Suggested readings, #22

Here are some interesting articles I’ve come across recently, for your consideration:

Silicon Valley’s Secret Philosophers Should Share Their Work. Tech giants must stop hiring philosophers as pawns, and allow them to make sense of the world tech is molding. (Wired)

Why race science is on the rise again. (Guardian)

Organoids Are Not Brains. How Are They Making Brain Waves? Clusters of living brain cells are teaching scientists about diseases like autism. With a new finding, some experts wonder if these organoids may become too much like the real thing. (New York Times)

Philosopher-Kings In The Kingdom of Ends. On why democracy needs philosopher-citizens. (Philosophy Now)

The problems with online ‘debate me’ culture. Donna Zuckeberger makes several good points. But she absolutely had to make a couple of misguided digs at Stoicism, didn’t she? (Washington Post)

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Stoicon-X New York!

What? You can’t make it to the annual Stoicon in Athens, on October 5th?

Well, that’s a dispreferred indifferent, of course. But you do have an alternative, if you live in New York City: Stoicon-X New York will take place on Thursday, September 19th, at the Society for Ethical Culture.

Join Massimo Pigliucci, author of the new “A Handbook for New Stoics: How to Thrive in a World Out of Your Control,” Don Robertson, author of the new “How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius,” and Bill Irvine, author of the new “The Stoic Challenge: A Philosopher’s Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient” for an exceptional triple feature event beginning at 6pm.

Program:

6:00pm – Welcome to Stoicon-X New York (Massimo Pigliucci)

6:10pm – Don Robertson: How to think like a Roman emperor

6:35pm: Q&A with Don

6:45pm – Bill Irvine: The Stoic challenge

7:10pm – Q&A with Bill

7:20pm – Massimo Pigliucci: How to thrive in a world out of your control

7:45pm – Q&A with Massimo

8:00pm – Book signing by the authors

(Event over by 8:30pm)

About the books:

“In an age that equates virtue with frenzies of outrage and denunciations of others’ failings, A Handbook for New Stoics serves as an inspired self-help cure that, with insight and sympathy, will nudge you in the direction of the happiness and equanimity born of strength of character and wisdom.”—Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of Plato at the Googleplex

“Robertson distills the emperor’s philosophy into useful mental habits…[he] displays a sound knowledge of Marcus’ life and thought…[his] accessible prose style contributes to its appeal…[the] book succeeds on its own terms, presenting a convincing case for the continuing relevance of an archetypal philosopher-king.” ―The Wall Street Journal

“Irvine is a warm and friendly Stoic, and one of the great guides through the subject. His congenial writing offers strategies for the anxiety-free, supple kind of sturdiness with which we should all be greeting ourselves and the world.” ―Derren Brown, mentalist, illusionist, and author of Happy

When: Thursday, 19 September 2019, at 6pm.

RSVP 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 essays, #21

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:

My first three (Stoic) steps. This past weekend my friend (and co-author) Greg Lopez and I run the fifth edition of Stoic Camp-New York. The general topic was Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations as a guide to Stoic practice. We had 19 students, and discussions were informative and constructive, with people having a great time socializing after sessions. During one of these social evenings I was asked how I got into Stoicism in the first place, so I did a bit of digging into my notes, and even on the internet, to reconstruct my initial steps. The first three are, I think, worth recounting, because they may be helpful to others who have found the Stoic way, or are considering it but are not sure what that entails and how to proceed. (continue to read)

Stoic advice: How do I date a single mom (or dad)? A. writes: I’m a reader of your work and a practitioner of Stoicism (thanks to your last handbook for new Stoics). I recently fell in love with a woman. The ‘thing’ is: she has a child, 8 years old. I wish to be my best with her, so I am seeking advice from a Stoic perspective about this kind of relationship (i.e., dating a single mother). I found some terrible article published by the “red pill” community (of which I knew nothing at the time). They used Stoicism to promote character, but at the same time they urge people not to date a single mom because it’s a trap made by women who cannot assume their own responsibilities. I admit I fell for it, because I was impressed by their apparent knowledge (for a layman like me) of Stoicism. I felt so bad that I talk about it with my girlfriend and I almost broke up with her. I’m into Stoicism, and I try to practice the dichotomy of control, but why then did I panic? Why can’t I enjoy my relationship as a preferred indifferent? Do you have some tips about dating a single mom and cultivating wisdom and virtue at the same time?

Let me start with the basics: it shouldn’t take the might of Stoic philosophy to realize that the red pill community is sick in the soul, and that it is insane to say that “women” spend their time springing traps at the expense of men, because they don’t want to take on their own responsibilities. The misogyny that motivates that sort of “thinking” ought to be obvious. (continue to read)

Suggested readings, #21

Here are some interesting articles I’ve come across recently, for your consideration:

Happiness, death & the remainder of life — a little thought experiment. (Philosophy Now)

Quantum Darwinism may (or may not) be the solution to the problem of bridging the gap between quantum and classical physics. One thing for sure, though, contra this article, it has nothing to do with Darwinism. (Quanta Magazine)

Peter Singer pushes back against Jonathan Haidt’s claim that there is no point in teaching moral philosophy. The push, however, is far too gentle, as there are huge flaws in both Haidt’s data and his reasoning. (Korea Herald)

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 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)