Video lecture: Should I Kill Myself or Have a Cup of Coffee?

Join my friend Skye Cleary and myself for a discussion of Stoicism and existentialism.

Stoicism, the ancient Greco-Roman philosophy that is all the rage in the 21st century, has a lot to say about two apparently very far apart topics: suicide and the meaning of life. And yet, the Stoics argued, life’s meaning depends crucially on the fact that we will die, and the possibility of deciding on our own terms when that will happen is what ultimately gives us freedom.

Explore these and related ideas with a philosopher who actually practices Stoicism as a philosophy of life. Let’s talk about what does it mean to live a life worth living, and explore different ways of doing so. In the process, learn about the merchant who lost everything and founded a new philosophy, the slave who became one of the most renowned teachers of antiquity, and the brooding philosopher-king who may have loved sex, food and drink a bit too much…

On existentialism: When every day many of us wake up to read about fresh horrors on our fresh horrors device, we might find ourselves contemplating the question as to whether, as Albert Camus supposedly put it, one should kill oneself or have a cup of coffee. Existential philosophy is deeply concerned with the question of suicide and the way in which the possibility infuses life with meaning.

As Camus proposed in his essay The Myth of Sisyphus, “There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide.” Friedrich Nietzsche found the idea of suicide to be a way of affirming life that helped him get through many dark nights. And Simone de Beauvoir suggests that although suicide might seem like an easy escape from pain, it’s not just about us; it’s those who love us who will have to live our death. Join us for an Olio about existential attitudes towards suicide, finding meaning in life, and coffee.

Published by

Massimo

Massimo is the K.D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He blogs at platofootnote.org and howtobeastoic.org. He is the author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.

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