I got to have a fantastic chat with Massimo Pigliucci about stoicism. Check it out below:
If you want to watch selected segments, here are direct links to portions of the video where we discussed different distinct topics. For those interested in debates about the legitimacy of a lot of social justice activism, the segment about applying Stoicism to the social sphere connects directly to those issues.
- Stoicism: a philosophical alternative to religion
- Adapting an ancient philosophy of life to modern times
- Accepting harsh truths
- Confronting regret, fear, and death
- Applying Stoicism to the social sphere
- Interpreting the concept of radical self-sufficiency
Since the topic of my philosophical advice services came up in the video, I should note you can learn all about them and see numerous examples of the advice I give on the blog here. I am also going to spend this month (February 2016) teaching a four week class on Stoic Ethics that will meet February 5, 9, 16, and 23 from 3pm-5pm Eastern. (Essentially it’s a Tuesdays class but the first session will now be on Friday to accommodate a time conflict for one of the students.) There’s still time to sign up if you want to. Just write me at email@example.com to let me know you want to join or to ask any questions. If you cannot make the class this month but want me to do it again in the future, please write to let me know that too! For more on how my courses work and a fuller menu of them, see this page.
How this all came about was that when the New Year hit I announced that I was going to start critically revisiting the Stoics in a series of blog posts. My goal has been to explain what I find immensely valuable about them in my own life while significantly criticizing and suggesting corrections for what I find to be wrong in their writings. My thinking was that the ancient Stoic tradition has some great value but the actual extant texts we have of their philosophy (which isn’t much) contains a lot that I wouldn’t directly recommend as good ethical advice or philosophy without heavy qualification. So my series has been aiming to acknowledge and honor the ancient Stoics for what they have taught me while also showing the problems I see in the texts I disagree with and giving my own positive revisionistic take on stoicism along the way. Here are the posts I have written specifically for the series so far:
When I had just announced my intentions to explore the Stoics and had just started researching for the series, one of my most loyal Twitter boosters, @ to tweet that he would really like to see Massimo and I talk about stoicism on BloggingHeads.TV. And lo and behold, Massimo agreed and reached out to philosophy professor Daniel Kaufman, who is co-host of the show Sophia, which is part of BloggingHeads.TV’s MeaningofLife.TV series. And Daniel was eager to have us on and was a most gracious host. So many thanks to Massimo, Daniel, and @ for making this happen (and so quickly!)
Massimo is a philosopher of science and former biologist who holds three doctorates (one in genetics, one in biology, and one in philosophy). He is the author of Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk and Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to A More Meaningful Life. He also edited the volume Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem and co-edited Evolution – the Extended Synthesis. He is well known for his numerous contributions to the secular community through the podcast he used to cohost with Julia Galef, Rationally Speaking, and through his work on numerous blogs past and present: Rationally Speaking, Scientia Salon, Plato’s Footnote, and his blog exploring and developing contemporary stoicism How To Be A Stoic.
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