • 3 min
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:
The answer is always going to be “it depends”
May 24, 2019 • 3 min
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…
Spend some time with Zeno and Socrates instead
May 23, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The problem is that you are travelling with your emotions and are followed by your afflictions
May 22, 2019 • 2 min
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…
If you travel in order to escape yourself, don’t
May 21, 2019 • 2 min
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:
We must suffer for the sake of those we love
May 20, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Theory is fine, but useless if you don’t practice
May 17, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Remember what you should offer and what you should withhold
May 16, 2019 • 2 min
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…
Humanity is what it is, not what we would like it to be
May 15, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Your role model may be closer than you think
May 14, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Virtue is all-or-nothing, and yet, we can make progress
May 13, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do
May 10, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s account every day.
May 9, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
No sensation of evil can reach one who is dead
May 8, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Not feeling pain would make us inhuman, not sages
May 7, 2019 • 2 min
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:
The universe is morally neutral
May 6, 2019 • 2 min
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…
Challenge your impressions, don’t “just do it”
May 3, 2019 • 3 min
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:…
The view from above, Seneca style
May 2, 2019 • 2 min
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. —-…
What ought to be done must be learned from one who does it
May 1, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
If someone can withstand fire or exile, surely you can overcome something…
Apr 30, 2019 • 3 min
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:…
Don’t suffer before it is necessary
Apr 29, 2019 • 2 min
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:
The skill of the pilot is independent of the value of the cargo
Apr 26, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The universe is morally neutral
Apr 25, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
A long life is like a long journey: there is bound to be rain and mud on the way
Apr 24, 2019 • 2 min
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…
Want to be alive? Pay the taxes of life
Apr 23, 2019 • 2 min
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…
Expand your circles of concern
Apr 22, 2019 • 3 min
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:…
It’s far easier to change yourself than others
Apr 19, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
The problem with expensive meals
Apr 18, 2019 • 2 min
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…
We should prosecute our politicians and generals
Apr 17, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Seneca on war as human folly
Apr 16, 2019 • 3 min
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:
A surprisingly difficult simple precept
Apr 15, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Happiness is an inside job
Apr 12, 2019 • 3 min
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:
The proximity of good people is good for you
Apr 11, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Repetition is useful
Apr 10, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Approach your life all things considered
Apr 9, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Seneca agrees with Ricky Gervais on the afterlife and the meaning of existence
Apr 8, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Cut off anger at its inception
Apr 5, 2019 • 2 min
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:
How long you live is not up to you, how you live is
Apr 4, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Marcus Regulus and the hard core of Stoicism
Apr 3, 2019 • 3 min
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:…
Virtue is like the sun behind a cloud
Apr 2, 2019 • 3 min
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:
The fanciness of your scabbard says nothing about the effectiveness of your sword
Apr 1, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
What does it mean to live every day as if it were your last?
Mar 29, 2019 • 3 min
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:
The importance of sound judgment
Mar 28, 2019 • 3 min
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:
How to achieve serenity
Mar 27, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Virtue is the only good, naturally
Mar 26, 2019 • 2 min
Cicero asserts the standard, and apparently paradoxical, Stoic position that virtue is the onyl true good. Let’s see why. —- Support this podcast:
Be aware of what you can and cannot change
Mar 25, 2019 • 3 min
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…
How to shape your character
Mar 22, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Welcoming Cicero to our line up
Mar 21, 2019 • 3 min
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…
These are your choices
Mar 20, 2019 • 3 min
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:…
Can we really improve ourselves?
