A new gig

Dear readers, I apologize for my absence, but I have been busy with a new writing gig at 3 Quarks Daily. I have had a monthly column there since the summer. Somehow it has taken up a lot of my time, but I love it. I had been feeling a little limited on this blog…

Stoic dogma

A recent piece in The New York Review of Books (“Lovers of Wisdom,” Jim Holt, July 19, 2018), reviewing a new translation of Diogenes Laertius’ Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, notes that Hegel and Nietzsche had opposing views of whether descriptions of philosophers’ daily lives were noteworthy. Hegel thought that how a philosopher lived was…

Withdrawing from the world

In his 14th letter, “On the Reasons for Withdrawing from the World,” Seneca advises his reader to avoid discomfort, danger, and being an object of envy. As the title suggests, he recommends withdrawing, not engaging, to improve one’s peace of mind, and even to improve the lives of others. He makes a case for living in…

Epictetus on the ruling center, reflections, and reality

For Epictetus, just as a doctor works on the human body and the farmer works on the land, the good person works on her “ruling center.” Some other ways to think of this ruling center: the rational, enlightened mind, the capacity we have for examining our knee-jerk reactions and determining whether they are based on…

Stoicism for crises

It has been an eventful, challenging past few months. I have been wondering for a while how Stoicism would help me deal with an actual crisis--but to be honest, I fell short of wishing for a crisis to come so that I could be tested. I’m soft, and it’s the holiday season. Needless to say,…

Stoicism and Anna Karenina

I am reading Anna Karenina and have come across a few passages that remind me of the Stoic mindset. The first, describing the landowner Levin, strikes me as a good example of someone drawing on inner strength and outward-directed goals to lead a fulfilling life.  Levin is caught in a hailstorm while riding on horseback; while…