Stoic Philosophy for Secular Humanists Speech

I recently presented on the topic of Stoic Philosophy for the Humanist Association of Greater Philadelphia. Watch the video on YouTube and listen on SoundCloud.

From the introduction to my speech:

Secular humanists — subscribing to no religious worldview — face questions of how they can find meaning in life, have an ethical foundation, cope with hardships, and come to terms with death. Religious individuals draw upon their various traditions for answers to many of life’s big questions, but non-religious individuals may find themselves to be at a loss – especially in the eyes of the religious – to establish and explain a solid framework for living a coherent examined ethical life.

Stoic Philosophy – popularized by Ancient Greek and Roman thinkers like Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca – offers practical wisdom with which Secular Humanists and people of all backgrounds can improve their lives by finding responses to many perennial challenges.

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 having contentment through casting away anxiety and certain desires. Stoic writers urge people to take action applying what they learn to everyday life. Self-improvement including strengthening and improving one’s mindset is central to Stoic thought. Even though many Stoic writers are centuries removed from us, their wisdom endures and is extremely relevant to our time.

This speech – referencing Epictetus’ ‘Discourses,’ Marcus Aurelius’ ‘Meditations,’ and Seneca’s ‘Letters from a Stoic’ — will focus on central themes within Stoic Philosophy including having an ethical foundation for life, finding purpose, dealing with death, overcoming adversity, acceptance, distinguishing what’s inside and outside our control, and working toward contentment.

Click on this post’s title for more.

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8: Stoicism, Egalitarianism, and Current Events with YouTuber DisturbingTrends

I spoke with YouTube user Disturbing Trends concerning Stoic Philosophy, egalitarianism, and current events.

We explore the nature of egalitarianism and moral progress. What might equality look like? Shall we prefer equality of opportunity over outcome? How can we find purpose in life, a role we can excel in? How should we deal with difficult people? We also talk about current events including free speech on college campuses and liberal values.

I explore the philosophical tradition of Stoicism with goals to inform, empower, and help others benefit from the practical wisdom of Ancient Greek, Roman, and modern thinkers. I tackle many topics including handling adversity, finding meaning in life, working toward contentment, dealing with change, anger, and gratitude.

Access the clip on YouTube, SoundCloud, and Stitcher:

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I will be hosting a free open-to-the-public Stoic Philosophy discussion group on the topic of friendship on May 21, 2017 in Willow Grove, PA. More details are here.

Stoicism and a healthy vegetarian lifestyle

I released a new video in my Stoic Philosophy series:

In recent years, following a healthy vegetarian diet, regular exercise, and various mindset changes, I went from about 300 pounds to sustaining 170 pounds. People ask about how I lost weight and which changes I’ve made to my life, so I’ll take some time to talk about my personal reflections and offer words of wisdom from Stoic Philosopher Seneca.

My Stoic Philosophy video series explores the philosophical tradition of Stoicism with goals to inform, empower, and help others benefit from the practical wisdom of Ancient Greek, Roman, and modern thinkers. I tackle many topics including handling adversity, finding meaning in life, working toward contentment, dealing with change, anger, and gratitude.

Find Justin Vacula online:

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Epictetus’ Discourses:

Stoic Philosophy – Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Massimo Pigliucci’s Stoicism blog:

Stoic Philosophy Facebook group:

Reflection on healthy eating

The following is copied from a recent Facebook update I posted last night concerning healthy eating. Feel free to respond here or in the thread:

More of my food reflections as a mostly vegan frugal healthy eater:

I encountered a vast casino food menu today with many choices including a $60 steak, $50 scallops, $10 cheeseburger sliders, crab mac n cheese, loaded fries, and much more.

I saw most of this as unhealthy, unneded, and ostentatious. I saw lots of orders being placed and lots of food going to waste.

I was happy with finding a made-to-order $8 four topping salad and a $4 garden salad in a food court area to eat with my banana and protein bar I brought from home along with peanuts I can snack on later in the night if desired. I ordered the $4 salad today and will have the $8 salad tomorrow when I have more comps/food credit on my card. I drank water and had some coffee. There was no desire for energy drinks, soda, or alcohol. Both salads, too, would be covered with comps and given future play future salads would also be covered.

Years ago, before exercising regularly and not being concerned with health, I’d think about how the burgers, scallops, sliders, and fried food would taste good and would be filling. Now, it’s a much different perspective.

I don’t focus on gratification in the moment which will likely lead to unhealthy consequences and a larger monthly budget including spending I don’t find much value in. The large portion size seems really unneeded. I can’t be at ease with myself in consuming meat or seafood because I find it morally problematic given that I could have more sustainable food options and won’t be such an accomplise to animal suffering. I can eat healthier foods and likely enjoy better health benefits.

I’ll eat out or break from the protein shake, rice/pasta, fruit/veggie, salad routine on rare occasions, but even then I keep the spending low & do my best to eat healthy fair-sized portions. I would eat pizza here and there on social occassions, but cut that out more recently while also removing most dairy products.

Maybe you too can question food habits and live healthier…or post why you think I might be mistaken


Video: Television appearance on religion in society

I recently appeared on the WFMZ-TV television program ‘Business Matters’ based in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley representing the NEPA (Northeastern) Pennsylvania Freethought Society for the segment ‘What is the Role of Religion in Today’s Society?’

I appeared on a panel discussion alongside a Catholic representing the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Evangelical Christian representing the Liberty Worship Center, a Muslim representing the Muslim Association of the Lehigh Valley, and a Jewish rabbi representing the Congregation of Brith Sholom.

I wasn’t able to offer lengthy thoughts because the panel was fast-paced, included many members, and tackled various topics, but I enjoyed the experience, was able to get my point across, and look forward to returning for a future episode. Thanks to the crew at WFMZ-TV and ‘Business Matters’ for the invitation. Thanks to Lehigh Valley Humanists for suggesting I appear on this program.

Watch the video below

on WFMZ-TV’s website:

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As always, feel free to comment below.