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)

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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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