Rating 8.0/10

My summary:

An easily readable depiction of the Stoics. Bouncing from Seneca to Marcus Aurelius, Irvine describes Stoic ideals in a palatable way for the 21st century reader. And oh boy do they have good advice. This book does a great job of spoon feeding you the highlights from an incredible wealth of ancient thought.


My philosophy of life, in other words, was what might charitably be called an enlightened form of hedonism.

“in [Socrates], perhaps more than in any other major philosopher, we come upon the example of a man who was able to integrate in his life theoretical and speculative concerns into the context of his daily activities.”

The Stoics’ interest in logic is a natural consequence of their belief that man’s distinguishing feature is his rationality.

Thus, at a banquet a Stoic novice might spend her time talking about what a philosophically enlightened individual should eat; a Stoic further along in her practice will simply eat that way. Similarly, a Stoic novice might boast of her simple lifestyle or of giving up wine in favor of water; a more advanced Stoic, having adopted a simple lifestyle and having given up wine in favor of water, will feel no need to comment on the fact. Indeed, Epictetus thinks that in our practice of Stoicism, we should be so inconspicuous that others don’t label us Stoics—or even label us philosophers.

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