Mar 19, 2019 • 3 min
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…
Wisdom as a better filter to examine your life
Mar 18, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Marcus Aurelius and the chocolate cake
Mar 15, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Stoicism and war
Mar 14, 2019 • 3 min
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:
The three parts of philosophy
Mar 13, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Concern yourself with careful living
Mar 12, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Here’s your top priority in life
Mar 11, 2019 • 2 min
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:
In order to learn something new you need to forget what you think you already know
Mar 8, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Seneca criticizes the institution of war
Mar 7, 2019 • 3 min
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…
Wealth doesn’t make you a better person
Mar 6, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Chance events are not good for you
Mar 5, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Much of what we have is superfluous
Mar 4, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
When to care, or not, about other people’s opinions
Mar 1, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Make your life the best it can be given the materials you are given
Feb 28, 2019 • 2 min
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…
Everyone is a good pilot on a calm sea
Feb 27, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Treat yourself as you would a sick friend
Feb 26, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Moderate insanity is not a good thing
Feb 25, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Planning is more important than worrying about outcomes
Feb 22, 2019 • 2 min
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:
The orchestra of your mind
Feb 21, 2019 • 3 min
Seneca draws a beautiful analogy between the harmonious sounds of an orchestra and the harmonious thinking of a well structured mind. —- Support this podcast:
If you want to understand things, write them down
Feb 20, 2019 • 2 min
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. —-…
Read books, it’s good for you
Feb 19, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Pay attention to the past in order to tackle the future
Feb 18, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Life is more like wrestling than dancing
Feb 15, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Too much logic is not good for your health
Feb 14, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Not all indifferents are created equal
Feb 13, 2019 • 3 min
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:
The difference between Stoicism and stoicism
Feb 12, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Be magnanimous toward others
Feb 11, 2019 • 3 min
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:…
Do you still need somebody to wipe your nose?
Feb 8, 2019 • 3 min
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:…
Virtue is its own reward
Feb 7, 2019 • 3 min
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:
How much are you worth?
Feb 6, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Get rid of fear of death and poverty
Feb 5, 2019 • 3 min
Seneca agrees with Epicurus: fear of death and poverty is crippling, and we need to work toward overcoming it. —- Support this podcast:
Three simple steps to live a good life
Feb 4, 2019 • 3 min
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:
Why we need to focus on our own improvement
Feb 1, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Fortuna is your sparring partner
Jan 31, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Practical exercises in self-deprivation
Jan 30, 2019 • 3 min
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:…
Are you sick? You can be brave about it
Jan 29, 2019 • 2 min
Seneca reminds us that courage is not just for the battlefield, but for the everyday difficulties of life, like being sick. —- Support this podcast:
Pay attention to the good parts of your life
Jan 28, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
Your “happiness” is up to you, really
Jan 25, 2019 • 2 min
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:…
What’s a good reason to endure hardship?
Jan 24, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Turn regrets into learning opportunities
Jan 23, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Everything depends on opinion
Jan 22, 2019 • 2 min
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:
40 years or 10,000, makes little difference
Jan 21, 2019 • 2 min
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:
On the importance of friendship
Jan 18, 2019 • 1 min
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:…
Life’s a play, act well
Jan 17, 2019 • 2 min
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:
The asymmetry of being dead
Jan 16, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Distribute your wealth like after a banquet
Jan 15, 2019 • 2 min
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:
A little philosophy is a dangerous thing
Jan 14, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Every good life is complete
Jan 11, 2019 • 1 min
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:
A prepared mind tackles adversity better
Jan 10, 2019 • 2 min
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:
The real stature of people
Jan 9, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Navigating between good and bad fortune
Jan 8, 2019 • 2 min
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:
We are all going to die, but until then?
Jan 7, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Would you buy a car based on its color?
Jan 4, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Why virtue is the only good
Jan 3, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Virtue will not fall upon you by chance
Jan 2, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Bad judgment is a disease, Stoic practice is the cure
Jan 1, 2019 • 2 min
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:
Change your mind, if reason prompts you
Dec 31, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Practice, practice, practice
Dec 28, 2018 • 3 min
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:
Here and now
Dec 27, 2018 • 2 min
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:
How to behave during a storm at sea
Dec 26, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Retreat into your Inner Citadel
Dec 24, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Virtue, virtue, everywhere!
Dec 21, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
The length of a virtuous life does not matter
Dec 20, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Love reason!
Dec 19, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Don’t be proud of things you didn’t accomplish
Dec 18, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
And off they go, alleging slander!
Dec 17, 2018 • 2 min
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:
What are you going to do with your luck?
