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On (Short and Most Likely Wrong) Thoughts About the Modern Stoic Schools

Recently, I’ve been working on not only gaining a deeper understanding of Stoicism, but also how to use in modern life, as well as attempting to figure out if there is anything of the modern world that could be of some use to Stoicism. This attempt, of course, has me seeing Stoicism of today as two different schools: New Stoicism and Traditional Stoicism. The following, of course, may be a gross generalization that could be dispelled with a little work, but I find that the best way to find answers is to sometimes be wrong on the internet.
Traditional Stoicism
I also call this “religious” Stoicism, not because Stoics from this camp follow one faith or another, but rather they’re attempting to keep the physics side of Stoicism alive. This means keeping the idea of Providence going.
To the Traditional Stoic, dropping this aspect of Stoicism effectively changes it from a philosophy to a form of CBT psychology. You won’t find anyone (that I can tell) arguing that this isn’t useful, but rather…
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On the Dichotomy of Control vs. Trichotomy of Control

Side Note: I actually wrote this sometime last year and, as it turns out, never posted it. So here goes.
I. This essay, as the title points out, is a look at the Epictetus's dichotomy of control and Irvine's trichotomy of control. More to the point, just who the hell has it right, anyway?
II. Let's look at Epictetus first.
Epictetus is pretty straightforward about things. He says there are some things in our control and some things not in our control. And that's it. Okay, it's a little bit more than that, though not much more.
See, there's only two things in our control: our opinions and our will. So whatever isn't our opinion isn't in our control. Will is our ability to attempt influence over the world, including our own actions.
III. Irvine is more nuanced in his idea. To him, there's three things: things in our control, things not in our control, and things that we have limited control over.
The example he gives is someone practicing for a tennis ma…

On "Real" Stoicism

I. I was listening to the Painted Porch podcast, specifically episode 8. In this episode, they tackle the question of just how needed a god is to Stoicism. I remember the Facebook kerfuffle that happened, too. If I remember correctly, I saw a lot of the phrase “real Stoic” being thrown around.
While the main focus of the episode is an interesting topic, it's the idea of “real” Stoicism that got me thinking more. Just what is this “real” Stoicism that we sometimes hear about?
To be clear, since the fighting died down, I don't think I've seen this talked about since. But it could also rear its head again at any time, because any big enough disagreement seems to bring out the true Scotsmen. So, just what is “real” Stoicism?

II. See, this all depends on who we ask. Today, you might get a lot of answers. “Those who follow Stoics ethics are real Stoics.” “Those who follow Stoic physics are real Stoics.” Oh, poor Stoic logic. Nobody seems to give two damns about you anymore.
Ask a…

Thoughts on Book 1

Today, I want to talk about the first book of Meditations.
When's the last time we thought about why we are thankful for people in our lives? Sure, we may be thankful for our parents and loved ones, but how many of us can sit down and say why, exactly, we are? I sure as hell couldn't.
That's why, even though it's a little boring, the first book is, when considered all at once, one of the more interesting books. He was able to sit and list various people in his life and consider what it was that made them so important.
It isn't just that his mother was his mother that he was thankful. He accredits her for teaching him reverence, generosity, and living simply. He thanks his great-grandfather for teaching him the importance of good private tutors. He even thanks a man named Rusticus for showing him he needed to learn discipline, a man he later states he was often upset with.
Isn't that interesting? He thanks people that, with good odds, butted heads with him ofte…

On East and West

I was listening to the radio, which in of itself is nothing special. I heard a song about some guy who had found new life in Christ, but was afraid of his old self coming back and ruining all that. He asks, “How far is east from west?”
The man was singing and said that the difference was from one hand to the other. But I don't quite think that hits the mark. Why? Because vice and virtue (as well as sin and righteousness) is a journey, not one side or the other. How far is east from west?
One single step.
One step is all that's needed to go from one direction to another. You don't even have to turn around: even walking backwards counts.
I feel that this is the way the path of virtue is. It's long and narrow. It only goes one way. And, as it turns out, a lot of things like to block that path.
Little wonder, then, it's so tiring and hard to become a Sage, to be like Christ, this, that, and the other thing. It's far easier to turn around, find another way, go arou…

Week 7: Marcus Aurelius's Deconstruction

Besides being one of the most accessible Stoic writings, Meditations also has some of the best examples of how to practice Stoicism. This week, we're going to focus on one such tactic: deconstruction.
Break It Down
The idea behind deconstruction is simple: break down an object to simple terms. Marcus did this well, to the point that the stuff he deconstructed looked disgustingly absurd. For example, he took his royal robes, dyed purple, and explained to himself that it was nothing more than sheep's hair and urchin blood.
Oh, that's not that bad. I hear you. But what about what he said about the fancy foods he ate at dinner? He thought of them as bits and pieces of rotting flesh and plant matter, warmed up. Wine is nothing more than smashed and rotten grapes. Sex is nothing more than two people rubbing genitalia together and making odd noises in the hopes of inducing muscle contractions and the secretion of certain bodily fluids.
All I'm saying is, Marcus Aurelius ruined…

On Musonius and Food, Part 1

This essay is more of a breakdown of the lecture Musonius gave about food. As a fat Stoic, food is of keen interest to me, more than any other subject. This essay focuses on part A. In it, I try to just both sum up and expand on what Musonius is talking about. 
I.
The first thing that strikes me about Musonius and food is his seeming anger about it. I mean, here's just a few quick quotes:
“He often talked in a very forceful manner about food...”
“We thought that this lecture about food was rather unlike the lectures Musonius customarily gave.”
Now, I can't say for certain, but something tells me Musonius wasn't one to just go off on a tangent. Yet shortly after the first quote, it's suggested that he didn't bother with his normal topics and instead spoke about food.
But it's the second quote that hits me most. Why was this lecture so unlike the others? This is a man who felt the need to tell men that they shouldn't shave their beards or cut their hair. Him t…