Recent essays, #9

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:

Stoic advice: I’m in love, and terrified to lose her. M. writes: Recently, I’ve been very fortunate to get in a relationship with someone I fancy, respect, and empathize with, a lot. I love her, very much. So much so, every day after work, I sit down and read books about how to love better, as I try to understand this strange, yet touching feeling. I want to learn to love her, not just the feeling. The problem is, I’m extremely scared of her leaving me. In all of my past relationships, I’ve been cheated on (my ex, for example, is currently engaged with my “best friend”). So, after that, I find it incredibly hard to trust anyone. More than simply romantic relationships, my parents too, when I was young, kept threatening each other to leave/kill themselves when shit went wrong. So, as a result, I’ve developed an anxious attachment style. (continue to read)

Thoreau’s Journal: on writing (why and how). I have already written a couple of essays on Henry David Thoreau (here and here), because his brand of personal philosophy — within the broader umbrella of American Transcendentalism — fits very much the mold of practical philosophy to which Figs in Winter is devoted. Here I wish to briefly comment on some excerpts from his personal journal (published as part of a broader collection edited by Jeffrey S. Cramer), partly because of its inherent interest, and partly because of course journaling is a major Stoic technique (as evident from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations), though implemented somewhat differently from what Thoreau does. (continue to read)

Here’s how to practice Stoicism and de-stress — Even if you’re a complete beginner. An excerpt from A Handbook for New Stoics, focusing how to carry out the evening meditation exercise, an approach known in modern psychotherapy as cognitive journaling. (continue to read)

Is going to a strip club or following hot people on Instagram cheating? An interview I did recently with ABC-Australia on the application of virtue ethics to a peculiar everyday ethical problem: micro-cheating. “Ask your friends whether visiting a strip club, watching porn or following hot people on Instagram is cheating, and you’ll likely get mixed responses.” (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.