Stoic Meditations

Stoic Meditations

By Massimo Pigliucci
Occasional reflections on the wisdom of Ancient Greek and Roman philosophers. More at massimopigliucci.com. Please consider supporting Stoic Meditations. (cover art by Marek Škrabák; original music by Ian Jolin-Rasmussen, www.jolinras.info).
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Why should we be good?

Stoic Meditations

Why should we be good?

Stoic Meditations

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The tyrant will not be able to hide
A cruel reign is disordered and hidden in darkness, and while all shake with terror at the sudden explosions, not even he who caused all this disturbance escapes unharmed.
02:26
August 5, 2020
Beware of the corruption of the justice system
Seneca reminds us that prosecutors and judges might be corrupted, and that we have to take this into account when we act.
02:36
August 4, 2020
Do not support leaders who drag their office into the mud
Seneca issues a stern reminder to Nero about the responsibilities of government. It can all too easily be applied today.
02:31
August 3, 2020
War is cruelty on a massive scale
Seneca warns that the cruelty of people in charge of government can have massive consequences.
02:28
July 31, 2020
When you hurt others, you hurt yourself
Seneca reminds Nero, and us, that not doing the right thing is first and foremost injurious to ourselves.
02:36
July 30, 2020
Seneca and the Peter Parker principle
With great power comes great responsibility, as both Seneca and Spider-Man agree.
02:48
July 29, 2020
Let us err on the side of clemency
Seneca makes an epistemic argument to convince us that it is better to err on the side of clemency, rather than punishment.
02:42
July 28, 2020
Clemency helps the innocent and the virtuous
Seneca makes an argument in favor of a broad conception of clemency, not just on behalf of the guilty, but of the innocent and the virtuous.
02:53
July 27, 2020
Is Nero going to "forget" his character?
Seneca flatters Nero at the same time as he issues veiled threats to the new emperor, in case he steers from the right path.
02:30
July 24, 2020
Seneca offers himself as a mirror for Nero's soul
We begin the study of the controversial On Clemency, through which Seneca tried to steer Nero's course for the good of the Roman people.
03:03
July 23, 2020
Overcome your fear of death and you will be free and powerful
Epictetus and Seneca agree: our own death is the ultimate test of our character, and philosophy is a long journey to prepare us for it.
02:49
July 22, 2020
What is and is not up to us
'What then, if I fall ill?' You shall bear illness well. 'Who shall tend me?' God, and your friends. 'I shall lie on a hard bed.' But you can do it like a man.
02:51
July 21, 2020
Consider how much control you have, and what follows from that
When you think about it, it turns out that we have far less control over things and people than we think, and therefore far less blame.
02:45
July 20, 2020
You can get better immediately, it's up to you
Epictetus says that our moral improvement is not like the Olympic Games: when we fail, we can resume immediately, not having to wait four years.
02:44
July 17, 2020
If you are in Gyara, live as one who is in Gyara
Epictetus advises us to live the life we have, in the place we are, rather than indulge in regret for what we may have lost.
02:47
July 16, 2020
How to practice and what to practice
Epictetus gives us a very practical pointer about how to incorporate Stoic precepts in our lives.
02:35
July 15, 2020
Do not wish for figs in winter
There is a proper time for everything, including enjoying your loved ones. Keep it in mind, before they're gone.
02:48
July 14, 2020
Stoics have a duty to work toward social and political change
Epictetus tells us what happens when a person is truly free. Tyrants begin to tremble.
02:41
July 13, 2020
Why should we be good?
At Olympia you do not want anything else; you are content to have been crowned at Olympia. Does it seem to you so small and worthless a thing to be noble and good and happy?
02:36
July 10, 2020
Enjoy figs in the summer, don't wish for them in the winter
How can you wish at the same time to grow old and not to see the death of any that you love?
02:30
July 9, 2020
Practicing philosophy is like going to the doctor's office
Friends, the school of a philosopher is a hospital. When you leave, you should have suffered, not enjoyed yourself.
