A philosophy of living, similar to a religion, explains the human condition and provides a moral and spiritual guide for how we can navigate identified challenges. It directs our behavior and helps us understand the significance of what we experience.
Originating in the ancient Greco-Roman world, Stoicism is a life philosophy that places reason at the center of human flourishing. For a Stoic, living well means developing one’s moral character through logic and mindfulness. Virtue is the highest good. By focusing on what we can control and accepting what we can’t, a Stoic tackles the world with equanimity.
Jeffrey Howard speaks with Derek Parsons, an educator with a bachelor’s degree in English and history and a master’s in educational administration. He serves as a contributing editor for Erraticus and co-hosts the Open Door Philosophy podcast. In this episode, he introduces us to ancient Stoics such as Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius, explains the recent resurgence of Stoicism, and reflects on the benefits this 2300-year-old philosophy of living has for us moderns.
A few questions on Stoic thought. Why are we wrong to view the Stoic as detached and emotionally muted? Does Stoicism allow for a variety of religious views, including a belief in God? What are the potential pitfalls of focusing too much on developing one’s moral character? And which philosophies of living couple well with Stoicism?
How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life by Massimo Pigliucci (2017)
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
The Discourses by Epictetus
Letters from a Stoic by Seneca
Better Better: Stoicism for a World Worth Living In by Kai Whiting and Leonidas Konstantakos (2021)
“News-fatigued? Read Stoic Philosophy and Poetry” by Rachel Hadas (2018)
“Ecstatic Experience: How the West Can Find Itself by Losing Control” by Jeffrey Howard (2018)