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.
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