02:23
July 8, 2020
Focus on the deed, not the praise
‘He’s a clever young man and a fan of rhetoric.’ ‘How do you know?’ ‘He praises me.’ Oh, well, that proves it, of course.
02:37
July 7, 2020
Your roles in life
Let us play our roles in life well. Not acting lik a sheep, gently but at random; nor destructively, like a wild beast.
03:05
July 6, 2020
The ultimate locus of your freedom
Look, can you be forced to assent to what appears to you wrong?’ ‘No.’ ‘Or to dissent from the plain truth?’ ‘No.’ ‘Then you see you do have within you a share of freedom.’
02:38
July 3, 2020
Who are you, anyway?
My mind represents for me my medium – like wood to a carpenter, or leather to a shoemaker. The goal in my case is the correct use of impressions.
03:06
July 2, 2020
It's about deeds, not words
So you can talk the right talk about Stoicism. But do you also walk the right walk?
02:42
July 1, 2020
A philosophy needs to be digested properly, not just vomited
Those who have learnt precepts and nothing more are anxious to give them out at once, just as men with weak stomachs vomit food.
02:24
June 30, 2020
Reframing problems into training exercises
I have a bad neighbor – bad, that is, for himself. For me, though, he is good: he exercises my powers of fairness and sociability.
02:32
June 29, 2020
When the universe sends you a sparring partner
A boxer derives the greatest advantage from his sparring partner – and my accuser is my sparring partner. He trains me in patience, civility and even temper.
02:25
June 26, 2020
Don't make yourself a salve of others
For God’s sake, stop honoring externals, quit turning yourself into the tool of mere matter, or of people who can supply you or deny you those material things.
02:15
June 25, 2020
What is truly good or bad
‘Being healthy is good, being sick is bad.’ No, my friend: enjoying health in the right way is good; making bad use of your health is bad.
02:18
June 24, 2020
Examine your values carefully
When people say that the unjust person is better off because he has more money, what exactly is their system of values?
02:20
June 23, 2020
The character gap
Keep well out of the sun, then, so long as your principles are as pliant as wax.
02:16
June 22, 2020
The fine trappings of a horse
Are you proud of things for which you don't really deserve credit? Or for things that are not important? Reflect on this, and set your priorities straight.
02:23
June 19, 2020
Are you alone or lonely?
Epictetus reminds us to draw a distinction between our objective situation and the way we feel about it.
02:23
June 18, 2020
Ask your impressions for the right password
We should always examine our impressions and ask whether they pass the test: are they in according with reason?
02:36
June 17, 2020
How to deal with a difficult relative
'My brother ought not to have behaved so to me.' No, but it is his business to look to that; however he may behave, I will deal with him as I ought.
02:49
June 16, 2020
What is always within your power
If now is the time for fever, take your fever in the right way; if for thirst, thirst in the right way, if for hunger, hunger aright. Is it not in your power? Who will hinder you?
02:27
June 15, 2020
Philosophical journaling
Epictetus explains one of the most powerful techniques in the Stoic toolkit for a better and more meaningful life.
02:38
June 12, 2020
The problem with wealth is that it doesn't guarantee you a sound mind
You have vessels of gold, but your reason--judgements, assent, impulse, will--is of common clay.
02:28
June 11, 2020
That is tyranny, not government
Epictetus argues that rational creatures will always oppose tyrannical governments.
02:52
June 10, 2020
Argue less, practice more
Epictetus draws a distinction between philosophy pursued for its own sake and philosophy as the art of life.
02:30
June 9, 2020
What do you like to tend to?
Socrates liked to daily monitor his moral self-improvement. How can we do the same?
02:44
June 8, 2020
Contemplating your final activity
Epictetus asks us to think about what we'd like to be doing when death will overtake us. It's an interesting exercise in self-knowledge.