Dec 14, 2018 • 2 min
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…
Try inward happiness
Dec 13, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Don’t judge a pilot by the size of her ship
Dec 12, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
It is either extinction or change
Dec 11, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Ambition is not a Stoic value
Dec 7, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Avoid busyness
Dec 6, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Don’t be like a dog waiting for another morsel of meat
Dec 5, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Of sickness and wisdom
Dec 4, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Theory is easy, practice requires effort
Dec 3, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Philosophy is a lifelong commitment
Nov 30, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Instead of conquering the world, conquer yourself
Nov 29, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
In order to make progress you have to desire progress
Nov 28, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
In a few words: virtue is the only good
Nov 27, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Be grateful for what you have, but don’t get too attached to it
Nov 26, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Sagehood is rare, but progress is up to us
Nov 23, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Stoicism is not a “manly” philosophy
Nov 21, 2018 • 1 min
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. —-…
Dining with a tyrant, are you?
Nov 20, 2018 • 2 min
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. —-…
No need to be anxious even in front of a king
Nov 19, 2018 • 2 min
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. —-…
Take the view from above
Nov 16, 2018 • 2 min
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…
Not just endurance, but tranquillity of mind
Nov 15, 2018 • 2 min
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. —-…
Philosophy is serious business
Nov 14, 2018 • 2 min
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…
Decide on the big picture, the details come later
Nov 13, 2018 • 1 min
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:…
Seneca on suicide
Nov 12, 2018 • 2 min
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:
The Stoic argument for the right to suicide
Nov 9, 2018 • 2 min
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…
Life: it isn’t about length, it’s about quality
Nov 8, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
How to avoid temptation and practice virtue
Nov 7, 2018 • 3 min
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. —-…
We are all sick, but we can help each other
Nov 6, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
The difference between tranquillity and flat calm
Nov 5, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Racism and Stoic compassion
Nov 2, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Gelato and the Cynic wing of Stoicism
Nov 1, 2018 • 2 min
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…
The most important mental trick of your life
Oct 31, 2018 • 2 min
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…
The unity of virtue thesis
Oct 30, 2018 • 2 min
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…
Tackle illness with virtue
Oct 29, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Be prepared to endure prosperity
Oct 26, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Epictetus gets punched on the nose
Oct 25, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
The last day of Epicurus
Oct 24, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
All good people are equally worthy
Oct 23, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Virtue is nothing but right reason
Oct 22, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Be charitable toward others
Oct 17, 2018 • 2 min
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…
Do like Socrates, have a dialogue instead of a dispute
Oct 16, 2018 • 1 min
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…
Love requires virtue, not externals
Oct 15, 2018 • 2 min
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…
Rich vs poor
Oct 12, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Joy vs pain
Oct 11, 2018 • 1 min
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:…
What is virtue, anyway?
Oct 10, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Talk to people like Socrates would
Oct 9, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
All virtues are related
Oct 8, 2018 • 2 min
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:
What matters is how you handle things
Oct 5, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Death is change and not to be feared
Oct 4, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Let us celebrate those truly worth celebrating
Oct 3, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
I want something on which I may test my endurance
Oct 2, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Whatever can happen at any time can happen today
Oct 1, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Make friends, oppose Fortuna
Sep 28, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Nothing good comes out of a static universe
Sep 27, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Don’t make fun of others, be helpful
Sep 26, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Practice self control to become more virtuous
Sep 25, 2018 • 1 min
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:…
Enjoy your friends and loved ones, now
Sep 24, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
The Stoic approach to grief
Sep 21, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Converse with the best minds, read a book
Sep 20, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Are you really that busy?
Sep 19, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Greed leads to unhappiness
Sep 18, 2018 • 2 min
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:
How to think about life and death
Sep 17, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Are you dead before the time, by your own choice?
