“This book is written for those seeking a philosophy of life. In the pages that follow, I focus my attention on a philosophy that I have found useful and that I suspect many readers will also find useful. It is the philosophy of the ancient Stoics. The Stoic philosophy of life may be old, but it merits the attention of any modern individual who wishes to have a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling—who wishes, that is, to have a good life.”
~ William B. Irvine from A Guide to the Good Life
I love it.
Although pretty obscure today, Stoicism was once the primary philosophy of the Western world.
We’ll cover some of the essential ideas of the Stoic philosophical approach in the Note.
First, a quick historical background: Stoicism was founded by Zeno in ~300 B.C.E. The primary Stoic philosophers were Marcus Aurelius (Roman emperor-philosopher), Seneca (tutor to Nero and the creator of the “essay”) and Epictetus (former slave turned leading philosopher).
We have Notes on Aurelius’ Meditations, Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic, and Epictetus’s The Enchiridion—three of my favorite old school classics that I hope you will check out!
William B. Irvine’s A Guide to the Good Life provides a fantastic, comprehensive look at the Stoic philosophy with a wonderful modern application.
As he says: “I wrote this book with the following question in mind: If the ancient Stoics had taken it upon themselves to write a guidebook for twenty-first-century individuals—a book that would tell us how to have a good life—what might that book have looked like? The pages that follow are my answer to this question.”
This book is PACKED with Big Ideas.
Let’s have some fun exploring a handful of my favorites, shall we?
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