Author and philosophy professor William Irvine goes in-depth on Stoicism, and why the fundamental tenets of this ancient philosophy can provide answers to some of the toughest problems in today’s society. On this episode Irvine offers a definition and some useful background on Stoicism and its origins, the original Stoics, their thoughts on failure, their advice on decision making, and how we can train ourselves to be more stoic.
Irvine has written seven books including the wildly popular 2008 release A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, and the 2019 follow-up, The Stoic Challenge: A Philosopher’s Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient. Irvine also teaches philosophy and logic courses at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.
Here are a few highlights from the conversation:
That is a life that’s full of, to the extent possible, of positive emotions like delight and even joy, and relatively without negative emotions like anger, and anxiety, and regret.
It’s that notion that you enjoy what life has to offer, but without becoming addicted to it, without clinging to what life has to offer, you’re always prepared for things to take a turn for the worse.
You can control the goals you pick for yourself. You can, with a little bit of effort, control how you respond to the challenges life presents you.
You’ll have some intrusive thought, that you’re trying to fall asleep and you wake up in the middle of the night, the intrusive thought says, “Oh, he’s awake. Okay, here we go. We’re going to party in his mind.” Then the question is, what do you do about it?
When setbacks hurt us, most of the harm is self-inflicted and it’s us letting that flood of negative emotions take us over.
You can put all the thought you want, but one thing is for sure and that is that if you don’t even consider the optimal option, there’s no way you can pick it.
And so much more.