Stoic Philosophy: The Dark Side of Desire

Drawing upon themes in Seneca’s ‘Letters to a Stoic,’ I discuss negative consequences of desires, vices, and how we can change our mindsets to live more modest content lives. Desires can distract us from our worthwhile goals, compromise our character, harm us, cause great stress, and lead us to be slavish. Real joy can be found in contentment, in reducing our worries and unhealthy desires, which will allow for a more fulfilled life.

My Stoic Philosophy series explores the tradition of Stoicism with goals to inform, empower, and help others benefit from practical wisdom of Ancient Greek, Roman, and modern thinkers including Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca.

For the Stoics, a main focus is pursuing virtue to attain a well-examined life through practical applications of Philosophy – acting with good character, using reason to form accurate careful judgments about the world, and achieving contentment. Stoic writers focus on many perennial human concerns and urge people to take action applying what they learn to everyday life. Self-improvement is central to Stoic thought – strengthening and improving one’s mindset.

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Justin Vacula

Justin Vacula hosts the Stoic Philosophy Podcast; serves as co-organizer and spokesperson for the Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA) Freethought Society; and hosts monthly Stoic Philosophy discussion groups for the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia. He has appeared on and hosted various radio shows and podcasts; participated in formal debates and discussions; was a guest speaker for college-level courses; was featured in local, national, and international news; and has been invited to speak at various national, local, and statewide events. Vacula received bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology, a minor in Professional Writing, and the distinguished W.A. Kilburn Memorial Award for Philosophy from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He is pursuing a degree in Marywood University’s graduate-level Mental Health Counseling program and formerly worked for the Arc of Luzerne County’s Transition to Community Employment program as a teacher’s assistant and job coach alongside adult learners with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He also plays poker; volunteers as a member of the website and media team for the Greyhawk Reborn Dungeons & Dragons campaign and plays at events in the Eastern United States; and enjoys metal music.