Sep 14, 2018 • 1 min
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:…
No matter what, keep your emerald color
Sep 13, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Epictetus asks a student a trick question…
Sep 12, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
The right thing to do is often painful
Sep 11, 2018 • 1 min
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:…
On exotic food consumption
Sep 10, 2018 • 2 min
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…
That which Fortuna has not given, she cannot take away
Sep 7, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
We all want lasting joy
Sep 6, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Beware of flattery, it gets in the way of genuine progress
Sep 5, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Practicing philosophy is like going to spiritual gym
Sep 4, 2018 • 1 min
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:…
Adversity is just a gym to exercise your virtue
Sep 3, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Old age, frail and not
Aug 31, 2018 • 2 min
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…
Take care of your body, with temperance
Aug 30, 2018 • 1 min
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:…
How to excel at being human
Aug 29, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Where philosophy begins
Aug 28, 2018 • 2 min
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…
We should study broadly in order to increase understanding
Aug 27, 2018 • 2 min
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…
Choose your entertainment virtuously
Aug 24, 2018 • 2 min
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…
Everything flows, so don’t get attached
Aug 23, 2018 • 2 min
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…
Always do what is in harmony with the common interest
Aug 22, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Do you think you know the difference between good and bad?
Aug 21, 2018 • 3 min
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:…
The difference between proto-emotions and fully formed ones
Aug 20, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
How to get a good night’s sleep
Aug 17, 2018 • 2 min
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. —-…
Self-sufficiency comes from inside, not from externals
Aug 16, 2018 • 1 min
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:…
Death is like pre-birth: there is nothing to be feared
Aug 15, 2018 • 1 min
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…
Practice philosophy constantly, life doesn’t stop
Aug 14, 2018 • 2 min
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…
Learn from teachers who do, not just talk
Aug 13, 2018 • 1 min
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…
Compel Fortuna to play on equal terms
Aug 10, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Pay attention to what others say, inhabit their minds
Aug 9, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Revenge is not justice
Aug 8, 2018 • 1 min
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:…
What’s the problem with the passions?
Aug 7, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
No pain no gain, says Musonius
Aug 6, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
You should live neither in a place of torture nor in a cafe
Aug 3, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Philosophy may be painful or a pleasure, but it’s worth it
Aug 2, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Is the problem with the place, or with you?
Aug 1, 2018 • 1 min
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:…
You want to change the world? Begin by changing yourself
Jul 31, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
A good life depends not on length, but on our use of it
Jul 30, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
What’s really important in your life?
Jul 27, 2018 • 2 min
A straightforward quote by Epictetus allows us to reflect on what a philosophy of life is, and why everyone needs one. —- Support this podcast:
On the difference between philosophy and logic chopping
Jul 26, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Things themselves have no power to form our judgments
Jul 25, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Reflect on the roles you play, and play them well
Jul 24, 2018 • 3 min
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…
Won’t you be my neighbor?
Jul 23, 2018 • 2 min
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:
What do you think is truly good for you?
Jul 20, 2018 • 1 min
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:…
On family matters, take the high moral ground
Jul 19, 2018 • 1 min
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…
Everyone who craves externals is a slave to them
Jul 18, 2018 • 1 min
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.…
Calibrate your desires, achieve serenity
Jul 17, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Don’t buy a horse on the basis of its saddle
Jul 13, 2018 • 2 min
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:
“They are slaves,” nay, rather they are people
Jul 12, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Beware of the difference between friendship and flattery
Jul 11, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Philosophy did not find Plato a nobleman, it made him one
Jul 10, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
What does your inner daimon say?
Jul 9, 2018 • 1 min
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:
How on earth did I get here?
Jul 6, 2018 • 1 min
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:…
Fortune has no jurisdiction over character
Jul 5, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Observe the goodness of those around you
Jul 4, 2018 • 1 min
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:…
Whenever you yield to externals, you become their slave
Jul 3, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Our predecessors are our guides, not our masters
Jul 2, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Be forgiving of liars and unjust people
Jun 29, 2018 • 1 min
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. —-…
But I couldn’t do otherwise! Yes, you could…
Jun 28, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Make yourself happy through your own efforts
Jun 27, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Above all, we are citizens of the world
Jun 26, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Only the truly educated person is free
Jun 25, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Would the Stoics approve of assisted suicide?
Jun 22, 2018 • 2 min
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…
Being bad requires a lot of work
Jun 21, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Teach them then, and show them without being angry
Jun 20, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Go hug a philosopher, will you?