02:10
June 5, 2020
Facts don't come with judgments attached to them
What, after all, are sighing and crying, except opinions? What is ‘misfortune’? An opinion. And sectarian strife, dissension, blame and accusation, ranting and raving – they all are mere opinion.
02:55
June 4, 2020
The raw material of the good person
Epictetus reminds us that to become a better person we need to apply our reasoning faculty to arrive at better judgments.
02:38
June 3, 2020
We need to be human beings, not statues
Epictetus puts to rest the notion that Stoics are supposed to suppress their emotions.
02:34
June 2, 2020
The three disciplines of Epictetus
There are three areas of training in Stoic ethics: to desire the proper things, to act properly in the world, and to arrive at the best possible judgments.
02:59
June 1, 2020
Socrates and Alcibiades
Epictetus stresses the difference between physical and inner beauty.
02:32
May 29, 2020
Give yourself a break (from externals)
Seneca notices that people fear old age in part because they fear irrelevance. But no one is irrelevant so long as they keep striving to be better human beings.
02:41
May 28, 2020
Free yourself from the fickleness of others
People who seek external goods become the slaves of those who happen to have the power to grant such goods.
02:56
May 27, 2020
Pay attention to the ledger of your life
What sort of things are truly important in your life, and why? Should you be reconsidering your current priorities?
02:28
May 26, 2020
How to avoid a wretched life
People with misguided priorities live a wretched life, so let's get our priorities straight and aim for a serene existence instead.
02:35
May 25, 2020
On the futility of war
Seneca writes a poignant passage reminding us of the futile waste of human life that war is.
03:14
May 22, 2020
Past, present, and future
Seneca reminds us what is the proper Stoic attitude toward past, present, and future.
02:48
May 21, 2020
The immortality of philosophy
Honors, statues, and wealth, don't last much after one's death. Philosophy is forever.
02:45
May 20, 2020
Try some true friends instead
The philosophers of the past are your true friends: they give wisdom without asking for money, or imperiling your life.
02:53
May 19, 2020
Have a conversation with Socrates or Epicurus
Seneca reminds us of the span of philosophical inquiry, and of how delightful it is to engage with the greatest minds from across time and cultures.
02:53
May 18, 2020
Spend time in good company
Read the great minds of humanity, those that have insights on how to live a meaningful life.
03:00
May 15, 2020
On the treatment of humans and animals
Seneca criticizes the slaughter of people and animals for the sake of entertainment. Today, the suffering continues, in slaughterhouses.
02:57
May 14, 2020
How to properly go to the barber
Thought experiment: if you knew you were to die soon, what sort of things would you prioritize, and what let go of entirely?
02:39
May 13, 2020
The three periods of life
The mind that is untroubled and tranquil has the power to roam into all the parts of its life.
02:32
May 12, 2020
How to get to old age
Old age surprises people while their minds are still childish, and they come to it unprepared and unarmed, for they have made no provision for it.
02:42
May 11, 2020
Live in the here and now
The greatest hindrance to living is expectancy, which depends upon the morrow and wastes to-day.
02:40
May 8, 2020
Postponement is the greatest waste of life
Life will follow the path it started upon, and will neither reverse nor check its course; it will make no noise, it will not remind you of its swiftness.
02:36
May 7, 2020
Are you on a voyage, or just tossed about by the currents of life?
There is no reason for you to think that any man has lived long because he has grey hairs or wrinkles; he has not lived long — he has existed long.
02:49
May 6, 2020
Learning how to live, and how to die
It takes the whole of life to learn how to live, and — what will perhaps make you wonder more — it takes the whole of life to learn how to die.
02:28
May 5, 2020
Set aside time to better yourself
Are you not ashamed to set apart for wisdom only that time which cannot be devoted to any business?
02:38
May 1, 2020
Time to change your plans, right now
Examine how you spend your time, decide how to improve, and don't wait until tomorrow to chance.
