Epictetus against the Academics and the Epicureans

Interesting section (#20) of Book II of the Discourses, devoted to criticism of both the Epicureans and the Academics (i.e., the followers of Plato – the figure to the left is a Roman mosaic of the 1st century BCE from Pompeii, now at the Museo Nazionale Archologico, Naples, representing Plato’s Academy). Here, for instance, Epictetus seems […]

Epictetus on how to do philosophy

Section 17 of the second book of the Discourses is entitled “How to adapt preconceptions to everyday instances” and begins in this manner: “The first thing a pretender to philosophy must do is get rid of their presuppositions; a person is not going to undertake to learn anything that they think they already know.” What […]

From Epictetus to Naso

In book II, section 14 of the Discourses Epictetus addresses someone in his audience named Naso, and brings up some interesting points on the nature of philosophizing and the (usually unfavorable, already then!) reception that philosophers get from the public at large. He draws an analogy between philosophy and any other profession: “Becoming a carpenter or […]

Epictetus on steadfastness

I’ve finished re-reading Book I of the Discourses, and I wanted to highlighted a few passages from section 29 (near the end of the book), “On steadfastness.” Notice Epictetus’ clear discussion of “externals” and correct judgment. I also like the defense of the value of philosophy in which he engages (which is still, unfortunately, necessary today!), […]

Reading Epictetus’ Discourses, book I

I have been re-reading Epictetus’ Discourses, just finished book I. Here are some extracts as food for thought and discussion (I may post more in the next few days): “Reason is unique among the faculties assigned to us in being able to evaluate itself – what it is, what it is capable of, how valuable […]

Stoics should be vegetarian

Vegetarianism is a big deal, ethically speaking. It was put on the map in terms of public philosophy by utilitarian Peter Singer, with his landmark Animal Liberation, published back in 1975. In truth, utilitarians have been very clear on the subject from the beginning. The founder of the approach, Jeremy Bentham, famously said that when […]

Stoic advice: my friend is a jerk, what do I do?

[Feel free to submit a question for this column, addressing it at massimo at howtobeastoic dot org. However, consider that I have a significant backlog, and I may not get to your question for some time, or at all.] M. writes: My friend has been an avid member of the Red Pill community for the […]

Stoic advice: can a salesperson be a Stoic?

[Feel free to submit a question for this column, addressing it at massimo at howtobeastoic dot org. However, consider that I have a significant backlog, and I may not get to your question for some time, or at all.] D. writes: How should a practising Stoic ethically approach their work if it involves rhetoric, persuading […]