Jun 19, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
We belong to the world, not to a particular corner of it
Jun 18, 2018 • 1 min
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:
It’s either gods or atoms…
Jun 15, 2018 • 2 min
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…
Ethics is a practice, so do it
Jun 14, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Moving will not help you, if your trouble is internal
Jun 13, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
The truth does you no harm, but error does
Jun 12, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
How Epictetus lost his lamp and the thief became a brute
Jun 11, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Sound minds are hard to find, or buy
Jun 8, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Annoyed by people? It’s an opportunity to practice virtue
Jun 7, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Good judgments improve your character
Jun 6, 2018 • 1 min
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. —-…
I may become poor, then I shall be among many
Jun 5, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Always examine your assumptions
Jun 4, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Why do you care for the opinion of posterity?
Jun 1, 2018 • 1 min
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…
Good and evil are entirely up to you
May 31, 2018 • 1 min
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:
The glass is neither half full nor half empty, it just is
May 30, 2018 • 1 min
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:…
Do not seek fame, seek to be useful to others
May 29, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Nobody wants to believe falsehoods, and yet…
May 28, 2018 • 2 min
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…
Think about bad stuff happening, get comfortable with it
May 25, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
After every disturbance, re-center yourself
May 24, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Can you tell the difference between the baths and the mill?
May 23, 2018 • 1 min
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…
Some people get to the end without having lived at all
May 22, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Take care of your body, it helps your virtue
May 21, 2018 • 1 min
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:
No matter what, do your duty as a human being
May 18, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Where are you going to hide from death?
May 17, 2018 • 3 min
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:…
Are you on the right path, or do you need a correction?
May 16, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Think and act the right way, happiness will flow
May 15, 2018 • 2 min
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:
What is philosophy, anyway?
May 14, 2018 • 2 min
Epictetus says that philosophy begins with awareness of one’s mental fitness. So let’s work on that, shall we? —- Support this podcast:
What about pleasure?
May 11, 2018 • 2 min
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:
If this were you last day, what would you be proud of?
May 10, 2018 • 1 min
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:…
Respond to insults as if you were a rock
May 9, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Above all, learn how to feel joy
May 8, 2018 • 2 min
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…
The duty of a social animal capable of reason
May 7, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Epictetus and the open door policy: Stoicism and suicide
May 4, 2018 • 3 min
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…
Take truth wherever you find it, it’s public property
May 3, 2018 • 1 min
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:…
How to calibrate your moral compass
May 2, 2018 • 2 min
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!…
The universe is your trainer, get ready for the Olympics
May 1, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Changing your life doesn’t happen by magic
Apr 30, 2018 • 1 min
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:…
Practice poverty as an exercise in endurance and gratitude
Apr 27, 2018 • 2 min
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. —-…
Praise or blame do not make a thing better or worse
Apr 26, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Focus on what is up to you, the rest may or may not come
Apr 25, 2018 • 3 min
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…
Are you practicing, or just talking?
Apr 24, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
15 minutes of fame? Why would you want that?
Apr 23, 2018 • 2 min
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:
We all agree to do good, but disagree on what good is
Apr 20, 2018 • 1 min
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:
No cell phones at dinner, just friends
Apr 19, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Death is coming, what are you doing in the meantime?
Apr 18, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Whose praise are you so desperately seeking?
Apr 17, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Anger is temporary madness
Apr 16, 2018 • 2 min
Seneca tells us that anger is a form of temporary madness, not to be indulged by the person who cultivates reason. —- Support this podcast:
Do you have reason? Why don’t you use it, then?
Apr 13, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Is your mind in the dark, or are you just blind?
Apr 12, 2018 • 1 min
Epictetus explains why being blind is far less of a problem than having your mind in the dark. —- Support this podcast:
Practice poverty to remind you of the important things
Apr 11, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Change your mind, if others have better reasons
Apr 10, 2018 • 1 min
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:
A crown of roses looks better than one of gold
Apr 9, 2018 • 1 min
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:
How to handle the holidays, Stoically speaking
Apr 6, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Harm comes from opinion, take away the opinion, then
Apr 5, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Practical philosophy is called practical for a reason
Apr 4, 2018 • 2 min
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:
People do bad things because they are fools
Apr 3, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Fate, God, or Chance, it doesn’t really matter
Apr 2, 2018 • 2 min
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:
What are you going to do today to improve the human polis?
