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Hi! I'm Mike and this is my wife, Jen!  Since we began this site, we've learned to live more frugally, completely eliminate our debts, create new income, radically increase our net worth, and live altogether better lives!  Sign up below for instant access to our members-only toolbox, including our exclusive guide:  15 Steps to Fix Your Broken Finances and Live a Better Life!

Saturday
Apr072012

Some Thoughts on Stoic Moral Philosophy 

As I mentioned over in the About section of the site, I have a real interest in philosophy and over the years I've found myself often returning to the Greek and Roman philosophers to provoke my thoughts.  Early philosophers were much more willing to look at ethics within philosophy as a genuine search for the “good life,” rather than simply as a serious of prohibitions-- philosophy was meant to be lived, rather than just studied.  This simple idea appeals to me more and more everyday.  Interestingly, as part of my course that I teach in philosophy, we read and discuss Epictetus’ Enchiridion (The Handbook) and I’ve become accustomed to young people fastening to stoic moral philosophy, one of the many schools of philosophy in the ancient world, in ways that might be surprising to some, given the general direction of American culture these days.  

I’m currently reading A Guide to the Good Life:  The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, by William B. Irvine, which really is a remarkable exposition of Stoic moral philosophy that I think has the potential to really resonate with anyone who is looking for some healthy introspection.  One major theme I continue to return to in my own life is my own desire for autonomy.  The sort of deliberate life that the stoics espouse really contributes to that very attribute.  As my students often quickly discover, Stoic philosophy also resonates with practicing Christians.  Himself a student and practitioner of Stoicism while he was a captive of and tortured by the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War, Admiral James Stockdale pointed out that the Stoic view of God as the “closest thing to the Christian God there is.”   

In addition to an informed discussion of the Stoic historical figures, Irvine’s book does an excellent job of highlighting the practical aspects of Stoic moral philosophy.  Over the course of the next several weeks, I’ll endeavor to discuss some of these practical aspects, and highlight how they might serve us both in life and in business.  Areas of discussion include:  negative visualization (visualizing how things could be worse in your life); dichotomy of control (understanding those things that are within your control and those things that aren’t); fatalism (letting go of the past and the present); self-denial (putting off pleasure to make you properly appreciate it when you have it); duties (on loving makind); social relations (how we deal with others); insults (how to put up with them); grief (how to cope with loss); anger (how to overcome it and turn it to something else); personal values (how to properly understand your successes or lack of success), exile (on surviving changes in place); old age (how to come to grips with this process), and dying (which is a certainty, after all!).  

I know that’s a lot to discuss, so I’ll pause for now.  

Friday
Apr062012

Amazon Associates

"Congratulations, your application to the Amazon.com Associates Program has been approved."

Progress!  I think I've managed to build the appropriate widgets to the right to make all of this work.  I've also listed three of my favorite books that provide much of the philosophy behind my efforts here, both current and future!