02:47
April 30, 2020
Time vs money
We are very careful with the management of our money, but far less so with that of our most precious commodity: time.
02:21
April 29, 2020
Much of your life is not up to you
The part of life we really live is small. For all the rest of existence is not life, but merely time.
02:16
April 28, 2020
Life is long enough
It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it.
02:35
April 27, 2020
On the shortness of life
Is life too short? Depends on what you do with it.
02:44
April 24, 2020
We ought to take care of everyone
To do philosophy means to reason and act correctly toward others.
02:34
April 23, 2020
The problem with luxury
While wealth is a preferred indifferent, luxury is more problematic, from a Stoic perspective.
02:31
April 22, 2020
The importance of experience and self-control
Musonius Rufus says that the combination of experience and self-control allow us to do what is right by others and ourselves.
02:29
April 21, 2020
Think about the long term consequences of your actions
Musonius Rufus contrasts the short duration of a shameful pleasure with the lingering regret that will follow.
02:26
April 20, 2020
The philosophy school is like the doctor's office
The philosopher’s school is a doctor’s office. You must leave not pleased, but pained, because you do not come in healthy.
02:33
April 17, 2020
You made the only mistake you could possibly make
A rare glimpse into the life of young Epictetus, when he gets criticized by his teacher, Musonius Rufus.
02:40
April 16, 2020
What we should concern ourselves with
Musonius Rufus clearly states how to implement the dichotomy of control in our lives.
02:44
April 15, 2020
How to save $1000 by challenging impressions.
Musonius Rufus reminds us that our most precious faculty is our ability to challenge impressions
02:47
April 14, 2020
Patterning ourselves after Zeus
Musonius Rufus is confronted by a critic about what it means to live according to Zeus, or Nature.
03:00
April 13, 2020
Don't try to reason with those who can't hear
Words of advice and warning administered when a person’s emotions are at their height and boiling over, accomplish little or nothing.
02:37
April 10, 2020
Take care of your mind just like you do of your body
In order to protect ourselves we must live like doctors and be continually treating ourselves with reason.
02:24
April 9, 2020
Practice what you preach
Don’t expect to tell others what they should do when they know that you do what you shouldn’t.
02:21
April 8, 2020
On being useful to others
It is not proper for one to die who is helpful to many while he is alive, unless by dying he is helpful to more.
02:30
April 7, 2020
Make your last choice while you still can
Choose to die well while you can; wait too long, and it might become impossible to do so.
02:41
April 6, 2020
Shameful speech undermines your character
If we speak badly, we think badly, and we are more likely to act badly.
02:25
April 3, 2020
Pain vs pleasure
Musonius Rufus reminds us to be on guard concerning the effects that both pain and pleasure may have on our character.
02:43
April 2, 2020
The importance of self-control
Self-control, often referred to as the fourth cardinal virtue of temperance, is crucial to Stoicism and other philosophies of life.
02:49
April 1, 2020
Criticizing tyrants is not enough
Musonius Rufus reminds us that we might have the same bad inclinations as other people, so we should start working on ourselves first.
02:44
March 31, 2020
Live in the here and now
Musonius Rufus reminds us that we can, and should, only live in the present.
02:28
March 30, 2020
The interplay between nature and wisdom
Cicero deploys a beautiful metaphor to encapsulate the Stoic theory of moral developmental psychology.
02:55
March 27, 2020
What wisdom is for
Wisdom is what allows us to use everything well. Things like money or education have no intrinsic value, they become valuable if we use them correctly.
02:40
March 26, 2020
Live according to nature
Cicero provides three interpretations of the famous Stoic motto, live according to nature.
03:02
March 25, 2020
The virtues of sound reasoning and scientific understanding
The Stoics adopted four ethical virtues, but also two epistemic ones: good reasoning and scientific understanding.
03:18
March 24, 2020
On friendship
Friendship is intrinsically choice-worthy, going beyond just instrumental value.
02:32
March 23, 2020
Our social duties
Cicero explains how the wise person is supposed to be involved in society, politics, and family.
