Category Archives: Larry Becker

STOICON ’16: Larry Becker

Larry BeckerAnd here it is, the last of our weekly entries in this limited series of posts leading up to the STOICON 2016 conference, scheduled in New York City for 15 October. (More info? Here. Tickets? Here. Looking for cheap accommodation with a fellow Stoic? Here.) The idea is to briefly feature each of the scheduled speakers for our talks and workshops so that people can better appreciate some of the leading figures behind the Modern Stoicism movement (is that what it is?), as well as give their reasoned assent to the impression that this is a conference well worth attending…

This dulcis in fundo entry is dedicated to Larry Becker, the author of A New Stoicism, whom I have recently interviewed for this blog (here, here, here and here; see also the category reserved for him, currently with 13 entries).

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Stoicism and disability

Larry BeckerStoicism is a practical philosophy. Although of course it has a theoretical framework — otherwise it wouldn’t be a philosophy — the crucial part, what makes it different and appealing, is that that framework is meant to help actual people living their lives to the fullest possible extent. Hence my “what would a Stoic do?” occasional series.

But can Stoicism be helpful also to people who are forced by circumstances to live seriously challenged lives? The answer seems to be yes, at the least some of the time. This essay is about one such example, of a modern Stoic who has found that his adopted philosophy of life has made it possible for him to cope with a very debilitating condition.

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Interview with Larry Becker, part IV

Roman goddess of Justice

Roman goddess of Justice

Here is the fourth and last part of my series based on a personal interview with Lawrence Becker, author of A New Stoicism, on which I have commented a number of times before (use the “Becker” category on this site to read all previous posts). Part I is here, II here, and III here.

Again, I will not add any commentary of my own, since Larry’s words come through loud and clear. I simply list a series of topics and the approximate times in the linked audio file where we discuss them.

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Interview with Larry Becker, part III

Epicurus, not a Stoic...

Epicurus, not a Stoic…

Here is the third part of my ongoing series based on a personal interview with Lawrence Becker, author of A New Stoicism, on which I have commented a number of times before (use the “Becker” category on this site to read all previous posts). Part I is here, II here.

Again, I will not add any commentary of my own, since Larry’s words come through loud and clear. I simply list a series of topics and the approximate times in the linked audio file where we discuss them.

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Interview with Larry Becker, part II

Larry BeckerHere is the second part of my ongoing series based on a personal interview with Lawrence Becker, author of A New Stoicism, on which I have commented a number of times before (use the “Becker” category on this site to read all previous posts). Part I is here.

Again, I will not add any commentary of my own, since Larry’s words come through loud and clear. I simply list a series of topics and the approximate times in the linked audio file where we discuss them.

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Interview with Larry Becker, part I

Becker-New StoicismBack in February I went to Roanoke, VA, to visit retired professor of philosophy Lawrence Becker, the author of A New Stoicism, on which I have commented a number of times before (use the “Becker” category on this site to read all previous posts). Larry was kind enough to allow me to interview him on tape (well, on iPhone, really), chatting with me about not just his book in particular but the project of modern Stoicism more broadly.

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The thorny issue of Stoic emotions

emotional SpockStoics have a bad reputation when it comes to emotions. But is it deserved? What, exactly, is the connection between Stoic theory and what modern cognitive science tells us about the relationship between emotion and cognition?

These and a number of related questions are taken up by an in-depth treatment of the problem of Stoic emotion in a paper by Larry Becker, published in Stoicism: Traditions and Transformations, edited by Steven K. Strange and Jack Zupko for Cambridge University Press. The paper is well worth a careful read for any serious student of modern Stoicism, but I will attempt to give the gist of it by presenting some of its highlights.

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A New Stoicism – part VI: happiness

Eudaimonia

Eudaimonia

I have been devoting a significant number of posts to Larry Becker’s A New Stoicism (here are parts I, II, III, IV and V), since — whether one agrees with his positions or not — it is the pre-eminent scholarly attempt at modernizing Stoicism. Indeed, I plan on soon commenting on a solo paper he wrote about Stoic emotion, and then plunge into a multi-part commentary (with audio) of my recent interview with him, so stay tuned for (much) more. Here, however, I tackle chapter 7 of his book, focused on happiness.

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Virtue as ideal agency

the cardinal virtues, Louvre Museum

the cardinal virtues, Louvre Museum

It appears that part I of my “ancient to modern Stoicism” essay has generated quite a bit of controversy (part II, by the way, is here). Both several commenters on this blog and others over at the Stoicism Facebook page have taken issue with my second suggestion: that we should replace the ancient concept of virtue with Becker’s idea of virtue understood as maximization of agency.

Some of the comments were clearly off the mark (even made by people who publicly admitted not having read either Becker or my essay, basing their “criticism” on the figure accompanying my post). For instance, a number of comments kept arguing that serial killers and tyrants would be virtuous Stoics according to the updated conception of virtue — despite the fact that I had very clearly said in the opening essay that that was not going to be the case, and tried to explain why.

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A New Stoicism – part V: on virtue

620x350-20121207-virtue-460x260It has been some time since we last looked at Becker’s book, A New Stoicism, so it’s time to get back to it with a discussion of the next to the last chapter, on virtue. As you might recall, Becker’s project is to establish modern Stoicism on a footing that preserves the basic insights of the early version, but also updates and, when necessary, significantly alters (or even does away completely) with whatever precepts are no longer tenable in light of modern science and philosophy.

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