Mar 30, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Got a headache? Excellent opportunity to practice endurance!
Mar 29, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Practical philosophy is not an oxymoron
Mar 28, 2018 • 2 min
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:
The universe is transformation, life is opinion
Mar 27, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Ultimately, it is always your decision
Mar 26, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Take care of the body, but don’t treat it as a temple
Mar 23, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Fame is fickle, and irrelevant
Mar 22, 2018 • 2 min
Marcus reminds us that the number of Facebook likes we get is irrelevant to our happiness. —- Support this podcast:
Study logic, reason well about life
Mar 21, 2018 • 1 min
Epictetus reminds his students that without logic there is no serious talking about how to live the life worth living. —- Support this podcast:
Be afraid of the right things
Mar 20, 2018 • 2 min
Seneca says that we often spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about the wrong sorts of things. —- Support this podcast:
How the Stoics saw women’s education
Mar 19, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Nobody does wrong voluntarily
Mar 16, 2018 • 2 min
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:…
Reason is the name of the game
Mar 15, 2018 • 2 min
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:
The truth belongs to everyone
Mar 14, 2018 • 1 min
Seneca explains to his friend Lucilius why on earth he approvingly quotes one of the Stoics’ main rivals, Epicurus. —- Support this podcast:
The inner citadel of peace
Mar 13, 2018 • 1 min
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:…
It takes time for a fig to ripe, or a character to mature
Mar 12, 2018 • 2 min
Epictetus cautions us to be patient while working on improving our character. Nothing important comes into being overnight. —- Support this podcast:
The advantages of old age
Mar 9, 2018 • 2 min
Seneca tells Lucilius to pay attention to the joys of old age, and to be grateful for every day we live. —- Support this podcast:
Fame is fleeting, focus on the here and now
Mar 8, 2018 • 2 min
Marcus Aurelius engages in a view from above meditation, reminding himself that the quest for fame is just plain irrational. —- Support this podcast:
Make sure you work on your faculty of judgment
Mar 7, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Pick a role model
Mar 6, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Philosophy as medicine for the mind
Mar 5, 2018 • 2 min
Musonius Rufus says that philosophy is like medicine: if it does not make you a healthier person, it is not useful. —- Support this podcast:
With great power comes great responsibility
Mar 2, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Keep a sound and upright soul, despise Fortune
Mar 1, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Work for the public good
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
Marcus Aurelius reminds us that we need to work for the public good, not pursue power, fame, or pleasure. —- Support this podcast:
Judgments, Not Externals
Mar 1, 2018 • 2 min
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:
It’s All About Character
Mar 1, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Do The Right Thing, Now
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
Marcus Aurelius says that we need to stand erect of our own accord, not wait to be propped up by others. —- Support this podcast:
Opinions Cause Suffering
Mar 1, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Beware Of The Company You Keep
Mar 1, 2018 • 2 min
Seneca warns us that the path to virtue is easily disrupted by exposing ourselves to temptation and unsavory company. —- Support this podcast:
We Are All Brothers & Sisters
Mar 1, 2018 • 2 min
Hierocles instructs us on a simple mental exercise to practice the Stoic concept of cosmopolitanism. —- Support this podcast:
Philosophy As A Way Of Life
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
Musonius Rufus reminds us why we study philosophy, a different pursuit from what goes on in the modern academy. —- Support this podcast:
Living According To Nature
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
Marcus Aurelius reminds us that to care for all people is according to (human) nature. —- Support this podcast:
Against Nationalism
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Courage Requires Justice
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
Seneca makes the surprising (to some) statement that Stoicism is all about community and sharing. —- Support this podcast:
Use Your Thoughts Well
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Character Is Crucial
Mar 1, 2018 • 2 min
Epictetus says that the measure of a person is the goodness of her character. Let’s work on it, then! —- Support this podcast:
The point of philosophy is…
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
Seneca makes a surprising statement about the primary aim of philosophy. Surprising, that is, if you confuse Stoicism and stoicism… —- Support this podcast:
What happens after death?
