Recent essays, #33

Most of my original writings now appear over at Figs In Winter, both on Patreon and Medium. The most recent posts are behind a paywall (monthly subscription at $3 for Patreon, $5 for Medium, but the latter comes with access to additional authors as well). The majority of the material is free to read. Here are some of the most recent entries:

Following in Socrates’ steps: from natural science to moral philosophy

Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be a scientist. Early on, an astronomer. Family lore has it that such decision was reached when I was five years old, while watching the Apollo 11 Moon landing with my grandmother. (Interesting that I didn’t go for the more obvious thing: being an astronaut.) Carl Sagan influenced me when I was in middle school, and the 1976 landing of the Viking probes on Mars seemed to definitely settle my goals: I would become a planetologist!

But gradually, in high school, I became more and more enamored with biology, and eventually I pursued an academic career in evolutionary biology. Which worked out pretty well, resulting in four technical books and 88 technical papers over a span of over two decades.

(continue to read on Patreon, Medium)

Catherine Wilson: an Epicurean is (again) wrong about Stoicism

My CUNY-Graduate Center colleague Catherine Wilson has recently published How to Be an Epicurean, released by Basic Books, the same outlet that put out my own How to Be a Stoic a couple of years ago.

When our publisher asked, I provided the following endorsement for Catherine’s book: “So glad to see our Epicurean cousins back in the game! This is a new golden age of practical philosophy!” Indeed, Stoics and Epicureans battled it out for dominance as public philosophy in the ancient world, and I have already commented on the main differences between the two approaches.

After the book came out, I invited Catherine to the New York Society for Ethical Culture to have a friendly conversation. It was a fun event, but it highlighted once again for me a pattern that I have noticed over and over during the past few years: lots of people get Stoicism wrong, including academics.

(continue to read on Patreon, Medium)

Published by

Massimo

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

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