Melvin's digital garden


intro slides by Donald Robertson

relation to buddhism, secular humanism


  • Zeno of Citium
  • Chrysippus
  • Seneca
  • Gaius Musonius Rufus
    • Lectures
  • Epictetus
    • Discourses
    • Enchiridion
  • Marcus Aurelius
    • Meditations
  • William B. Irvine
  • John Sellars
  • Donald Robertson
  • Massimo Pigliucci

Goal: living in accordance with Nature

  • people are social and capable of reason

four cardinal virtues

  • phronêsis (prudence/practical wisdom)
    • what is good, bad, and indifferent in life
    • grasping the value of things rationally
    • navigate complex moral situations, trade-offs
  • andreia (fortitude/courage)
    • act in the face of danger/criticism/retaliation
    • endurance of pain and discomfort
  • dikaiosunê (justice/morality)
    • moral in our dealings with others
    • kindness and fairness
  • sôphrosunê (temperance/moderation)
    • self-discipline/self-control
    • self-awareness or being self-possessed
    • mindfulness

Stoic fork, dichotomy of control

  • things up to us
    • our endorsed values
    • our considered judgements
    • our decision to act or not act
  • things not up to us
    • everything else!
    • health, wealth, career, reputation
  • story of the archer, try your best but the outcome is not up to us

three area of study

  • logic - how to reason well
  • physics - how the world works
  • ethics - how to live well
  • metaphor: logic is the fence of a garden in which the crop of ethics grow from the soil of physics

three discipines

  • desire - endorsing the right values (physics)
    • shift your goals from external to internal
    • remind yourself of the impermanence of things
  • action - how do we act or not act (ethics)
  • assent - arrive at better judgements (logic)

Lessons in Stoicism by John Sellars

  • natural reaction -> judgement -> emotion
  • anger arising from a sense of injury
  • pause and reflect before making judgement
  • adversity as a chance to exercise virtues
  • fate works through us, we are contributors to fate
  • everything we have or love is merely on loan
  • living up to the various roles we find ourselves in
  • Hierocles and the expanding circle of concern

Practical Stoicism, 24 Stoic Spiritual Exercises

  • examine your impressions
  • premeditatio malorum
    • Murphy’s law
    • stoic’s reserve clause is “fate permitting”
  • keep change and death in mind
    • memento mori
  • how can I use virtue here and now?
  • pause and take a deep breath
  • otherize
  • choose your company well
  • respond to insults with humor
  • don’t speak too much about yourself
  • speak little and speak well
  • speak without judging
  • keep at-hand principles
  • why am I doing this?
  • renunciation
  • decomposition exercise describing events/things in very objective language avoid attributing more importance than they do in fact have
  • acknowledging others’ virtues
  • take another’s perspective
  • view from above
  • reconsider the wrong
  • when offended, reflect
  • rebutting thoughts
  • morning meditations on others
  • morning meditations on the cosmos
  • acceptance of one’s fate

How to be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci

Meditations: A New Translation by Marcus Aurelius. Translated by Gregory Hays.


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