How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern LifeHow to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life by Massimo Pigliucci

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m still unclear if reading for pleasure is virtuous. I’m going to pretend that it is.

The former biologist and current philosopher, Massimo Pigliucci, guides us through stoicism and lots of conversations with his imaginary friend, Epictetus. I probably shouldn’t write book blurbs, because this was way more interesting than my previous sentence implies.

Before reading this book, my only understandings of stoicism came from Bertrand Russell. That is to say, I had a snarky and somewhat dismissive understanding of stoicism because Russell wasn’t a fan. Massimo dispelled my misunderstandings and also showed how stoicism could be applied to modern life. Book title goal achieved!

There are two highlights from this book. The first is that Massimo has managed to communicate his philosophy clearly and in a way that I think most people would be able to understand and engage with. The second is that he also manages to upsell readers on the idea of becoming a stoic. I’m not saying I’m rushing out to join Cult Stoic, but there are a lot of good ideas here for people to learn.

stoic-decision-making

View all my reviews

Further reading:
https://howtobeastoic.wordpress.com/
https://howtobeastoic.wordpress.com/2017/05/11/bertrand-russell-got-stoicism-seriously-wrong/
https://www.reddit.com/r/Stoicism/comments/zblu2/criticisms_of_stoicism_from_bertrand_russells/
https://philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/9271/how-might-one-counter-bertrand-russells-criticism-of-stoicism-as-not-true-and

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9 thoughts on “Book review: How to be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci

    1. That is actually a really tricky question to answer. Ethics is one of the five branches of philosophy and it has been working on things like virtue for thousands of years.

      Aristotle defined virtue by four characteristics: prudence, temperance, courage, and justice. But he further defined eighteen virtues that covered morals, intellectual, and other “good sense” traits.

      And that’s just Aristotle! Plenty of others have defined virtues. Massimo has several basic pillars in his book and discusses them a bit in this post: https://howtobeastoic.wordpress.com/2016/04/14/the-universality-of-virtue/

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Better watch out, I might just write my own book on the subject 🙂

        “Stoics: Who’s in Charge?” and I’ll lead the reader down the path that Bookstooge himself is in charge and deserves all the monies 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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