03:16
March 20, 2020
On private property
The Stoic take on private property is that it isn't really property: it's on temporary loan from the universe.
02:37
March 19, 2020
Sociability, not pleasure
Cicero proposes a simple argument for why sociability, not pleasure, is the ultimate human desire.
02:23
March 17, 2020
Expanding our circle of concerns
We learn the rudiments of ethics within our family. But we cannot stop there.
03:18
March 16, 2020
On suicide
Cicero explains what criterion the Stoic uses to decide whether to walk through the open door.
03:02
March 13, 2020
On fame: Chrysippus agrees with Diogenes
Despite the fact that Stoics and Cynics treated externals differently, apparently both Chrysippus and Diogenes thought fame not worth stretching a finger for.
02:33
March 12, 2020
Why some indifferents are preferred
Cicero tells us that some indifferents are preferred for their own sake, some for the results they bring, some for both reasons.
03:17
March 11, 2020
Stoicism, Cynicism, and Aristotelianism
Stoicism occupies a logical space between the kin philosophies of Cynicism and Aristotelianism.
03:41
March 10, 2020
The drowning man metaphor
Virtue is all or nothing, and yet we can make progress toward it. How does this Stoic paradox work?
02:45
March 9, 2020
More on Aristotelians vs Stoics
Cicero explains how Aristotelians and Stoics treat externals, such as health, wealth, and so on.
03:34
March 6, 2020
On pain and mind
Cicero reminds us that how we experience pain -- both physical and emotional -- in part depends on how we mentally approach the experience.
02:37
March 5, 2020
Aristotelianism vs Stoicism
Aristotelianism and Stoicism differ in their conceptions of eudaimonia, the kind of life we should pursue. In a sense, they are both right.
03:10
March 4, 2020
Intentions vs consequences
Unlike much modern thinking in moral philosophy, Stoicism is about intentions. Which doesn't mean Stoics don't care about consequences.
03:32
March 3, 2020
Living according to nature
Cicero reminds us of the quintessential Stoic motto: we should live in accordance with nature. It's a crucial concept, spanning the arc of ancient Stoicism, from Zeno of Citium to Marcus Aurelius.
02:42
March 2, 2020
Why a good life is a moral life
Cicero articulates a Stoic syllogism aiming at demonstrating that the good life is a moral life. We look at whether the syllogism is valid and sound.
03:24
February 28, 2020
The chief good is the moral good
The wise person is happy because she is in complete control of the chief good in life: the moral good. Everything else is a preferred or dispreferred (moral) indifferent.
02:46
February 27, 2020
The metaphor of the archer
Cicero explains the notions of preferred indifferents and of the dichotomy of control by means of one of the most famous metaphors in Stoic literature: a discussion what is and is not up to an archer attempting to hit a target.
03:15
February 25, 2020
The mixed roots of virtue
According to Stoic moral developmental psychology we begin life as self centered organisms, whose prosocial behavior develops initially by instinct, and then proceeds further with the aid of reason.
02:53
February 25, 2020
Things that have value outside of virtue
Things like health and wealth are choiceworthy. But what gives them value is, specifically, that they are the raw materials through which we exercise our chief good: virtue.
02:55
February 24, 2020
Our natural delight in the use of reason
Cicero explains that human beings are naturally drawn to the use of reason, beginning when they are children. He also talks about the Stoic concept of katalepsis, the kind of impression so strong that it is undeniable.
03:07
February 20, 2020
The root of virtue: self love
Cicero has Cato the Younger explain a fundamental concept of Stoic developmental psychology: how virtue is rooted in innate self love, and how we do things that are good for us regardless of pleasure and pain.
03:11
February 19, 2020
The crucial importance of technical words
Cicero explains why philosophy needs a technical vocabulary, and we look at the sort of issues this may cause when talking to people who are unfamiliar with such vocabulary.
