Audio series: Seneca’s On Providence

Here is the latest complete audio commentary series from my Stoic Meditations, dedicated to Seneca’s On Providence. The work, in the form of a dialogue, was probably composed around 64 CE (Seneca died the following year). The subject matter is the Stoic notion of Providence and what later became known as the problem of evil.

You can judge of a pilot in a storm, of a soldier in a battle. How can I know with how great a spirit you could endure poverty, if you overflow with riches? (IV)

My audio commentary runs for 7 episodes.

Podcast: What does it mean to live philosophically?

In this episode of the Philosophy as a Way of Life podcast Rob and Massimo talk to Caleb Cohoe, a Professor of Philosophy at Metropolitan State University of Denver who has recently co-authored two papers exploring what, exactly, it means to live philosophically. Is it all and only a matter of reason? Or do we need to train ourselves by way of spiritual exercises? Are religions just like life philosophies, or is there a difference? What would the Stoics or the Epicureans have to say about all this? (listen at Anchor)

Audio series: Seneca’s On Tranquillity of Mind

The latest complete audio commentary of my Stoic Meditations series is dedicated to Seneca’s On Tranquillity of Mind, inspired by Democritus’ treaty “on cheerfulness,” written around 400 BCE. Seneca in turn inspired Plutarch to write a work on the same subject.

It is often assumed that the work was written about 60 CE, when Seneca’s political influence was waning, but historians are not sure about this. It is, of course, written from a Stoic perspective.

It is more typical of a human to laugh down life than to bewail it. — 15.2

My audio commentary runs for 24 episodes.

Podcast: Stoicism for good times?!

In this episode of the Philosophy as a Way of Life podcast Rob and Massimo discuss the misconception that Stoicism is a philosophy helpful only during bad times. On the contrary, just like any philosophy of life, Stoicism is useful every day, no matter what the circumstances. Indeed, strictly speaking, from a Stoic perspective there are neither “good” nor “bad” times, but only times that can be handled well or badly, depending on our own judgment. Moreover, Stoicism isn’t something that may be picked up right when a crisis hits, as it needs to be practiced ahead of time so that one is well prepared to handle the crisis. Otherwise, it would be like learning to pilot a ship in the middle of a storm. (listen at Anchor)

Podcast: Stephen Angle on Confucianism

In this episode of the Philosophy as a Way of Life podcast my friend Rob Colter and I talk to Stephen Angle, author of Growing Moral: A Confucian Guide to Life. At its core, Confucianism describes a way for humans to live and grow together in our world–a way characterized at its best by joy,  beauty, and harmony. Stephen’s  book builds a case for modern Confucianism as a way of life well worth the attention of reflective modern readers no matter their age, where they live, or the paths they’ve taken so far. (listen at Anchor)

Podcast: A Stoic’s take on modern celebrity

In this episode, host John Bruni is joined from New York by returning guest Prof. Massimo Pigliucci. John and Massimo speak frankly about the problems posed by modern celebrities looking at the two recent controversies that caught out prolific American podcaster, Joe Rogan. They also look at the celebrity of Canadian Clinical Psychologist Emeritus Prof. Jordan B. Peterson. Hang onto your hats folks, this is a broad-ranging and interesting take on Stoicism and its response to modern celebrity. (listen here)

Podcast: How to Live a Happy Life

In this episode of “The One You Feed” podcast, host Eric Zimmer and I discuss what Stoicism teaches us about how to live a good and happy life.

We cover a variety of topics: my book, A Field Guide to a Happy Life: 53 Brief Lessons for Living; what the term Stoicism means; the cardinal virtues of practical wisdom, courage, justice, and temperance; the origins of the Serenity Prayer; how the judgments we have are ultimately the only things under our control; coming to accept our own death and yet continuing on with life in the present moment; the Stoic notion of the dichotomy of control; Epictetus’s discipline of desire and aversion; the most important characteristic of a person in life; and the technique of philosophical journaling. (listen here)

Audio series: Cicero’s On Fate

The latest complete audio commentary of my Stoic Meditations series is dedicated to Cicero’s On Fate, composed in 44 BCE. Unfortunately, about one third of the work is now lost. It takes the form of a dialogue between Cicero and his friend Aulus Hirtius.

Much of the discussion hinges on the relationship between fate and free will, and Cicero ends up suggesting that the latter is a condition for the first. In the process, we get a discussion of various takes on the issue of free will: those of the Stoics, the Epicureans, and the Academic Skeptic Carneades.

This book is part of a trilogy composed by Cicero, the other two being On the Nature of the Gods (audio commentary here) and On Divination (audio commentary here).

This series runs for ten episodes.

Podcast: Happy birthday, Marcus Aurelius!

A few days ago — on April 26th — was the 1901st birthday of the emperor philosopher, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, author of one of the most famous Stoic texts, the Meditations.

To celebrate, my friend and colleague Rob Colter and I have put out a new episode of the Philosophy as a Way of Life podcast (n. 27, to be precise), where we talk about the passages in the Meditations that have most influenced our lives, ask whether Marcus persecuted Christians, why he didn’t abolish slavery, and why on earth he picked his son Commodus to succeed him! (listen at Anchor)