Recent Stoic Meditations, #23

When Fortuna allows, I publish a short morning meditation based on a short quote from a Stoic writer, seeking to apply that ancient wisdom to life in the 21st century. Here are the most recent entries:

The Stoics are materialists, in the sense that they believe that anything that has causal powers must be made of stuff, whatever that stuff turns out to be. (listen here)

The wisest approach is to not commit to opinions until we have strong evidence in their favor, or to hold opinions very lightly, and not attach our ego to them. (listen here)

If you have some sand and you start adding grains, when do you have a heap? Chrysippus’ answer to this sort of paradox will leave logicians frustrated and the rest of us with something to think about. (listen here)

The Academic Skeptics were one of the major rival schools to Stoicism. Yet, on the nature of human knowledge, and on what it means in practice, for everyday living, the two philosophies were not very far apart. (listen here)

Let’s learn why the middle-Stoic Panaetius disagreed on a major point of “physics” with the early Stoics: he didn’t believe in divination! (listen here)

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Recent Stoic Meditations, #22

When Fortuna allows, I publish a short morning meditation based on a short quote from a Stoic writer, seeking to apply that ancient wisdom to life in the 21st century. Here are the most recent entries:

Blame is not a Stoic thing. We bear responsibility for what we do, of course, but to blame people isn’t particularly useful. As Marcus Aurelius says, teach them, if you can, or bear with them. (listen here)

Virtue can only be perfected by reason; all virtues are really just one, namely, wisdom; virtue is intrinsically good; and one needs to continuously practice in order to be virtuous. (listen here)

Zeno of Citium, the founder of the Stoic sect, says that there are three sets of things in the world: virtue, things according or contra to nature, and neutral things. From which a solid moral compass for everyday living follows. (listen here)

Socrates was the first to draw philosophy away from matters of an abstruse character, in which all the philosophers before his time had been wholly occupied, and to have diverted it to the objects of ordinary life. (listen here)

Cicero begins his treatise Academica by seeking a medicine for his sorrows in philosophy. (listen here)

Recent Stoic Meditations, #21

When Fortuna allows, I publish a short morning meditation based on a short quote from a Stoic writer, seeking to apply that ancient wisdom to life in the 21st century. Here are the most recent entries:

Just like a catchy tune won’t leave your mind easily, once it has gained access, so with thoughts of unvirtuous actions. So don’t grant them entrance in the first place. (listen here)

Paris stole Menelaus’ wife, Helen, thereby starting the Trojan War. He did that because he assented to the impression that it was good to pursue the wife of his host, and that misjudgment resulted in ten years of misery for so many. (listen here)

And what is this Good? I shall tell you: it is a free mind, an upright mind, subjecting other things to itself and itself to nothing. (listen here)

Avoiding pain and seeking pleasure comes natural to human beings. But, so argue the Stoics, being prosocial is even more fundamental to our nature as social animals. (listen here)

Recent Stoic Meditations, #20

When Fortuna allows, I publish a short morning meditation based on a short quote from a Stoic writer, seeking to apply that ancient wisdom to life in the 21st century. Here are the most recent entries:

Nothing need provoke our anger if we do not add to our pile of troubles by getting angry. (listen here)

Stoicism is not good for consumerism. (listen here)

How to tell a Stoic (from a non Stoic). (listen here)

The right attitude about the world. (listen here)

Everything tastes good if you are hungry. (listen here)

Recent Stoic Meditations, #19

When Fortuna allows, I publish a short morning meditation based on a short quote from a Stoic writer, seeking to apply that ancient wisdom to life in the 21st century. Here are the most recent entries:

There are, as you know, vices which are next-door to virtues. Carelessness looks like ease, and rashness like bravery. (listen here)

It’s relatively easy to stay on the right track by following simple methods, but there are countless ways to go wrong if we don’t pay attention. Here are three basic rules from Stoic philosophy to keep your life on the right track. (listen here)

How do we strike a good balance between cultivating externals, like wealth, and focusing on the improvement of our own character? Different philosophical schools gave different answers to this question. (listen here)

Philosophers have debated for millennia the nature of ethics. Is it arbitrary? Or are there universal moral laws that we can apprehend through reason? Neither, say the Stoics. Theirs is a thoroughly naturalistic philosophy. (listen here)

Desires have to be reined in, fear to be suppressed, proper actions to be arranged, debts to be paid; we therefore include self-restraint, bravery, prudence, and justice among the virtues – assigning to each quality its special function. (listen here)

Recent Stoic Meditations, #18

When Fortuna allows, I publish a short morning meditation based on a short quote from a Stoic writer, seeking to apply that ancient wisdom to life in the 21st century. Here are the most recent entries:

He who has much, desires more – a proof that he has not yet acquired enough; but he who has enough has attained that which never fell to the rich man’s lot – a stopping-point. (listen here)

No doubt you have seen dogs playing with, and fawning before, each other, and thought, ‘Nothing could be friendlier.’ But just throw some meat in the middle, and then you’ll know what friendship amounts to. (listen here)

The Stoics understood what bodily health is, and from that they deduced the existence of a certain mental health also. They knew about bodily strength, and from that they inferred the existence of mental sturdiness. (listen here)

The Stoics regard nothing as good which can be put to wrong use by any person. And we can all see for ourselves to what wrong uses many people put their riches, their high position, or their physical powers. (listen here)

Externals — such as money, possessions, and the like — are how we exercise our virtue, which cannot be expressed in a vacuum. And one of the four cardinal virtues is temperance. (listen here)

Recent Stoic Meditations, #17

When Fortuna allows, I publish a short morning meditation based on a short quote from a Stoic writer, seeking to apply that ancient wisdom to life in the 21st century. Here are the most recent entries:

Fortune sometimes favors villains and turns against good people. That’s why our happiness should depend on our own decisions, not the vagaries of chance. (listen here)

We take a lot of things for granted, when life is going well for us. But — fools that we are — we really appreciate what we had only once we’ve lost it. That’s why the Stoics devised a series of exercises in mild self-deprivation. (listen here)

Here is a basic Stoic equation: external thing or activity + virtue = good, while its opposite is: external thing or activity + vice = bad. So, is your profession good or bad, according to this approach? (listen here)

People think that externals are good, and then, after having won their wish, and suffered much, they find them evil, or empty, or less important than they had expected. (listen here)

In order to live a meaningful life (ethics) we need to reason well about things (logic), and we need to have a good grasp of how the world works (science). How are your logic and science, then? (listen here)