02:59
February 18, 2020
Virtue vs pleasure
At the onset of book III of Cicero's De Finibus, Cato the Younger explain the difference between the Epicurean and Stoic positions on the respective values of pleasure and virtue.
03:00
February 17, 2020
Teach or endure
People exist for the sake of one another. Teach them then or bear with them.
02:45
February 14, 2020
Two scenarios for the after-death
Marcus Aurelius contemplates two possible scenarios for what happens after we die. Neither one of which justifies our fears on the matter. Better to focus instead on the fact that we are alive, here and now.
02:51
February 13, 2020
What is properly ours and what is not
Marcus Aurelius reminds us that just as we do not control other people's bodies, so we do not control their opinions and judgments. We should, therefore, be concerned chiefly with improving our own.
02:28
February 12, 2020
Of bitter cucumbers and thorny briars
“A cucumber is bitter.” Throw it away. “There are briars in the road.” Turn aside from them. This is enough. Do not add, “And why were such things made in the world?”
02:17
February 11, 2020
The inner citadel
The mind that is free from passions is a citadel, for we have nothing more secure to which we can fly for refuge and repel every attack.
02:41
February 10, 2020
The courage to stay
Marcus Aurelius reminds himself that if life is unbearable, one has the option to leave. But we have a duty, toward ourselves and others, to stay, if at all possible.
02:32
February 7, 2020
Value judgments are not inherent in things
If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs you, but your own judgment about it. And it is in your power to wipe out this judgment now.
02:27
February 6, 2020
Achieving ataraxia
Take me and cast me where you will; for there I shall keep my divine part tranquil, that is, content, if it can feel and act conformably to its proper constitution.
02:31
February 5, 2020
On fame, posthumous or not
Those who rather pursue posthumous fame do not consider that the people of tomorrow will be exactly like these whom they cannot bear now; and both are mortal.
02:35
February 4, 2020
Three things to care about
It is my delight to keep the ruling faculty sound without turning away from any of the things that happen to people, but looking at and receiving all with welcoming eyes and using everything according to its value.
02:15
February 3, 2020
The nuanced conflict between pleasure and virtue
I see no virtue that is opposed to justice; but I see a virtue that is opposed to love of pleasure, and that is temperance.
02:32
January 31, 2020
How not to get overwhelmed by problems
Do not let your thoughts at once embrace all the various troubles that you may expect to befall you: but on every occasion ask yourself, What is there in this that is intolerable and past bearing?
02:46
January 30, 2020
A prepared mind is a mark of wisdom
All things happen in a more endurable fashion to people who are prepared for them.
02:22
January 29, 2020
The true meaning of human freedom
Freedom consists in raising one’s mind superior to injuries and becoming a person whose pleasures come from himself alone.
02:15
January 28, 2020
When it comes to people insulting you, you are in complete control
It is a sort of revenge to spoil a man’s enjoyment of the insult he has offered to us … the success of an insult lies in the sensitiveness and rage of the victim.
02:13
January 27, 2020
The insult conundrum
Do these things befall me deservedly or undeservedly? If deservedly, it is not an insult, but a judicial sentence; if undeservedly, then he who does injustice ought to blush, not I.
02:10
January 24, 2020
The best way to respond to insults
When insulted, Cato did not flare up and revenge the outrage, he did not even pardon it, but ignored it, showing more magnanimity in not acknowledging it than if he had forgiven it.
02:39
January 23, 2020
Rich people are worse than beggars
The wise man will not admire himself even if many rich men admire him; for he knows that they differ in no respect from beggars — nay, are even more wretched than they; for beggars want but a little, whereas rich men want a great deal.
02:24
January 22, 2020
On the invulnerability of the wise person
Wise persons are without anger, which is caused by the appearance of injury. And they could not be free from anger unless they were also free from injury, which they know cannot be done to them.
02:33
January 21, 2020
Is sagehood possible?
