On this past 19 September I hosted the first Stoicon-X New York at the Society for Ethical Culture. Stoicon-X is a mini-version of the annual Stoicon event, which this year has been held in Athens, Greece. See here for more information about Stoicon. We were lucky to have three presenters, authors of three new books on Stoicism that have appeared this year.
The first one was Don Robertson, author of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor.
Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was the last famous Stoic philosopher of the ancient world. The Meditations, his personal journal, survives to this day as one of the most loved self-help and spiritual classics of all time. In How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, cognitive psychotherapist Donald Robertson weaves the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius together seamlessly to provide a compelling modern-day guide to the Stoic wisdom followed by countless individuals throughout the centuries as a path to achieving greater fulfillment and emotional resilience.
How to Think Like a Roman Emperor takes readers on a transformative journey along with Marcus, following his progress from a young noble at the court of Hadrian―taken under the wing of some of the finest philosophers of his day―through to his reign as emperor of Rome at the height of its power. Robertson shows how Marcus used philosophical doctrines and therapeutic practices to build emotional resilience and endure tremendous adversity, and guides readers through applying the same methods to their own lives.
Combining remarkable stories from Marcus’s life with insights from modern psychology and the enduring wisdom of his philosophy, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor puts a human face on Stoicism and offers a timeless and essential guide to handling the ethical and psychological challenges we face today.
Here is the video of Don’s talk:
Our second speaker was Bill Irvine, author of The Stoic Challenge: A Philosopher’s Guide to Becoming Tougher, Calmer, and More Resilient.
Some people bounce back in response to setbacks; others break. We often think that these responses are hardwired, but fortunately this is not the case. Stoicism offers us an alternative approach. Plumbing the wisdom of one of the most popular and successful schools of thought from ancient Rome, philosopher William B. Irvine teaches us to turn any challenge on its head. The Stoic Challenge, then, is the ultimate guide to improving your quality of life through tactics developed by ancient Stoics, from Marcus Aurelius and Seneca to Epictetus.
This book uniquely combines ancient Stoic insights with techniques discovered by contemporary psychological research, such as anchoring and framing. The result is a surprisingly simple strategy for dealing with life’s unpleasant and unexpected challenges—from minor setbacks like being caught in a traffic jam or having a flight cancelled to major setbacks like those experienced by physicist Stephen Hawking, who slowly lost the ability to move, and writer Jean-Dominique Bauby, who suffered from locked-in syndrome.
The Stoics discovered that thinking of challenges as tests of character can dramatically alter our emotional response to them. Irvine’s updated “Stoic test strategy” teaches us how to transform life’s stumbling blocks into opportunities for becoming calmer, tougher, and more resilient. Not only can we overcome everyday obstacles—we can benefit from them, too.
Here is the video of Bill’s talk:
Finally, yours truly, on A Handbook for New Stoics: How to Thrive in a World Out of Your Control.
Stress often comes from situations that are beyond our control—such as preparing for a meeting, waiting for test results, or arguing with a loved one. But we can control our response to these everyday tensions—through the wisdom and practice of Stoicism.
Stoicism is an ancient pragmatic philosophy that teaches us to step back, gain perspective, and act with intention. In A Handbook for New Stoics, renowned philosopher Massimo Pigliucci and seasoned practitioner Gregory Lopez provide 52 week-by-week lessons to help us apply timeless Stoic teachings to modern life.
Whether you’re already familiar with Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, or you’re entirely new to Stoicism, this handbook will help you embrace challenges, thrive under pressure, and discover the good life!
If you’d like to practice with us, join the online discussion group for A Handbook for New Stoics!
And here is the video of my talk: