Recent essays, #7

Most of my original writings now appear over at Figs In Winter, my Patreon site devoted to practical philosophy. The most recent posts are behind a paywall (monthly subscription levels at $1, $3, and $5), but the majority of the material is free to read. Here are some of the most recent entries:

How I learned to stop worrying and rediscover the ancient philosophy of Stoicism. The great insight of the philosophy of Stoicism is : shaping your character is the only thing under your control. This article is an excerpt from “A Handbook for New Stoics: How to Thrive in a World Out of Your Control” by Massimo Pigliucci and Gregory Lopez, 2019. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. (continue to read)

The perils of neuro-philosophy. The more I reflect on what I write, the more I flatter myself that I’ve slowly but surely become a gadfly for a number of communities: “skeptics” who are too quick to dismiss and ridicule, scientists who embrace the excesses of scientism, and philosophers who engage in dubious or even pseudo-philosophy. Or maybe it’s just a leftover effect from watching the wonderful “Socrates” by Tim Blake Nelson. Be that as it may (and hoping nobody’s going to give me some hemlock), today is the turn of neuro-philosopher Nayef Al-Rodhan, who wrote a recent piece for the blog of the American Philosophical Association. (continue to read)

Socrates on stage, with notes on the problem with democracy. The other night I went to see “Socrates,” a play (currently at the Public Theater in New York), by Tim Blake Nelson, with the title character played by an awesome Michael Stuhlbarg. (In the accompanying photo, he is facing his disciple, Plato, on the right, played by the impressive Teagle F. Bougere). Despite the mandatory grumpiness by New York Times’ reviewer Laura Collins-Hughes, the play is well worth seeing, and not just for people interested in Ancient Greek philosophy. The performance is almost three hours long, and yet it feels like a breeze because you can’t take your eyes off Stuhlbarg whenever he is on stage, nor can you avoid being transported in the time and place of Socrates, in part because of the set, designed by Scott Pask (the walls include passages from Pericles’ funeral oration — in Greek). (continue to read)

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Massimo is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He blogs at and He is the author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.

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