Seneca argues that Cato the Younger was a sage, but a modern biography casts some doubt on that. Do sages ever walk the earth? Who would you put forth as your favorite candidate?
02:56
January 20, 2020
How to react to both prosperity and adversity
Bear adversity with calm and prosperity with moderation, neither yielding to the former nor trusting to the latter.
02:16
January 17, 2020
The simplified dichotomy of control
Fortune can take nothing away save what she gave. Now fortune does not give virtue; therefore she does not take it away.
02:18
January 16, 2020
The meaning of invulnerability
Invulnerable is not that which is never struck, but that which is never wounded. In this class I will show you the wise person.
02:27
January 15, 2020
We are free no matter what
"For Cato did not outlive freedom, nor did freedom outlive Cato." On the Stoic conception of suicide.
02:30
January 14, 2020
The path to virtue is not as steep as some may think
“But the way by which we are asked to climb is steep and uneven.” What then? Can heights be reached by a level path? Yet they are not so sheer and precipitous as some think.
02:33
January 13, 2020
The joke's on the thief
Nobody wants to do what is bad for them. So when the thief steals, he is under the wrong impression about what is and is not good for him. We should therefore pity him, and help him understand, if possible.
02:46
January 10, 2020
The importance of logic
A student asks Epictetus whether we should really bother to learn logic. "Would you like me to provide you with an argument?" Yes. "How would you know if my argument is a good one, if you don't understand logic?" QED.
02:51
January 9, 2020
Humanity's problems stem from ignorance
According to Epictetus, the root of our problems is that we don't know, or refuse to acknowledge, how the world works. As opposed as to how we wished it worked.
02:40
January 8, 2020
Practice, practice, practice
If someone gets the habit of writing ungrammatically, their art is bound to be destroyed and perish. In the same way the person of honor keeps their character by honest acts and loses it by dishonest.
02:28
January 7, 2020
Don't behave like a sheep or a wild beast
What sets aside human beings from the rest of the animal world is our ability to reason and our propensity to be pro-social. So let's reason well, and be helpful to fellow humans.
03:04
January 6, 2020
The power of using impressions
Since plants do not even have the power of perception, ‘good’ and ‘evil’ are not applicable to them. Evidently, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ presume the power of using impressions.
02:20
January 2, 2020
What if you were sent to Gyara?
The island of Gyara was the exile place of choice for troublesome people during the Roman Empire. How would you handle being sent into exile?
02:37
December 30, 2019
The wonder and curse of consciousness
Because we’re the only animals who not only die but are conscious of it even while it happens, we are beset by anxiety.
02:13
December 27, 2019
Microcosm and macrocosm
Because what is a human being? Part of a community – the community of gods and men, primarily, and secondarily that of the city we happen to inhabit, which is only a microcosm of the universe in toto.
02:20
December 26, 2019
The true nature of humanity
Human beings are neither mindless drones in a beehive nor entirely self-contained individuals. We are highly social animals, and a number of ethical implications follow from this biological fact.
02:32
December 23, 2019
Going on a trip? Here's what's up to you (and what isn't)
A nice analogy from Epictetus between our choices in life and those we have when we go on a trip. Even when the trip doesn't end well...
02:43
December 20, 2019
What really matters
Material things per se are indifferent, but the use we make of them is not indifferent.
02:10
December 19, 2019
The crucial importance of trust
Trust is crucial for intimate relationships, for friendships, and even among fellow citizens. Research shows that nations with the highest degree of self-reported happiness among its citizens are those in which people feel like they can trust each other.
02:40
December 18, 2019
Prosoche, or Stoic attention
We know how to analyze arguments, and have the skill a person needs to evaluate competent logicians. But in life what do we do? What today we say is good, tomorrow we'll swear is bad. That's because we don't pay attention.
02:24
December 17, 2019
Better swallow the bitter pill from the get go
When I see that one thing, virtue, is supreme and most important, I cannot say that something else is, just to make you happy.
02:31
December 16, 2019