Recent essays, #20

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:

Stoicism in three simple steps. Stoicism is a philosophy of life, no different in that respect from a religion. True, Epictetus was not a god, and the Enchiridion is not Scripture. But all religions come with the same two fundamental components that characterize any philosophy of life: a metaphysics, that is, an account of how the world hangs together; and an ethics, that is, an account of how we should live in the world — given the way it hangs together. The major difference between Stoicism and an actual religion, say Christianity, is that Stoics feel free to keep updating and reinterpreting the ancient texts, and that the respective metaphysical axioms are different: naturalism and universal cause-effect for the Stoics, supernaturalism and a creator God for Christians. (continue to read)

The Delphic Commandments.

Four years ago, as part of my sabbatical devoted to writing How to Be a Stoic, I spent a few days in Greece with the primary intent of going after Epictetus. I visited Nicopolis, the Roman town where he went after he was exiled by Domitian in 93 CE. There he established his school and eventually died, probably around 135 CE, when he was about 80.

On my way to Nicopolis (modern day Preveza, in the Epirus region of northwestern Greece), I rented a car from Athens and drove the 370 or so kilometers with my friend Tunc, stopping at Delphi. I had been there before, but the place truly is magical, and was certainly worth a visit on our way to the Ionian coast. (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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