Mar 1, 2018 • 2 min
Marcus Aurelius sounds agnostic about the after life. He also seems to think it doesn’t matter. —- Support this podcast:
Beware of superficial judgment
Mar 1, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Wealth not a measure of worth
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
Seneca has a problem with people who measure their worth by fashion or wealth. —- Support this podcast:
Don’t be an imbecile!
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Radical idea: women equality
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
Musonius Rufus says women have the same reasoning abilities as man, the same faculty of distinguishing good from bad. —- Support this podcast:
Remember, everything passes
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
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:
What good did you do today?
Mar 1, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Beware of relying on luck
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Keep your inner demon clean
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
Marcus Aurelius talks about how we should keep our “daimon,” i.e., our deliberating faculty, or our conscience. —- Support this podcast:
Follow the counsel of reason
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
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:
What counts as a good life?
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
Seneca says that the important thing is not how long a life you live, but what you do with it. —- Support this podcast:
What matters is the here & now
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
Marcus Aurelius thinks that it’s good to keep things in perspective, and that we only control the here and now. —- Support this podcast:
Doing beats complaining
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
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:
On death & the value of life
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
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:
What makes your life worth it?
Mar 1, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Caring about your soul
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
Epictetus makes an interesting contrast between taking too much care of our bodies and too little care of our minds. —- Support this podcast:
True friendship is rare
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
Seneca advises us on how to behave with true friends, and reminds us of how important they are in our life. —- Support this podcast:
We are all brothers & sisters
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
Hierocles reminds us that we are fundamentally social animals, and that we are here to help each other. —- Support this podcast:
Practice, practice, practice!
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Clean up your own thinking
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Don’t argue with stones
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
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:
On wealth and virtue
Mar 1, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Use your time well…
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Virtue is a matter of practice
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Find wisdom wherever it is
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
Seneca wanders into Epicurean territory, as a scout, not a traitor. —- Support this podcast:
Opinions cannot hurt you
Mar 1, 2018 • 2 min
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:
On dealing with nasty people
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
Hierocles reminds us how to best respond to another human being who has ill feelings toward us. —- Support this podcast:
Philosophy is about doing
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
Musonius Rufus says that philosophers should speak clearly, and most of all should live the way they talk. —- Support this podcast:
Don’t sell your soul cheap!
Mar 1, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Read well, not a lot
Mar 1, 2018 • 2 min
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:
The duties of friendship
Mar 1, 2018 • 2 min
Marcus reminds us that we have duties toward the people we live with, and how to be positive about our friends. —- Support this podcast:
How to act toward others
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
The second century Stoic Hierocles sounds very Christian, and for good reasons. —- Support this podcast:
Seneca on not wasting time
Mar 1, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Is the wise person self sufficient?
Feb 28, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Take care of your mind, it’s precious
Feb 28, 2018 • 1 min
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:
Don’t do anything that requires a wall or a curtain
Feb 28, 2018 • 2 min
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:
Time to die or to go lunch?
Dec 30, 2017 • 1 min
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:
Don’t postpone, life speeds by
Dec 29, 2017 • 1 min
Seneca tells us that time is a precious commodity, and one that, once loaned, can never be paid back. —- Support this podcast:
Useful vs pedantic knowledge
Dec 27, 2017 • 1 min
Musonius Rufus reminds us of the difference between useful philosophy and dull mind games. —- Support this podcast:
Focus on what is in your power
Dec 26, 2017 • 2 min
Epictetus reminds us of the wisdom of understanding what is and is not under our control. —- Support this podcast:
Marcus on not getting offended
Dec 24, 2017 • 2 min
Marcus Aurelius reminds us that it is a strange thing to get offended by what people say or do. —- Support this podcast:
Epictetus on what is good
Dec 22, 2017 • 1 min
Epictetus teaches us what is truly good in life. —- Support this podcast:
Marcus is thankful
Dec 21, 2017 • 1 min
Marcus Aurelius is thankful to his grandfather and his mother. —- Support this podcast: